Sunday, 29 July 2012

Petronius, Cena Trimalchionis c. 61 and 62. A were-wolf story....

This extract is from the Cena Trimalchionis  `Trimalchio’s Dinner’, which is a part of the Satyricon written by Petronius Arbiter (27-66). Petronius was a high official under Nero. He was Nero’s advisor (arbiter) in matters of taste. He was accused of  treason by the commander of the emperor’s guard and Nero, who was higly suspicious and trusted no one.ordered him to be arrested. On hearing this, Petronius did not wait for this arrest, but gave a party for his slaves in the evening and then commited suicide,  escaping the humilations and tortures Nero wanted to inflict on him. See:
The Satyricon has only been partly transmitted, but dispite this it had an enormous influence on Western literature  and is by many considered to be the first real novel.  The frame narrative is about the adventures of Encolpius, a former gladiator, who is the narrator of the work. Cena Trimalchionis it about a festive banquet given by the former slave and now nouveau riche Trimalchio. With unrestrained  sarcasm and humor Petronius describes the tastless and ostentatious display of wealth  by Trimalchio. In doing so, Petronius is showing how the Roman upperclass thought about the would be elite. Actually,  nothing has changed since then, as we can all imagine newly  rich people with a hilarious taste, They may be better off qua money, but our taste is superior!
In his description of the banquet, Petronius made use of lots of colloquialisms and Latin slang – often for the first or only time encountered here. This makes his work also highly interesting from the point of historical and social  linguistics.
For further information:
This site gives also some links to online translations other than the translation on Perseus,
In this part of the story Trimalchio asks one of his guests – Nicerotos - to entertain the other guests with what had happened to him and then Nicerotos tells about his encounter with a were-wolf….

Note: Fellini's Satyricon is loosely based on Petronius . Here is an extract:
[LXI] Postquam ergo omnes bonam mentem bonamque valitudinem sibi optarunt, Trimalchio ad Nicerotem respexit et: "Solebas, inquit, suavius esse in convictu; nescio quid nunc taces nec muttis. Oro te, sic felicem me videas, narra illud quod tibi usu venit." Niceros delectatus affabilitate amici: "Omne me, inquit, lucrum transeat, nisi iam dudum gaudimonio dissilio, quod te talem video. Itaque hilaria mera sint, etsi timeo istos scolasticos ne me rideant. Viderint: narrabo tamen, quid enim mihi aufert, qui ridet? satius est rideri quam derideri."
Haec ubi dicta dedit
talem fabulam exorsus est:
"Cum adhuc servirem, habitabamus in vico angusto; nunc Gavillae domus est. Ibi, quomodo dii volunt, amare coepi uxorem Terentii coponis: noveratis Melissam Tarentinam, pulcherrimum bacciballum. Sed ego non mehercules corporaliter aut propter res venerias curavi, sed magis quod benemoria fuit. Si quid ab illa petii, nunquam mihi negatum; fecit assem, semissem habui; in illius sinum demandavi, nec unquam fefellitus sum. Huius contubernalis ad villam supremum diem obiit. Itaque per scutum per ocream egi aginavi, quemadmodum ad illam pervenirem: nam, ut aiunt, in angustiis amici apparent.
bonam mentem bonamque valitudinem: `a good spirit and a good health’ An afterdinner toast
sibi: each other (the guests)
Niceros a greek name so `os’ in stead of `us’.
suavius: more cheerful
muttio: to mutter
quod tibi usu venit: what happened to you. (literally `came in use to you’)
affabilitas, -atis: friendliness
Omne me lucrum transeat: may all profit  pass me by
nisi iam dudum: if not for long already
gaudimonium = gaudium
dissilio: to leap or burst asunder (gaudimonio dissilo:I burst assunder from joy)
talem: `so well off”
merus:  pure, unmixed. hilaria mera = only merriment
timeo ne: I fear that
viderint: (fut ex ind) =  they will have seen it = Let them just be
quid enim mihi aufert, qui ridet? because what takes someone away from me, who laughs?
satius est rideri quam derideri:  better to be laughed at than to be laughed out
exordior -  exorsus sum: to begin, to start
servio:  to be a slave
vicus: narrow street
coepio coepi: to start
copo = caupo  -onis: petty tradesman, huckster, innkeeper
nosco novi: kennen (noveratis: 2 pl plsqm perf.)
Melissam Tarentinam Melissa from Tarentum. Melissa is a Greek name , meaning `honey-bee’. Tarentum (currently Taranto) was a Greek colony in the south of Italy, founded by Sparta in 706 BC. Even long after it fell under Roman rule, Greek was srtill spoken there and even up to this day there are still about 60.000 speakers of  a Greek dialect in Southern Italy.
bacciballum: Word of uncertain derivation and the only occurence of this word in Latin literature. Maybe related to bac(c)a `berry’. The meaning is however clear: `nice chick’ or whatever slang you can find for a pretty woman.
non corporaliter aut propter res venerias curavi:. I havent taken care of her in a bodely way or for love’s sake
benemoria: according to decent behaviour
fecit assem, semissem habui:  when she earned an as (little coin), I got half an as
sinus:here: purse.
demando: to intrust 
fefellitus:from  fallo,  to deceive (fefellitus is an archaic ppp. Classical Latic has falsus)
contubernalis: husband
ad villam: at the villa ( a villa is not only a house, but also includes the surrounding territory, often used for farming)
supremum diem obiit: he went to his final day = he died
per scutum per ocream: by shield, by greave (ocrea = greave, leggin of metal, to protect the legs). The expression is taken from gladiator fights, meaning: in every possible way.
egi aginavi: aginavi is vulgar Latin (= the Latin of the vulgus `people’, not necessarely `obscene’) agino has the same root as ago. It means `to hasten’ so `I acted, hastened’
quemadmodum; in whatever way
in angustiis: in difficulties

