Sunday, December 20, 2015

Persius, the Risk-Taker :: Prologue to his Satires

View of Mount Parnassus, a painting by Claude Lorrain painted in 1652 and 
entitled "Landscape with Apollo and the Muses"

I decided this time to write about Persius [34-62 AD] because he seems so much like Horace. In fact, Persius, it is said, modeled much of his work after Horace, who had died some 38 years before Persius was born. But unlike Horace, Persius never reached his full potential; he died young, at age 27.

To me, the poetry Persius left us is filled with the exuberance of his youth. Like young poets of any era, he strove to redefine poetry on his own terms, to use language in new ways and explore the limits of what it meant to be a poet. He was a risk-taker.

Thus, sometime in his twenties, he wrote this vibrant prologue to his book of satires:

1    Nec fonte lā|bra prōluī | caballīnō,
2    nec in bici|pitī sŏmniās|se Parnassō
3    memini ut re|pentē sīc poē|ta prōdīrem.
4    Helicōniadās|que pallidam|que Pīrēnen
5    illīs remit|to, quōrum imā|ginēs lambunt
6    hederae se|quācēs: ipse sē|mipāgānus
7    ad sacra vā|tum carmen ad|fero nostrum.
8    quis expedi|vit psittacō | suum chaere
9    pīcamque do|cuit nostra ver|ba cōnāri?
10  magister ar|tis ingeni|que largītor
11  venter, negā|tās artifex | sequi vōcēs;
12  quod sī dolō|si spēs reful|geat nummi,
13  corvōs poē|tās et poē|tridās pīcās
14  cantāre crē|dās Pēgasē|ium nectar.

1    No, I did not let my lips loose on the horse spring,
2    No, I do not remember dreaming on two-peaked 
3    Parnassus then bingo! waking up so bard. I’ll
4    Leave the Heliconians and pale Pirenes
5    To those eager ivy-lickin’ marble busts. Me?
6    A wannabe, bringing songs to the poets’ shrine.
7    Who got anything back but hello from a parrot? 
8    And who taught this magpie to give our talk a try?
9    Master over eloquence and wit—the bribing
10  Belly, a contriver striving for speech denied.
11  But if hope gleams with a treacherous silver coin, 
12  you’ll believe crow poets and magpie poetesses
13  were singing of Pegasus’ sweet spring waters.
                                                                         translation © 2015 by James Rumford

My translation of his prologue is a bit different from the many other translations I’ve seen. Take ‘let my lips loose on’ in the first line. The Latin is prolui. Most translators say that this word has something to do with washing: pro + luo. But what if luo is ‘loosen’? I know that proluo, meaning ‘to really let loose’ doesn’t exist in any dictionary, but what if Persius is playing on the similarity of the two words? 

Then there is the word ‘wannabe’ in line 6. Persius uses the word semipaganus, which might mean ‘half-country,’ kinda like calling some rock singer who does some country music ‘half-country.’ I have thought about what Perseus could have meant by semipaganus and, given the context, came up with ‘wannabe.’

And what is the context? It is what it means to be a poet. While Horace wrote how magically he was turned into a poem-singing swan, Persius asks, perhaps with tongue in cheek, does being a poet just happen or do I have to be touched by the gods? Do I just drink from Horse Fountain (actually Hippocrene Fountain created when Pegasus gashed his hoof into Mount Helicon in Boeotia) or do I sleep on Mount Parnassus and poof! I’m a poet? Or do the Muses of Mount Helicon (sacred to Apollo) have to inspire me or do I have to be like some cadaverous princess named Pirene, who cried her eyes out and created a fountain in Corinth?  Well, that’s what people think of men-poets: wan, almost effeminate beings who wind up being immortalized not just by their words but by marvelously sculpted effigies in marble. If not that, then being a poet is just parroting what’s already been said, and doing a bad job of parroting at that. I mean, who ever gave me the notion I could write? I know: my stomach. I write to get money, and if ever I get paid for what I write, you’ll finally believe, and so will I, that I’m a real poet able to write about the spring water Pegasus liberated from the mountainside.

There is, I'm sure, a lot more in the fourteen lines Persius wrote, but I will leave you to explore.

Persius in Prose ::

Nec labra [in] fronte caballino prolui [memini].
Nec [in] Parnasso bicipiti somniasse memini, 
ut repente sic poeta prodirem. 
Heliconiadasque Pirenenque pallidam illis remitto, 
quorum hederae sequaces imagines lambunt. 
Ipse semipaganus carmen nostrum ad sacra vatum adfero. 
Quis chaere suum psittaco expedivit?
[Quis]que picam nostra verba conari docuit? 
Venter [est] magister artis ingenique.
[Et venter est] largitor.
[Et venter est] artifex voces negatas sequi.
Quodsi spes nummi dolosi refulgeat, 
credas poetas corvos et poetridas picas 
nectar Pegaseium cantare. 


:: 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.

Friday, August 21, 2015

I Farted :: Satire I:8

This month marks the sixth year of this blog.

Horace begins the poem with an image of a useless piece of fig wood, which is turned into a statue of Priapus, who, in turn, tells us the history of his garden home and regales us with a few anecdotes. At the end of the poem the statue splits its backside. Pepedi, Horace writes, assuming the voice of the statue, “I farted.”

Ridiculous and obscene. So wrote Franz Bücheler (1837–1908), a nineteenth-century classical scholar about Satire I:8. I suppose that Herr Büchler is right. Priapus who can scare away thieves with his membrum virile, as scholars trained following nineteenth-century morals would say, is an obscene figure. So are the two witches who do unspeakable things. As for ridiculous, what is more ridiculous than Priapus farting to scare the witches away? Not high-minded literature this—on the surface. 

