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.