[LXII] "Forte dominus Capuae exierat ad scruta scita expedienda. Nactus ego occasionem persuadeo hospitem nostrum, ut mecum ad quintum miliarium veniat. Erat autem miles, fortis tanquam Orcus. Apoculamus nos circa gallicinia; luna lucebat tanquam meridie. Venimus inter monimenta: homo meus coepit ad stelas facere; sedeo ego cantabundus et stelas numero. Deinde ut respexi ad comitem, ille exuit se et omnia vestimenta secundum viam posuit. Mihi anima in naso esse; stabam tanquam mortuus. At ille circumminxit vestimenta sua, et subito lupus factus est. Nolite me iocari putare; ut mentiar, nullius patrimonium tanti facio. Sed, quod coeperam dicere, postquam lupus factus est, ululare coepit et in silvas fugit. Ego primitus nesciebam ubi essem; deinde accessi, ut vestimenta eius tollerem: illa autem lapidea facta sunt. Qui mori timore nisi ego? Gladium tamen strinxi et <in tota via> umbras cecidi, donec ad villam amicae meae pervenirem. In larvam intravi, paene animam ebullivi, sudor mihi per bifurcum volabat, oculi mortui; vix unquam refectus sum. Melissa mea mirari coepit, quod tam sero ambularem, et: 'Si ante, inquit, venisses, saltem nobis adiutasses; lupus enim villam intravit et omnia pecora tanquam lanius sanguinem illis misit. Nec tamen derisit, etiamsi fugit; senius enim noster lancea collum eius traiecit'. Haec ut audivi, operire oculos amplius non potui, sed luce clara Gai nostri domum fugi tanquam copo compilatus; et postquam veni in illum locum, in quo lapidea vestimenta erant facta, nihil inveni nisi sanguinem. Vt vero domum veni, iacebat miles meus in lecto tanquam bovis, et collum illius medicus curabat. Intellexi illum versipellem esse, nec postea cum illo panem gustare potui, non si me occidisses. Viderint quid de hoc alii exopinissent; ego si mentior, genios vestros iratos habeam."