Below the priapic imagery, the ghoulish story-telling, we see Horace reminding us once again to consider the enormous changes taking place in Rome. Where once there was a pauper’s graveyard, now is a garden for the very rich. Where once robbers and witches and vultures (perhaps) came, now stroll refined people, taking in the salubrious air of Esquiline Hill [Collis Esquilinus].

This poem is fairly straight forward. Even so, there is a bit of Roman geography one needs to know. Here’s a map of hilly Rome, with the Agger marked with a blue line. The Agger was the Agger Tarquini or Murus Servii Tullii, a defensive barrier erected by a Tarquinian king named Servius Tullus, who ruled in the sixth century B.C. If you look carefully, you can see it running through Rome’s main train station on Esquiline Hill (According to Wikipedia, parts of this defensive wall can be seen in the MacDonald’s in the station. So, if you have taken the train to Rome and walked around its environs, you have walked where this poem takes place. 

There are several individuals named in this poem. There is the witch Canidia, whom we have seen before, and some new characters with names, almost Dickensenian in the images they invoke. There is the scurra [parasite, sponger]  Pantolabus (a Greek word meaning all-take). There is also the nepos [nephew or spendthrift] Nomentanus (a Roman surname, someone from Nomentum, now Mentana). Finally there are three odd ducks, Iulius, the fragilis Pediatia (nickname of a particular Roman knight on account of his effeminacy), and the thief Voranus (perhaps a freedman of Catulus, and a name that makes me think of voro devour, waste, eat greedily).

And there are two mythical names: Hecaten, who presides over encantations and Tisiphone, one of the furies. Her name means “avenger of murder.”

Translation ::

¶Once I was a tree trunk, a junk piece of fig wood.
when a carpenter man, unsure whether to make 
a Priapus or a stool, decided on a god,
so god I am, to birds and thieves a huge terror.
My right hand stops the crooks,(plus the red pole juttin’ 
out of my nasty crotch) and a reed stuck on my 
head spooks the pesky birds and keeps ‘em from settlin’ 
in the all-new gardens. Before a fellow slave
would put the bodies thrown out of their cramped cells and 
brought here in cheap boxes.Here was the cem’tery 
for the poor people, for the takers and wasters, 
for the filth of this world. Here a sign used to mark 
a field a thousand by three hundred feet: “Graves 
Uninheritable.” But now you can live on 
the “wholesome” Esquiline, stroll the “sun-filled” Agger, 
where just a bit ago, the bereaved would see a
field ugly with white bones. Okay, I’m not worried 
about being hassled and bothered as much by thieves—
and the usual wild beasts—as by those who with spells 
and potions bend men’s minds. I can’t get rid of ‘em,
no way to hinder ‘em, once the inconstant moon
sticks out her shining face, from gathering up bones
and herbs that can harm you. 
¶Me, I saw Canidia, her black cloak all cinched up, 
hurr’ing, barefoot, hair loose,with Sagana, older, 
yip-yowling. Their pallor made’em both look horrid. 
They began to claw the ground with their fingernails 
and with their teeth, to rip apart a black-wooled lamb. 
Its blood ‘n stuff was poured into the hole so that 
with this they could bring forth the departed, the souls 
who’d give’em the answers. And a figure of wool 
there was, another of wax.The bigger was of wool 
so it could lord overthe littler one through pain; 
the wax one stood there in humbly begging, slave-like 
as if about to die. One witch called on Hecate, 
the other one called on cruel Tisiphone. 
You’d see snakes and bitches from hell wand’ring around, 
a moon, red-shamed, watchin’ this stuff’d be hidin’ 
behind the big grave stones. Now, if I am lyin’ 
about any of this, let me smear my head with
crow shit, and let Julius come pee and crap on me,
and the twink Pediatia and the crook Voranus.
What should I say about it all? How the ghosts spoke 
first one then the other echoeing Sagana, 
sad and shrill, how they hid a wolf’s beard and snake fangs 
secretly in the earth and how the fire from the 
wax figure burned bigger and how I, innocent 
bystander, shuddered at the voices of the two 
Furies and at their deeds?
Just then, like the sound of an exploding bag,
with my ass splittin’ apart, fig-tree me farted,
and they ran to the city. You’d’ve seen Canidia’s
teeth come out, Sagana’s pile of false hair come off,
herbs and bewitched love-knots come tumblin’ (what a scream!)
out of their arms’ embrace.

[translation © 2015 by James Rumford]

The Poem ::

|1¯ x |2 ¯ x |3 ¯ x |4 ¯ x |5 ¯˘˘ |6 ¯ ¯ | 
Hexameter: x = a long ¯ or two shorts ˘˘. The fifth foot can be ¯ ¯ , as it is in line 15, but this is quite rare.

ōlīm|trūncŭs ĕr|ām fī|cūlnŭs ĭn|ūtĭlĕ|līgnūm
cūm făbĕr|īncēr|tūs scām|nūm făcĕ|rētnĕ Prĭ|āpūm

