Saturday, 29 September 2012

Potatores exquisiti! You students, join the party and get drunk!

When looking through the book Mediaeval Latin by K.P. Harrington, published in 1950, I saw this poem, listed as Carmina Burana 179.  Strange enough it does not correspond with my edition of the Carmina Burana, a bilingual Latin-German edition. However, poem 202 in this edition is very much the same, but with more strophes and some textual variations, for instance the first line `O potores exquisiti’. Strange, are there two different editions? Anyway, this song is one of the many songs sung by students and scholars going from university to university all over Europe. They were called vagabundi  `the roamers’ form Latin vago. And wherever there are students, there are parties, where sometimes a little bit more is consumed than the WHO would advise.
This lighthearted song takes up that theme:

Potatores exquisiti,
licet sitis sine siti,
et bibatis expediti
et scyphorum inobliti,
scyphi crebro repetiti
non dormiant,
et sermones inauditi

Potatores exquisiti: vocative
potator: drinker,  toper, boozer
exquisitus:  excellent, exquisite
sitis: thirst
bibo (3): to drink
expeditus: free, unimpeded (Latin can use an adjective where English requires an adverb)
scyphus: cup
inoblitus + gen: not forgetting
crebro (adv): repetedly, often
repeto (3) : to demand anew, retake
inauditus: unheard of. i.e. talks which are not heard when people are sober
prosilio: to spring up, break forth

Qui potare non potestis
ite procul ab his festis,
non est locus hic modestis
Inter letos mos agrestis
et est sue certus testis

procul (adv): far away
modestis: substantized adjective
laetus: gay
mos agrestis modestie: agrestis is predicate to mos: `the way of modesty is’ or in better English: `modest behavior  is’.
agrestis: litt: `pertaining to the land’. In the Lewis and Short dictionary you will find `wild, coarse, boorish, clownish’ etc.. Classical Latin was the Latin of the urbane upper class…  here `clownish, ridiculous, stupid’ fits the context.
ignavia: laziness, worthlessness

Si quis latitat hic forte,
qui non curat vinum forte
ostendantur illi porte,
exeat ab hac cohorte:
plus est nobis gravis morte,
si maneat,
si recedat a consorte,
tunc pereat.

latito  (1): to hide (frequentative of lateo.  A frequentative is a verb that denotes that an action often takes place)
forte is used twice, but in with a different meaning and actually from different  roots. The first is an adverb from fors (gen. fortis) `chance’ (cf. fortuna), so `by chance, perhaps’, the second forte is from fortis `strong’ and goes with vinum.
curo: to take care for
ostendo (1): to show.  ostendantur  the plural is general: who ever… they are shown the way out!
cohors, -ortis: company
plus est nobis gravis morte = (ille) est nobis plus gravis morte. (plus gravis morte = gravior quam mors)
recedo (3): to go away
consors,  -ortis: company, group (meant is the company of potatores exquisiti)
pereo = per-eo: to go down, perish

Cum contingat te prestare,
ita bibas absque pare,
ut non possis pede stare,
neque recta verba dare,
sed sit tibi salutare
semper vas evacuare
quam maximum.

contingo (3): to happen
praesto (1): to stay
absque pare: and without `the mate’ (of wine: i.e. water)
verba do = dico, loquor
sit tibi salutare potissimum semper vas evacuare: may it be to you to greet always the biggest cup for emptying
quam maximum:   `as deep as possible’,  `to the bottom’.

Dea deo ne iungatur,
deam deus aspernatur,
nam qui Liber appellatur
libertate gloriatur,
virtus eius adnullatur
in poculis,
et vinum debilitatur
in copulis.

dea is pure water,  deus is wine
iungo (3): to join together, unite, marry
aspernor: to dispise
Normally wine was mixed with water, but this was something not done amongst vagabonds.
Liber: Roman god equated with Bacchus/Dionysus, the god of wine, but also a pun on liber `free’ as the next line shows.
virtus eius: the virtue of the goddess
adnullo (1): (Eccl. Latin) to cancel, annihilate
debilito (1): to crush
in copulis i.e. in the wedding of wine and water

Cum regina sit in mari,
dea potest appellari,
sed indigna tanto pari,
quem presumat osculari,
nunquam Bacchus adaquari
se voluit,
nec se Liber baptizari

cum: as long as
indigna tanto pari: not worthy for such a match (Liber)
praesumo (3): to expect, presume (subject: dea)
osculor (1): to kiss
adaquor (1): to fetch water
sustineo (2): to endure

Here is a (rather free) translation by HelenWaddell from her Mediaeval Latin Lyrics, published in 1929:

To you, consummate drinkers,
Though little be your drought,
Good speed be to your tankards,
And send the wine about.
Let not the full decanter
Sleep on its round,
And may unheard of banter
In wit abound.

If any cannot carry
His liquor as he should,
Let him no longer tarry,
No place here for the prude.
No room among the happy
For modesty.
A fashion only fit for clowns,

If such by chance are lurking
Let them be shown the door;
He who good wine is shirking,
Is one of us no more.
A death's head is his face to us,
If he abide.
Who cannot keep the pace with us,
As well he died.

Should any take upon him
To drink without a peer,
Although his legs go from him,
His speech no longer clear,
Still for his reputation
Let him drink on,
And swig for his salvation
The bumper down.