forte: by  chance
Capuae: so the manuscript. Some editors of the Satyricon have changed it to Capuam, which is classical Latin, but probably Capuae is a locative form. The meaning is anyway clear `he went to Capua’.
ad scruta scita expedianda scruta – orum `trash’,  scita here `suitable items’. so `odds and ends’
expedio:  `to set free’ , either for selling or for buying. As this is the only passage in Latin literature where ad scruta scita expedianda occurs, it is impossible to say what ia meant
nanciscor nactus sum: to gain
hospes,  - it is: guest
millliarium: milestone
Orcus:god of the underworld, Death. . fortis tanquam Orcus `very strong’
apoculo: `to toddle off’ (Latin slang)
gallicinium: cock-crowing, used only transf. as a specification of time, for the last watch of the night, the break of day, early dawn.
monimentum: grave-monument
ad stelas facere:  for going to the grave steles. But for doing what? Commentators suspect that a word is missing. For counting the steles? Reading the inscriptions? Or to piss? The last possebilety was put forward by Franz Bücheler (1837-1908). Indeed, there is an epitaph asking: `Hospes, ad hunc tumulum ne meias ossa precantur’(Stranger, my bones beg not to piss against this grave). Within the context of this story this seems to me to most likely solution.
cantabundus = cantans (canto: to sing)
exuo, -ui, -utus: zich ontkleden
vestimenta: clothing
secundum: next
Mihi anima in naso esse:  My breath is in my nose ( esse is a historic infinitive)`my heart was in my mouth’’
circummingo:   to make water around something. i.e. to piss around
subito: immediately
iocari: to make jokes, jest
mentior: to cheat (depending on tanti facio)
patrimonium: inheritance
ut mentiar, nullius patrimonium tanti facio =  `for no money in the world I would lie’  ululo: howl
primitus: aanvankelijk
accedo accessi accessum: to approach
lapideus: made of stone
Qui mori timore nisi ego? Who died more out of fear, than I? (mori historic infinitive)
gladium stringo - strinxi – strictum: to draw the sword
caedo –cecidi – caesus:  to strike down
in larvam = ut larva ( larva: ghost, spectre)
ebullio animam: to give up the ghost 
sudor: sweat
bifurcum: fork  i.e.  my two legs
volo: to fly
reficio: to recover
sero: late
saltem: at least
adiutasses = adiutavasses (adiuto: to help)
omnia pecora tanquam lanius sanguinem illis misit: omnia pecora: acc. Melissa changes halfway the construction of the sentence as often happens in spoken language. The sentence should have been: omnibus pecoribus tanquam lanius sanguinem misit. Or after Omnia pecora a verb of movement has to be placed: He went to the cattle and slaughtered them like a butcher
pecus pecoris n,: cattle
lanius: butcher
sanguinem mitto:let bleed,  `slaughter.’
derisit: he made us not ridiculous
etiamsi: though
senius: an elderly person (another reading is servus)
lancea: lance
collum: neck
traico: throw
operio: close
amplius: further, more
luce clara abl.abs.
compilo: to plunder, rob
copo compilatus: apperantly an expression  `like robbed inn-keeper’
versipellis: `that changes his skin’, ’were-wolf
panem gustare: eat bread
occido: to kill
exopinisso: to think (exopinissent: fut.)
ego si mentior, genios vestros iratos habeam  `if I lie, your genii may be angry on me.’ (litt.”May I have your genii angry.)
: tutular deity, genius


Friday, 27 July 2012

Some Roman Epitaphs. Memento mori!