1  ¶Ōlim|truncus e|ram fī|culnus, in|ūtile|lignum, 
2  cum faber, | incer|tus scam|num face|retne Pri|āpum,
3    māluit | esse de|um. deus | inde ego|, fūrum avi|umque
4    maxima | formī|dō; nam | fūrēs | dextra co|ercet 
5    obscē|nōque ru|ber por|rectus ab | inguine | pālus;
6    ast im|portū|nās volu|crēs in | vertice ha|rundo
7    terret | fīxa ve|tatque no|vīs con|sīdere in | hortīs.
8    hūc prius | angus|tīs ē|iecta ca|dāvera | cellīs
9    conser|vus vī|lī por|tanda lo|cābat in | arcā;
10  hoc mise|rae plē|bī stā|bat com|mūne se|pulcrum,
11  Pantola|bō scur|rae Nō|mentā|nōque ne|pōtī.
12  mille pe|dēs in | fronte, tre|centōs | cippus in | agrum 
13  hīc dabat, | hērē|dēs monu|mentum| nē seque|rētur. 
14  nunc licet | Esquili|īs habi|tāre sa|lūbribus | atque
15  Aggere in | āprī|cō spati|ārī, | quō modo | tristēs 
16  albīs | infor|mem spec|tābant | ossibus | agrum;
17  eum mihi | nōn tan|tum fū|rēsque fe|raeque su|ētae
18  hunc vex|āre lo|cum cū|rae sunt | atque la|bōrī,
19  quantum | carmini|bus quae | versant | atque ve|nēnīs
20  hūmā|nōs ani|mōs : hās | nullō | perdere | possum
21  nec prohi|bēre mo|dō, simul | ac vaga | Lūna de|cōrum
22  prōtulit | os, quīn | ossa le|gant her|bāsque no|centis.
23 ¶Vīdī  ego|met ni|grā suc|cinctam | vādere | pallā 
24  Cānidi|am, pedi|bus nū|dīs pas|sōque ca|pillō,
25  cum Saga|nā mā|iōre ulu|lantem | : pallor u|trāsque
26  fēcerat | horren|dās as|pectū. | scalpere | terram
27  unguibus | et pul|lam dī|vellere | mordicus | agnam
28  coepē|runt ; cruor | in fos|sam con|fūsus, ut | inde
29  mānıs | ēlice|rent, ani|mās res|ponsa da|tūrās. 
30  lānea et | effigi|ēs erat, | altera | cērea | : māior 
31  lānea, | quae poe|nīs com|pesceret | inferi|ōrem;
32  cērea | supplici|ter stā|bat, ser|vīlibus | ut quae
33  iam peri|tūra mo|dīs. Heca|ten vocat | altera, | saevam
34  altera | Tīsipho|nen : ser|pentēs | atque vi|dērēs
35  infer|nās er|rāre ca|nēs, Lū|namque ru|bentem,
36  nē foret | hīs tes|tīs, post |magna la|tēre se|pulcra.
37  mentior | at sī | quid, mer|dīs caput | inquiner | albīs
38  corvōr|um, atque in | mē veni|at mic|tum atque ca|cātum
39  Iūlius | et fragi|lis Pedi|ātia | fūrque Vo|rānus.
40  singula | quid memo|rem, quō| pactō al|terna lo|quentēs 
41  umbrae | cum Saga|nā reso|nārint | triste et a|cūtum, 
42  utque lup|ī bar|bam vari|ae cum | dente co|lūbrae 
43  abdide|rint fur|tim ter|rīs, et i|māgine | cēreā
44  largior | arserit | ignis, et | ut nōn | testis in|ultus
45  horrue|rim vō|cēs Furi|ārum et | facta du|ārum?
46  nam dis|plōsa so|nat quan|tum vē|sīca pe|pēdī
47  diffis|sā nate | fīcus : at | illae | currere in | urbem.
48  Cānidi|ae den|tēs, al|tum Saga|nae cali|endrum
49  excide|re atque her|bās at|que incan|tāta la|certīs
50  vincula | cum ma|gnō rī|sūque io|cōque vi|dērēs.

Delphin Ordo

1 Eram anteà stipes ficulnus, lignum iners: quando artifex dubius an scamnum fabricaret, and Priapum, maluit fieri Deum.    3 Exinde ego Deux extuli ingens terror prædonum atque volucrum.    Etenim dextra mea arcet prædones * * * [Obviously this part was two vulgar for the dauphin’s ears]* * * at arundo in summo capite infixa deterret aves molestas, se prohibet consitere in hortis recentibus.    8 Anteà conservus cadavera cellis arctis ejecta locabat istuc efferenda in vili sandapilà.    10 Hoc erat commune plebeculæ sepulcrum, Pantolabo sannioni, et Nomentano patrimonii dissipatori.    12 Istic cippus assignabat agri pedes milenos in latitudinem, trecentos verò in longitudinem, vetabatque ne sepulchrum ad hæredes pertineret.   14 Jam verò licet habitare in Esquiliis salubribus, et ambulare in colle aprico, ubi nuper mœsti cernebant agrum albis ossibus deformem.    15 Quanquam non tam ne angunt et vexant pædones ac feræ agrum istum infestare solitæ, quàm mulieres, quæ humanas mentes inflectunt incantamentis et veneficiis.   16 Has nullâ ratione possum abigere, aut prohibere quò minùs colligant ossa et herbas noxias, statim atque luna currens pulchrum ostendit vultum.   23 Ego ipse conspexi Canidiam atrâ veste succinctam incedere nudis pedibus, crinibus solutis, ejulantem cum Saganâ seniore. 25 Pallor ambas fecerat visu terribiles.   27 Humum cœperunt unguibus effodere: moxque discerpere dentibus oviculam nigram.   28 Cruor in scrobem effusus est, ut hinc umbras evocarent, animas responsa reddituras.   30 Porrò aderat imago lanea, et altera cerea.    31 Grandior lanea, quæ minorem ceream plecteret.   32 Cerea supplex procumbebat, servili ratione quippe mox interitura.   33 Veneficarum altera inclamat Hecaten, altera diram Tisiphonem.    34 Tum aspiceres currere angues, et canes Stygias; lunam verò erubescentem se abscondere post majora monumenta, ne testis adesset istis sceleribus.   37 Quod si aliquid mentior, conspurcetur meum caput, merdis albis corvorum: ac mictum et cacatum super me veniant Julius, mollis Pedacia, et Voranus fur.   40 Quid referam singula?    40 Quemadmodum altenatim colloquerentur animæ cum Saganâ, voce tenui et stridula?   42 Quomodo clam humo infoderint barbam lupi, et dentes colubræ maculosæ: utque ignis ingens corripuerit effigiem ceream; denique quo pacto aversatus sim præsens, atque vindicaverim verba actiones ambarum Furiarum istarum?    46  Etenim quanto sonitu crepat vesica disrupta; tanto ego ficulnus olim truncus divisis natibus crepui.    47  Protinùs autem illæ veneficæ fugere in urbem cœperunt.   48 Tumque non sine ludibrio et cachinnis aspexisses Canidiae dentes, ac sublimem Saganæ comam decidere, herbas item et licia brachiis fascinata.