But between god and goddess,
Let there no marriage be,
For he whose name is Liber
Exults in liberty.
Let none his single virtue
Wine that is wed with water is

Queen of the sea we grant her,
Goddess without demur,
But to be bride to Bacchus
Is not for such as her.
For Bacchus drinking water
Hath no man seen;
Nor ever hath his godship
Baptized been.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Paulus Diaconus, Historia Longobardorum 1.4: the miracle of the seven sleepers

During the great migrations of the 4th-6th century, the Roman empire, or rather what was left of it, was invaded by Germanic tribes. One of these tribes were the Longobards `long-beards’, who held from 568- 774 a kingdom at current Lombardy in Italy. Like all Gemanic tribes setling in the Roman Empire, they took over many aspects of the culture, including the language. As the Goths before them, they were already Christians when they crossed the borders, but from the Arian branch, not the Catholic.  The Longobards however converted to Catholicism. Their history was written down by the learned monk Paulus Diaconus (c.720 – c.799) in his Historia Longobardorum, a work written between 787 and 796. The work is very valuable as apart from its own merits, it makes use of sources now lost to us. Of course it is not a history in the modern sense and especially the first sections are more legendary than historical, though Paulus Diaconus was right in tracing the origin of the Longobards back to Scandinavia.
Very early in his history Paulus Diaconus makes a digression and tells about the miracle of the seven sleepers. The oldest sources are in Syrian and runs as follows: during persecution of the Christians under Emperor Decius around 250 AD, seven young men of Ephesus were ordered to give up their faith. They asked for some days to think about it and it was granted to them. However, they fled to a cave where they fell asleep. This was noticed by the emperor and seeing that they won’t give up their faith, he ordered the cave to be closed. Instead of dying from hunger and thirst, the seven men stay asleep. Under the reign of Theodosius II (409-450), when the Roman Empire was already converted to Christianity for some hundred years, the owner of the land decided to open the cave for using it as a cattle pen. The seven sleepers think they have only slept for one night and sent one of them to Ephesus for buying food, telling him to be careful. When this man enters Ephesus, he sees churches and crosses and the people of Ephesus are surprised that he uses old coins from the time of Decius. The local bishop interrogates the sleepers and realizes that God has performed a miracle. When the sleepers have finished their story, they die praising God.
This story gained wide popularity and several versions were told. It also found its way into the Quran (18.7-26), but there the fact that they were Christians  is kept out. In the West it was popularized by Gregory of Tours and our Paulus Diaconus . However, he puts it in a different context, not near Ephesus but far in the north of Scandinavia, where they are still sleeping. He tells that once awake, these men will preach the gospel to the barbarous tribes there.
In my opinion Paulus Diaconus adapted this miracle for missionary purposes. He wrote in a time when missionaries were trying to convert Germanic tribes to Christianity and he made up a pia fraus: the far North of Scandinavia is out of reach for normal missionaries, but God has already his miraculous  missionaries there….

Paulus Diaconus, Historia Longobardorum 1.4

(…..) In extremis circium versus Germaniae finibus, in ipso Oceani litore, antrum sub eminenti rupe conspicitur, ubi septem viri, incertum ex quo tempore, longo sopiti sopore quiescunt, ita inlaesis non solum corporibus, sed etiam vestimentis, ut ex hoc ipso, quod sine ulla per tot annorum curricula corruptione perdurant, apud indociles easdem et barbaras nationes veneratione habeantur. Hi denique, quantum ad habitum spectat, Romani esse cernuntur. E quibus dum unum quidam cupiditate stimulatus vellet exuere, mox eius, ut dicitur, brachia aruerunt, poenaque sua ceteros perterruit, ne quis eos ulterius contingere auderet. Videris, ad quod eos profectum per tot tempora providentia divina conservet. Fortasse horum quandoque, quia non aliter nisi Christiani esse putantur, gentes illae praedicatione salvandae sunt.

circium: a west-northwest wind, the west-northwest
versus: (prep + acc.) facing
litus, -oris: coast
antrum: cave
eminens, -entis: standing out, hanging over
rupes:  rock
sopitus: sleeping
sopor, -oris: sleep
longo sopiti  sopore: one would expect an accusative (the acc. respectus/Graecus) and one certainly has to translate it that way, but Paulus uses an instrumental ablative.
inlaesus: unharmed
vestimentum: clothing
inlaesis corporibus…vestimentis:  abl.abs
ex hoc ipso: from this very fact
sine ulla….. corruptione
curriculum: course
perduro: abide, continue
indocilis: unlearned, stupid
veneratione habeantur: they are held in veneration amongst (apud)
quantum ad habitum spectat: as far as one looks ad their dress =  as far as regarding their dress
cernentur = videntur: were seen, considered
dum = cum: in later Latin dum can be used instead of cum, where it has the meaning `when’.
exuo: to strip off (i.e. the clothes)
mox: soon
brachium: arm
aruescoarui: to become dry, wither
poena:  punishment
ulterius: further more
contingo: to touch
audeo: to dare
videris = videbis: the futurum exactum (`you will have seen’) seems a bit odd here.
ad quod profectum  = ad quem profectum: slips in gender are common in later Latin, especially with words of which the nominative is hardly used.
profectus: purpose
fortasse: perhaps
quandoque: at some time
puto; to consider
horum gentes praedicatione salvandae: tribes will be saved by their preaching

(Scroll down to I.4. I have skipped the first sentence.)