Whenever I see an old church, I walk around the graveyard, reading the inscriptions on the graves, provided they have not faded away through age. Often these inscriptions only contain names, dates and a quotation from the Bible. Sometimes they give a bit more information, but hardly anything interesting or personal. The Romans however were more informative on their tombs. When you walk over the Via Appia, many tombs are still standing there alongside the road, but in ancient times hundreds of not thousands must have stood there. But not only there, everywhere alongside public roads monuments were erected and not necessarely only for the rich.
The following epitaph was not found alongside the Via Appia, but  near the Tiber. For reasons unknown to me it has since long been lost, but fortunately during the Renaissance, Italian hunanists which their antiquarian interest copied every bit of Latin they could lay hands on and so this text has fortunately been preserved. It is one of the earliest specimens of writen Latin and for that reason it has served in many handbooks and courses Latin.  It is a poem and  metre is the iambic senarius, meaning that each line has 6 iambes, but if you read this metrically, you will see that  in the first line no iambe will be found.. Scansion of  Greek and Latin poetry and analyzing the metres has never been my favorite hobby…
B 52
Hospes, quod deico paullum est, asta ac pellege.
Heic est sepulcrum hau pulcrum pulcrai feminae.
Nomen parentes nominarunt Claudiam.
Suom mareitum corde deilexit souo.
Gnatos duos creauit. Horunc alterum
in terra linquit, alium sub terra locat.
Sermone lepido, tum autem incessu commodo.
Domum servavit. Lanam fecit. Dixi. Abei.
If this looks a bit weird to you, you are right. This epitaph is from about 140 B and  the Latin  was written, or rather engraved, as it was spoken. From a linguistic point of view such inscriptions are very helpful in reconstructing the spoken language: deicoheic and other words with ei in stead of i, show that these i’s were pronounced long. Paullum with double l,  probably the double l was pronounced like bella in modern Italian. Assimilation in asta and pellege and soum shows us why dominus is an o class declension. And if you are wondering what hau means, well, the d has been dropped before a consonant!  But enough philology for the moment!  What does it say? It starts with hospes `stranger’. As these monuments were erected at public ways, many strangers must have passed by.
quod deico paullum est, asta ac pellege. What I have to say is but little, stand still and read. As very often, the deceased speaks directly to the reader.
Heic est sepulcrum hau pulcrum pulcrai feminae. Here is the not at all beautiful grave of a beautiful woman.
Note that pulchrum was written pulcrum, so it had at that time not yet the aspirated ch and also note the inconsequent spelling of pulcrai feminae. There is a pun with the word pulcer: sepulcrum was in folketymology thought to mean `without beauty’, like securus `without care’ hence `secure’. Actually it is derived from sepelio `to bury’, which on its turn is from a root sep `venerate, care for’
Nomen parentes nominarunt Claudiam. My parents gave me the name Claudia.
Nomen nominarunt ( = nominaverunt) a figura etymologica.
Suom mareitum corde deilexit souo. She loved her husband with her heart.
Note the shift from the first person to the third. souo  is the ancient spelling suo. When a u had the accent, is was written ou.
Gnatos duos creauit. She bore two sons.
Horunc alterum in terra linquit, alium sub terra locat. Of those she left one behind on earth, the other she burried under the earth.
Sermone lepido, tum autem incessu commodo. She was a lady of charming talk and besides of graceful movement.
Domum servavit. Lanam fecit. Dixi. Abei. She served her household, she made wool. I have said. go
And with the last word the reader is admonished to continue his or her way.

When reading such a text, I want to know more about Claudia: How old was she? - probably still young, maybe not even 20. How did she look like? We will never know, but the words of the epitaph tell us that she was higly valued  and loved by her husband - likely the person who had the tomb built for Claudia.

Epitaphs are also very revealing about the way the Romans perceived death. The Romans were never  creative in religious matters and they had a gloomy outlook on death and afterlife.
On many epitaphs there is an almosat modern mood of resignation:

B 465, ll. 20-21
Re]s hominum sic sunt ut [cit]rea poma:
aut matur]a cadunt, aut [immatura] leguntur.

Human live is like lemons: either they fall when ripe or are picked unripe.
I am not a botanist, but apparently lemons must be picked before they are ripe
B 507
Tempera iam genitor lacrimis tuque, optima mater,
desine iam flere. poenam non sentio mortis;
poena fuit vita, requies mihi morte parata est.

Refrain from tears, father and you, beloved mother, stop crying. I do not feel the punishment of death, life was a punishment, in death rest is prepared for me.
I wonder what is meant by  `life was a punishment’. Is it the epitaph of  shortlived and always sick child? A handicapped child?
Another admonition to a mother:
B 823
Desine iam mater lacrimis renovare querellas,
namque dolor talis non tibi contigit uni.