:: 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.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Caution: Long Vowels Ahead

I wish that Latin dictionaries came with a warning label: 

Use with Caution! Vowel length is only a guess.

  A guess?! 
“You mean the dictionary could be wrong?” you ask.
“And the high school textbooks, too?”
“How is that possible?” You ask.

  The long and short of it is that the dictionaries and the textbooks we use were put together long after Latin died. No one knows anything about Latin pronunciation for sure, but before we get into the thick of it, let us start by saying this:

Latin has long and short syllables. The rhythm of Latin poetry is based on this simple fact.

A long syllable contains a long vowel:  ōs [mouth].

A short syllable contains a short vowel: os [bone].

But a short syllable becomes long, if the short vowel is followed by two or more consonants: osseus [bony]. (Modern spelling doesn’t require us to write ōsseus.)

This rule is so powerful that it applies even if the second consonant is in the following word: os fractum [broken bone]. Compare that to fractum os, in which os remains short.

This rule is too powerful, however. It needs some qualification. The rule, it turns out, is optional when the first consonant is 

p    b    t     d     qu   or  g

and the second consonant is

l     r     n   or  m

Thus there must have been two ways to pronounce a word like agricola. Some Romans may have said āgricola while others may have said agricola. No one can know for sure now.

These three rules—long vowels make long syllables, short vowels make short syllables, and double consonants often make long syllables—have another application. They determine whether the word is accented on the next to the last syllable or the one before that. Long Latin words are accented like this:

agri´ cola [farmer], agrā´ rius [relating to land]

But if the second to the last syllable contains a long vowel or a double consonant, the accent is:

Agrippī´na [a woman’s name] not Agri´ppīna 
agrest´is [rustic] not grestis

Of course the qualifying rule about double consonants applies here as well. Thus we have in Cassell’s dictionary:

trō´na [a married woman] as well as Mā´trona [the Marne].

What an easy system! The only thing you have to know is whether a vowel not followed by two consonants is long or not or whether the qualifying rule applies or not. This is where the dictionary comes in. It will tell you whether the word is ōs or os or how to pronounce matrona. Unfortunately the dictionary-makers and their accomplices, the textbook-makers, really messed things up.

Charles Jenny, Jr., who revised Smith and Thompson’s First Year Latin, decided that vox [voice], which is really voks, needed to be marked long: vōx. He could have left it unmarked, since the vowel is followed by two consonants. Here are more examples of his illogical and unnecessary marking: dēfēnsiō [defense], āctus [driven], Etrūscī [Etruscans], and fōrmo [I form]. 

To make matters worse, dictionaries and textbooks don’t always agree. The Lewis and Short dictionary has Matrona, not Mātrona. In Cassell’s Latin dictionary, we find dixi [I said]. In Lewis and Short, we have dīxi, and in Kennedy’s The Shorter Latin Primer, we see dixī. 

Why all the discrepancies? It’s because Latin has been dead a long time. The only thing we have to go on is what they left behind. Some ancient grammarians wrote about vowel length. Sometimes the Romans used a tick mark called an apex to mark long vowels, and in the case of the long i, they simply wrote it taller:

Roman poets, too, left behind a wealth of information about vowel length, for the words they chose had to fit the meter. A word like amare [to love] was used when the meter called for ˘ ¯ ˘. Thus, we mark the word amāre. (Amāre was never used when the meter called for ¯ ˘ ¯ ). The poets also helped us figure out what happens to the vowel when it is followed by two consonants, as described in the rules above. Thus, amāre flōrem [to love the flower] can only fit the meter ˘ ¯ ¯ ¯ ˘ 

Sometime in the eighteenth century, someone decided to use the macrons [¯] and breves [˘] employed in scanning a line of poetry to mark vowel quantity. This coupling of marks used in scansion and marks used to indicate vowel length was brilliant. Too bad that some modern Latinists were a bit overzealous and destroyed the simplicity that was before them by unnecessarily marking a word like vox as vōx or by marking the first a in matrona as mātrōna. In this last case, was the lexicographer influenced by etymology, since mater is marked māter? This is the kind of thing that complicates spelling systems. Some pedant tries to show off. Just think of the spelling of ‘doubt.’ The b was inserted to show that the word had come from dubitum, as if we cared.

So, what of Horace? All I can say is that it has been incredibly difficult marking his odes up with macrons and breves for the new edition of my Carpe Diem. I never imagined what a can of worms I had opened. I never dreamed in my life that textbooks and dictionaries marked some words according to their own sets of rules, rules unknown to me.

As I mentioned above, I found three different ways to mark dixi. In the odes, we find Horace making no commitment as to the quantity of the first syllable but as for the second, he intends for it to be long. (Here the tilde (~) means either short or long according to the meter):
dĩxī sǎcrāmēntum: ībǐmǔs, ībǐmũs, [II:17:10]

In the next two examples, it looks as if the first syllable was either long or short. Only Lewis and Short give us mājor. As for Cassell’s, Jenner, and Kennedy, all of them write maior. Clearly they must be wrong, for in III:20:8, Horace intends for the first syllable to be long. 

māiǒr ǎn īllī [III:20:8]

mãiōr Něrōnūm mōx grǎvě prōēlǐũm [IV:14:14]

Dictionaries and grammar books sometimes run contrary to Horace. Although it is possible that Horace may enjoy a bit of poetic licence from time to time, as far as I can tell, he does so very rarely. In fact, when he does seem to veer away from following strict metrical rules, scholars come to his rescue and cite arcane rules of vowel quantity as in these lines; for rīdēt and perrūpīt, they say, are ancient forms of the verb:

āngǔlūs rīdēt, ǔbǐ nōn Hymēttō [II:6:14]
pērrūpīt Ǎchěrōnta Hērcǔlěūs lǎbõr [I:3:36]

In the following examples, however, no scholar has come to the rescue to explain why Horace changes the quantity of the vowel. In all of the dictionaries I have seen, testudo ‘tortoise shell, lyre’ is marked testūdo, but in these two examples, Horace turns o into ō.

tūquě tēstūdō rěsǒnārě sēptẽm [III:11:3]

grātǎ tēstūdō Iǒvǐs, ō lǎbōrũm [I:32:14]

Jenner, however, to his credit, sides with Horace. But it is John Grant in his Institutes of Latin Grammar (London: Whittaker, 1823, pg. 333), who provides us with a bit of an answer. He says that a final o is common, i.e., either long or short and sensibly marks these “common” cases with a tilde: õ.

Finally, time and time again, marking the long vowels meant making sure that I understood what Horace was saying. Did he intend to use the ablative or not? Did he really mean to make the noun plural? In the following two examples I discovered that, according to Lewis and Short and Cassell’s there is a big difference between lavit and lāvit. Lavit is ‘he washes,’ and lāvit is ‘he washed.’ The meter makes it clear which tense Horace had in mind, or does it? Perhaps the dictionaries are wrong. Maybe it didn’t matter to Horace what the quantity of the a in lavit was. 

vīllāquě, flāvūs quām Tǐběrīs lǎvǐt [II:3:18]

sǐmǔl ūnctōs Tǐběrīnīs ǔměrōs lāvǐt ǐn ūndīs [III:12:7]

Niall Rudd in the Loeb Series translates the first as “and your villa washed by the yellow Tiber.” The second, he translates as “as soon as he bathes his oiled shoulders in the waters of the Tiber.” Should Rudd have written “has bathed in the waters of the Tiber”? Maybe. As for my translation done in December 2009, I wrote: “washes his oiled arms in the waves of the Tiber.” Somehow the present tenses fits the meaning I think Horace had in mind. Let me look in Jenner’s highschool textbook. Ah ha! He gives the past tense as lavit. Somebody’s wrong, and I don’t think for a moment that it’s Horace.

As I said at the onset: I wish Latin dictionaries and textbooks came with a warning label.

:: 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, March 26, 2015

Carpe Diem Revised

A few weeks ago, I decided to revise my book Carpe Diem. I wanted to mark the long vowels for all of the odes and indicate the meter. This turned out to be no easy task. There are no books on the web or in the library that show vowel length, as it is indicated in a Latin dictionary, for each of the odes. Meter is everywhere discussed, but the peculiarities of Latin meter make it sometimes difficult to figure out the scansion for each line Horace wrote. 

Here are the first few lines of the "non omnis moriar" ode (III:30):

Exegi monumentum aere perennius
regalique situ pyramidum altius,
quod non imber edax, non Aquilo impotens

Unless you are the most excellent of students, these lines are difficult to penetrate. With the long vowels marked, you might have a better chance to see the grammatical glue holding them together:

Ēxēgī monumentum aere perennius
rēgālīque sitū pȳramidum altius,
quod nōn imber edax, nōn Aquilō impotens

As for the meter, the books say that it is the first asclepiad, which looks like this with a pattern of long ( ¯ ) and short ( ˘ ) symbols and a squiggly line ( ~ ) to indicate that the syllable may be either long or short:

¯ ¯ ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ | ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ˘ ~
Knowing the meter is only the first step. Applying that meter, in other words, making it fit the lines can be excruciatingly difficult. Take the first line. There are too many syllables. Something has to give. What gives are the syllables like -um and situations were two vowels collide. These syllables are elided, erased—not said. If I mark these syllables in grey, you begin to see how the meter works, and, more importantly, how the line is to be read.

Ēxēgī monumentum aere perennius
rēgālīque sitū pȳramidum altius,
quod nōn imber edax, nōn Aquilō impotens

Thus these lines should be read something like this:

Ēxēgī monumentaere perennius
rēgālīque sitū pȳramidaltius,
quod nōn imber edax, nōn Aquilimpotēns

Of course, in revising Carpe Diem in this way meant that I had to redo much of the book. In the course of such travail précieux, as a French editor of mine once said, I found many inconsistencies and errors in the first edition of the book, which I corrected, keeping my fingers crossed that I didn't inadvertently spawn a new generation of mistakes.

Below is the introduction to the revised edition along with some sample pages. For more about this book, go to my blog posting of  October 13, 2013:

And if you are interested in purchasing a copy for only $11.50, go here:

or go to and paste this in search: Rumford diem

Monday, January 19, 2015

Faith, Peace, Honor, Grace, and Virtue :: Carmen Saeculare

"Spring" by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

In 17 BC, Augustus decided to usher in a new age. What better way to do that than to redefine old rituals and give them new meaning: that is, make the old serve to legitimize the new. What was the old? The Ludi Tarentini which were last performed in 249 BC. They would have been performed in 149, but there was civil unrest. So, disregarding an exact 100-year cycle or saeculum, Augustus chose Horace to compose a poem 232 years later. (Scholars say that the honor would have gone to Vergil, but he had died two years before.)  

Horace filled the poem with what the emperor wanted to hear, needed to hear. As I read the poem I imagined rallies in 1960s China or in today’s North Korea. But such a comparison may be unfair. Horace’s Carmen Saeculare may simply have the air of a patriotic school pageant in Middle America—benign and needed and joyous, for in this poem you will find religion and history and the values worth holding onto: fides, pax, honos, pudor, et virtus.