Stop mother to renew your laments with tears, as you are not the only one  to whom such  grief befalls.
CIL 11.6243
Viator, viator!
Quod tu es, ego fui; quod nunc sum, et tu eris

Traveller, traveller, what you are, I have been, what I am now, you will be
It is tempting to continue translating such epitaph when going through
Well, a final one, which I would like to have on my grave:
CIL 6.15258
Balnea vina Venus corrumpunt corpora nostra,
set vitam faciunt b(alnea) v(ina) V(enus).

Bathhouses, wine and Love ruin our bodies,
but bathhouses, wine and Love make life!

And with this last epitaph we will leave the deceased to their rest for the time being.

Appian Way: remains of Roman tombs
A tomb alongside the Via Appia.
For some background on Roman burial custums:

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Martial, Liber Speculatorum VII. A gruesome scene at the arena.

In this poem Martial describes the performance of a mimus in the amphitheatre.  A mimus is a kind of play with often comic situations especially in the genre of the deceived spouse, lets say the Roman equivalent of the soap  They were widely popular and had a hugh audience, but due to its unliterary character not a single mimus has survived.  The mimus Martial was watching was about Laureolus, a famous criminal, who was executed at the and of the play. An actor played the role of Laureolus and the execurion wasn’t real, but emperor Domitian deceided that real criminals could be used to make the mimus as realistic as possible. This much to the delight of the audience….

1       Qualiter in Scythica religatus rupe Prometheus
            adsiduam nimio pectore pavit avem,
          nuda Caledonio sic viscera praebuit urso
            non falsa pendens in cruce Laureolus.
5       Vivebant laceri membris stillantibus artus
            inque omni nusquam corpore corpus erat.
          Denique supplicium dignum tulit: ille parentis
            vel domini iugulum foderat ense nocens,
          templa vel arcano demens spoliaverat auro,
10       subdiderat saevas vel tibi, Roma, faces.
          Vicerat antiquae sceleratus crimina famae,
            in quo, quae fuerat fabula, poena fuit.

1-3 qualiterY.sic: like….so
Scythica rupe: according to Greek mythology Prometheus was chained to a rock in the Caucasus. Because the Scyths were als from that area, Martial calls it the Scythic rock.
religo (I): bind
rupes, rupis: rock
2 assiduus:  incessant, Every night an eagle came to pick Prometheus’ liver away, which recovered during daytime
paveo, pavi (II): to fear
nimius: immoderate (as Prometheus had stolen fire from the gods)
3 Caledonius: De Caledoniërs waren een stam in Schotland. Caledonius
staat hier voor `erg wild=
The Caledonians were a tribe in Scotland who had the reputation of being very fierce, hence  Calidonius `very fierce
viscera, um: íntestines, like in English plurale tantum in classical Latin
praebeo + dat:  to offer
4 non falsa:  falsa with cruce. Contrary to the mythical part of the comparison this is real.
5 `The lacerated limbs were trying to live (imperfectum de conatu!) while dripping blood’  artus and membrum are almost synonyms, The translation `The lacerated limbs were trying to live while the members were dripping blood’ is of course awkward.
6.  `and in the whole body there was nowhere a body (to be recognized).’ Don’t try to imagine this…
7. denique:  at last
supplicium : punishment
8 iugulum: throat
fodio fossi fossum (III) :  to peirce
ensis, ensis: two-edged sword
noceo (II):  to hurt
9 arcano auro:  ablativus seperativus `of their secret gold’  Often gold was deposited in temples as it was supposed to be more save there.
demens: `zonder verstand= dwaas
spolio (I):  strip, plunder
10 subdo . -didi, -ditum (III):  to put under
fax, facis: torch. As Rome had a lot of wooden constructions it was constantly liable to fire
vinco vici victum (III): defeat
sceleratus: criminal
11-12 `The criminal had defeated the crimes of the ancient story in which was a punishment, which was phantasy’ (i.e. the punishment of the stand in Laureolus was worse than that of Prometheus,)

Scene of a criminal offered to a wild animal.