Carmen Saeculare is not too difficult, but there is one stanza (lines 25-28) that has proved particularly nettlesome. Scholars don’t know what to make of it. Take the first line of the stanza, line 25, which addresses the Fates or Parcae. In it, we have, some say, a Greek construction: an adjective + the perfect infinitive:

Vōsque vērācēs cecinisse, Parcae,
And you, true-to-have-sung Fates,
You, Fates, who have sung true

Then come the next three lines packed with meaning:

quod semel dīctum est stabilisque rērum
what once    was said    [as] a fixed-of-things-
terminus servet, bona iam peractīs
land-marker will serve, good fates now to things said
     iungite fāta

Quod could mean ‘which’ or ‘because’ or ‘and it.’ Probably it means ‘and it.’ Terminus could mean ‘boundary marker’ or the name of the god who protected boundaries, but I think it refers to the boundary of time, which the Fates have decreed to be the interval between the games. Servet could mean ‘to keep,’ ‘to observe,’or ‘pay attention to.’ Even so, it seems to have the force of ‘to serve as’ as in the French se servir de. Finally, peractīs means not only ‘completed things’ but also ‘things said,’ as in Livy’s phrase: tum peregit verbis auspicia [I:18]. Thus the idea of the entire stanza seems to be:

O Fates, bring good fortune on 
what you said once before
which we are to do now. 

This seems a bit different from Nial Rudd’s:

You Fates, who truly tell what has once been decreed (and may that be preserved by the immovable landmarker of our fortunes), add a happy destiny to what has already been fulfilled. [Loeb, 33, pg. 264]

Translation ::

You, Apollo and Diana, 
the forest’s power, 
sky’s illumined grace,
are worshipped, 
must be worshipped.
Grant our prayers 
in this sacred time,
when Sybilline verses 
prophesied that chosen 
girls and chaste boys
would sing to the gods 
the Seven Hills so please.

O Giving Sun,  
by shining chariot 
you bring then hide the day, 
arise changed yet stay the same;
may you see nothing 
greater than Rome.

Duly ease 
the births, 
full term,   
gentle Ilithya.
Look after 
if you accept
being so called,
or Genitalis.
give us children, 
bless the senate’s decrees 
on marriage for women 
and the Lex Marita. 
Make us rich
with offspring 
so that the fixed orb 
of one hundred ten years 
will again bring songs 
and crowd-filled games 
for three shining days 
and as many pleasing nights. 

Truthful you, 
did sing, O Fates, 
and this was said once, 
and may such serve as 
a stable marker of events. 
Tie good fortune 
to what already
has been done.

May Earth fertile with fruit 
and cattle give Ceres 
a wheat-eared crown. 
May health-giving water 
and Jupiter’s breeze 
nourish new growth.

With your sword hidden, 
Apollo, kind and gentle, 
hear the supplicant boys.
You, Moon, two-horned queen 
of the stars, hear the girls.

If Rome is your work,
and a band 
of Trojan troops 
did take hold 
of the Etruscan shore—
told to change city and gods 
with a fortune-favored voyage, 
for them, unscathed 
through burning Troy,
Aeneas the Pure, 
surviving his homeland,
prepared a safe journey, 
he who would restore
more than what was left behind—
then, O gods, 
give sound morals
to the docile youth,
O gods, quiet lives
to the peaceful agèd,
to the Romulum people
and children
and every glory. 

And what the famed 
flesh and blood 
of Anchises and Venus, 
superior to 
the warring enemy, 
merciful when 
they’re thrown, 
asks of you 
with white oxen,
may he get.

Now on sea and land 
the Mede fears 
the mighty troops, 
the Alban axes. 
Now the once 
haughty Scythians 
and the Indians 
seek our council. 
Now Faith and Peace, 
Honor and old-time
and Manliness
dare return, 
and blessed Abundance 
is seen with her 
full horn.

And the seer Phoebus,
beautiful with 
his flashing bow, 
friend to the nine Muses.
He, by the healing arts, 
relieves the body’s 
tired limbs,
if he looks 
with favor 
upon the Palatine altars 
and happily prolongs
the Roman State 
and Latium 
another five years,
into a ever better age.  

And Diana, who holds
the Aventine and Algida, 
cares for the prayers of 
the Fifteen Men and 
bends a loving ear 
to the children’s wishes:
that Jove and all the gods 
hear these things 
is the good and 
certain hope
I bring home, 
the chorus, too,
skilled in singing praises 
to Phoebe 
and Diana. 

translation © 2015 by James Rumford

The Original Poem ::

Horace’s words
In Prose
Delphin Ordo





1 Phoebe, silvārum || que potens | Diāna,
lūcidum coelī || decus, o | colendī
semper et cultī, || date quae | precāmur
     tempore | sācrō,
[O] Phoebe Diānaque silvārum potens, 
decus lūcidum cœlī! O semper colendī 
et cultī! [Vos] date quae [in] tempore 
     sācrō precāmur,
O, Apollo, et Diana silvarum domina, 
illustre cœli ornamentum; O, semper 
honorandi, et, honorati, concedite quæ 
     rogamus diebus solemnibus istis: 
Phoebe: Phoebus est Apollo, solis deus.

5 quō Sibyllīnī || monuēr|e versūs
virginēs lectās || puerōs|que castōs
dis, quibus septem || placuēr|e collēs,
     dīcere | carmen.
[in] quō versūs Sibyllīnī virginēs lectās 
puerōsque castōs monuēr[unt] ‹dis, 
quibus septem collēs placuēr[unt], 
     carmen› dīcere. 
in quibus carmina Sibyllæ jubent 
puellas eximias et pueros castos 
hymnum decantare numinibus, à 
quibus proteguntur septem colles.
Sibyllīnī: erant vātēs fēminīnae; celeberrima erat Sibylla Cūmārum, oppidī in vicinā Neapoli. 
monuēre: imperāverunt, iussērunt
quibus septem collēs placuēre: id est: septem collēs dis (diis) grātī fuērunt [have been]

alme Sol, currū || nitidō | diem quī
10 prōmis et cēlās || aliusque | et īdem
nāsceris, possis || nihil urb|e Rōmā
     vīsere māius.
Sol alme, [tū] quī currū nitidō diem 
prōmis et cēlās aliusque et īdem 
nāsceris, nihil māius urbe Rōmā
     vīsere possis.
Sol omnia conservans, qui splendido 
curru lucem producis et aufers, diversus-
que et idem oriris, utinam nihil queas 
aspicere excellentius civitate Romanâ.
aliusque: atque alius
possis: subiunctivum: utinam possis
urbe Rōmā . . . maius: maius quam urbem Rōmām

rīte mātūrōs || aperīr|e partūs,
lēnis Īlīthy||ia, tuēr|e mātrēs,
15 sīve tū Lūcīn||a probās | vocārī
     seu Geni|tālis:
rite partūs mātūrōs lēnis aperīre,
Īlīthyia, mātrēs tuēre, sive tū
Lūcīna vocārī probās
     seu Genitālis:
O, Ilithya benignè procurans tempestivos 
partus, seu Lucina seu Genitalis amas 
nominari, defende matres. 
Īlīthyiā: Iunonis filia, quae matribus parientibus auxillium dabat.
Lūcīna: dea matrum parientium.
Genitālis: cognomen Diānae, quia super matrēs parientibus etiam vigilat (tuetur).
Nota bene: textum mutavi, videlicet, scripsi virgulam post “partūs,” quod arbitror “lēnis” esse casum vocativum cum “Īlīthyia.”

dīva, prōdūcās || subolem, | patrumque
prosperēs decrēt||a super | iugandīs
fēminīs prōlis||que novae | ferāci
     20 lēge ma|rītā:
[O] dīva, [tū] subolem prōdūcās decrētaque patrum 
super iugandīs fēminīs lēgeque marītā ‹prōlis novae 
ferāci› prosperēs
O, Dea prolem Romanam multiplica, 
et promove Senatusconsulta de jungendis 
connubio [sic] mulieribus, et lege maritali 
novæ sobolis fertili.
novae ferāci lēge: id est lex nova maritālis Augustī in annō 18 a.C.n. dēcrēta

certus undēnōs || deciēs | per annōs
orbis ut cantūs || referat|que lūdōs
ter diē clārō || totiens|que grātā
     nocte fre|quentıs.
ut orbis certus—undēnōs deciēs per annōs—
referat cantūs lūdōsque frequentıs ter diē clārō 
totiensque nocte grātā.
Circulus etiam centum et decem annis 
evolutus reducat cantilenas ac ludos 
celebres tribus diebus lucidis totidemque 
noctibus jucundis. 
undēnōs deciēs per annōs orbis: id est orbis vel cyclus CX annōrum secundum ōrāculum Sibyllārum. Ad finem orbis erant lūdī carminaque. Orbis erat ūnum saeculum, id est, unā generātio vel annī C vel in hāc rē CX. Igitur, celēbrātio “carmen saeculare” vocāta est.
ter diē: ludi saeculares celebrabantur tribus diebus et tribus noctibus.
frequentıs: frequentēs, id est: populō plēnōs

25 vōsque vērācēs || cecinis|se, Parcae,
quod semel dīctum || est stabilis|que rērum
terminus servet, || bona iam | peractīs
     iungite | fāta.
[O] Parcae, vōsque vērācēs cecinisse quod semel 
dictum est terminusque stabilis rerum servet, fāta 
bona iam peractīs iungite.
Vos autem Parcæ, quæ semel statuta verè 
prænunciâstis, et fixus ordo rerum custodit, 
prospera fata addite jam transactis.
vērācēs cecinisse: in modō linguae Graecae. In modo Lātinae: vērācēs in canendō

fertilis frūgum || pecoris|que tellus
30 spīceā dōnet || Cererem | corōnā;
nūtriant fētūs || et aquae | salūbrēs
     et Iovis | aurae.
Tellus fertilis frūgum pecorisque 
Cererem corōnā spīceā dōnet;
et aquae salūbrēs et aurae Iovis
fētūs nūtriant.
Terra frugibus fœcunda et gregibus 
det Cereri coronam è spicis: Salubres 
aquæ et aër Jovis alant fœtus. 
spīceā Cererem corōnā: Spica est plantae pars hordinis vel tritici quae grana tenet. Dea Ceres coronam habuit quae spicis texta erat.
dōnet: dōno, to present. tellus Cererem corōnā dōnet = the earth presents Ceres with a crown. Cf. tellus Cereri corōnam det. 

conditō mītis || placidus|que telō
supplicēs audī || puerōs, | Apollo;
sīderum rēgīn||a bicorn|is, audī,
     Lūna, pu|ellās:
[O] Apollo, telō conditō, mītis placidusque,
puerōs supplicēs audī; [o] Luna, rēgīna bicornis
sīderum, puellās audī:
Phœbe sagittis reconditis clemens et 
benigne, eaudi pueros supplicantes: 
O, Luna bicornis, astrorum princeps, 
exaudi virgines: 
conditō telō: Post victoriam in Actio, Augustus dixit Romam fide Phoebi vicisse. Itaque, iussit simulacrum magnum Apollonis fieri. Saepe Apollo arcum sagittasque tenet, sed Augustus volebat deum lyram plectrumque tenire. Tela in latere Apollonis posita sunt, vel, ut dicit Horatius, “condita.” 

Rōma sī vestrum || est opus, | Īliaeque
lītus Ētruscum || tenuēr|e turmae,
iussa pars mūtār||e Lares | et urbem
   sospite | cursū,
Sī Rōma opus vestrum est, turmaeque Īliae
lītus Ētruscum tenuēr[unt] (pars iussa
Lares et urbem cursū sospite mūtāre) 
Si quidem Roma est vestrum opus, et 
ad ripam Italicam felici navigatione 
apulerunt catervæ Trojanæ, homines 
jussi mutare domicilia et civitatem

cui per ardentem || sine fraud|e Trōiam
castus Aenēas || patriae | superstes
līberum mūnīvit || iter, | daturus
     plūra | relictīs:
cui castus Aenēas, patriae superstes, iter līberum 
per Trōiam ardentem sine fraude mūnīvit,
plūra relictīs daturus:
quibus pius Æneas viam tutam paravit 
inter incensam Trojam illæsis, ipseque 
post patriam stans, ampliora donaturus 
quàm relicta fuerant. 

dī, probōs mōrēs|| docilī | iuventae,
dī, senectutī || placidae | quietem,
Rōmulae gentī || date remque | prolemque
     et decus | omne.
[o] dī, date mōrēs probōs iuventae docilī; [o] dī, quietem
senectutī placidae, remque prolemque et decus omne
gentī Rōmulae.
O, Numina date bonam indolem juventuti 
flexibili, tranquillitatem senectuti, populo 
denique romano divitias, sobolem, gloriam 

quaeque vōs bōbus || venerāt|ur albīs
clārus Anchīsae || Veneris|que sanguis,
impetret, bellan||te prior, | iacentem
     lēnis in | hostem.
impetretque sanguis clārus Ānchīsae 
Venerisque (bellante prior, lēnis in hostem 
iacentem) [ea] quae vōs bōbus albīs venerātur.
Illustris verò progenies Anchisæ et Veneris, 
quæ nunc juvencis candidis vos colit, 
regnet superior hoste bellum inferente, 
mitis aut eum erga subjectum. 
quaeque vōs venerātur: veneror regit duōs accusativōs, e.g., Ego Deum longam vītam veneror.
clārus sanguis: illustris et praeclara prōgenies, i.e., Octāvius Augustus Caesar
Anchīsae: Anchīsa vel Anchīses erat pater Ænēae. Mater eius erat Venus. 
impetret: obtineat

iam mari terrā||que manūs | potentıs
Mēdus Albānās||que timet | secūrıs,
iam Scythae rēspon||sa petunt | superbī
     nūper et | Indī.
iam Mēdus [nostrās] manūs potentıs secūrısque Albānās 
mari terrāque timet. iam Scythae Indīque nuper superbī
[nostra] rēsponsa petunt.
Jam terrâ marique Partus formidat vires 
magnas atque auctoritatem Romanorum. 
Jam mandata expectant Scythæ Indique 
paulò ante ferociores.
potentıs: potentēs
Albānās secūrıs: Albānās secūrēs, i.e., arma Rōmāna; hic symbolus auctoritātis Rōmānōrum. Albānī erant gens in Lātiō. In Lātiō Ascanius, fīlius Ænēae, urbem Albam Longam condidit. Alba Longa erat «Māter Rōmae». Cā. 650 a.C.n. dēlēta est.
rēsponsa petunt: consilium nostrum volunt.  

iam Fides et Pax | et Honos | Pudorque
priscus et neglecta | redīre | Virtūs
audet, appāretque | beāt|a plenō
     Cōpia | cornū.
iam Fides et Pax et Honos Pudorque priscus
et Virtūs neglecta redīre audet, Cōpia beāta
cornū appāret.
Jam Fides, et Pax, et Honor, atque antiquus 
Pudor, et Virtus contempta remigrare non 
dubitat; et abundantia referto cornu felix 
appāret: appāreo -ui -itum

augur et fulgent||e decō|rus arcū
Phoebus acceptusque || novem | Camēnīs,
quī salūtārī || levat art|e fessōs
     corporis | artūs,
Phoebus, augur et arcū fulgente decōrus, novemque
Camēnīs acceptus, quī arte salūtārī artūs fessōs
coporis levat,
Apollo vaticaniis et arcu splendido conspicuus, 
novemque Musis amicus qui arte medicâ sublevat 
ægrotantia corporis membra, 
acceptus: amātus, amicus, carus
arte salūtārī: ars salūtāris est ars medica vel ars salūtis. Notā duo verba similia: “arte” (modō) et “artūs” (membra).

sī Palātīnās || videt aequ|us arās,
remque Rōmānam || Latium|que fēlix
alterum in lustrum || melius|que semper
     prōrogat aevum.
sī arās Palātīnās aequus videt, remque Rōmānam 
Latiumque in lustrum alterum aevumque melius 
semper fēlix prōrogat.

si placidè intuetur arces Palatinas, in 
lustrum sequens ac meliorem semper 
ætatem propaget imperium Romanum, 
Italiam que prosperet. 

quaeque Aventīnum | tenet Al|gidumque,
quindecim Diān|a precēs | virōrum
cūrat et vōtīs || puerōrum | amīcās
     applicat | aurıs.
Diānaque quae Aventīnum Algidumque tenet,
precēs quindecim virōrum cūrat et aurıs amīcās
vōtīs puerōrum applicat.
Diana verò quæ Aventino monti præsidet, 
et Algivo, suscipiat vota quindecim virûm, 
atque propitias aures præbeat juvenum 
Aventīnum: Aventīnus est unus e septem montibus Romae.
Algidum: Est Mons Algidus, non procul Romā.
quindecem: id est: quindecem sacerdotes qui curabant has caerimonias.

haec Iovem sentīr||e deōs|que cunctōs
spem bonam certam||que domum | reporto,
doctus et Phoebi || chorus et | Diānae
     dīcere | laudēs.
[ego], et chorus Phoebī et laudēs Diānae dīcere
doctus, spem bonam certamque ‹Iovem deōsque
cunctōs haec sentīre› domum reporto.
Ego chorus peritus canendi laudes Apollinis 
ac Dianæ, domum refero bonam certamque 
fiduciam, in talia consentire Jovem et Deos 

:: 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.