Thursday, 17 January 2013

The last will of piglet Oinky

There are many Latin texts, but hardly anything has survived from what common men liked to read, the non-literary texts, say the DaVinci code or Fifty shades of grey of antiquity. In this respect the Testamentum porcelli is a valuable text. It is a parody on a last will: a piglet, Oinky, hears that he will be slaughtered and makes up his testament.
We know nothing about the author of this text, neither its place of composition and date, but in rwo of his letters St. Jerome bitterly complains that schoolboys rather like to read this than the Timaeus of Plato. St. Jerome is famous for many things, but not for his sense of humour and easy going lifestyle. Due these references, this text must have been written around 350-380.
The text is taken from, with a few changes. For the commentary I have used N.A. Bott, Testamentum Porcelli, Text, Übersetzung und Kommentar  (Zürich, 1975)


Incipit testamentum porcelli: M. Grunnius Corocotta porcellus testamentum fecit. Quoniam manu mea scribere non potui, scribendum dictavi.

Grunnius: Oinky
porcellus: little pig
quoniam: because

Magirus cocus dixit: "veni huc, eversor domi, solivertiator, fugitive porcelle, et hodie tibi dirimo vitam". Corocotta porcellus dixit: "si qua feci, si qua peccavi, si qua vascella pedibus meis confregi, rogo, domine cocu, vitam peto, concede roganti". Magirus cocus dixit: "transi, puer, affer mihi de cocina cultrum, ut hunc porcellum faciam cruentum". Porcellus comprehenditur a famulis, ductus sub die XVI Kal. Lucerninas, ubi abundant cymae, Clibanato et Piperato consulibus. Et ut vidit se moriturum esse, horae spatium petiit et cocum rogavit, ut testamentum facere posset. Clamavit ad se suos parentes, ut de cibariis suis aliquid dimittere eis. Qui ait:

Magirus: mister Butcher
cocus: cook
eversor: destroyer
solivertiator: one who is turning over the soil
dirimo -remi –remptus: cut off
vascellum: small vase
confrango –fregi –fractum: to break
rogo: to ask
transeo: to go (vulgar Latin)
cocina: kitchen
cultrum: knive
cruentus: stained with blood
comprehendo - si  -sum: to seize
famulus: slave
sub die XVI Kal. Lucerninas: The 16th day before the Calends of the month of the lights. This is a fictive month, but probably somewhere during winter
cyma: cabbage
Clibanato et Piperato consulibus: under the consulship of Baked (clibanus: oven pan) and Peppered
cibaria: food
qui = ille

Patri meo Verrino Lardino do lego dari glandis modios XXX, et matri meae Veturinae Scrofae do lego dari Laconicae siliginis modios XL, et sorori meae Quirinae, in cuius votum interesse non potui, do lego dari hordei modios XXX. Et de meis visceribus dabo donabo sutoribus saetas, rixatoribus capitinas, surdis auriculas, causidicis et verbosis linguam, bubulariis intestina, esiciariis femora, mulieribus lumbulos, pueris vesicam, puellis caudam, cinaedis musculos, cursoribus et venatoribus talos, latronibus ungulas.

Verrino Lardino: Swinish Bacon
do lego dari: juridical expression: I give and bequeath
Quaerina: maybe from quirito: `to wail’
modius: Roman corn measure
glans, glandis (f): acorn
Veturinae Scrofae: Old Breeding Sow
siligo, inis (f): fine wheaten flour
votum: wedding
intersum: to attend
hordeum: barley 
viscera, um (n): intestines, but here more general: the parts of the body
dabo donabo: again a solemn repetition of two words meaning the same
sutor, -oris: shoe maker 
saeta: bristle (bristles were used for making shoes. The technical explanation in the commentary by Bott is above my comprehension)
rixator: quarrelsome person
capitinas: meaning completely unknown, maybe something with the head (caput)
surdus: deaf
auricula: ear
causidicus: lawyer
bubolarius: probably: sausage-maker
esicarius: from isicia or esicia: sausage meat, grounded pork, so a person who makes and sells sausages
femur, i (n): ham
lumbulus: deminuitive  of lumbus: `lion’, but also genital organ, so lumbulus `little willy’
vesica: bladder (to blow up and play with)
cauda: tail, penis. Of course `tail’ is meant but the other meaning resounds too.
cinaedus: `He who practises unnatural lust, a sodomite, catamite’ so the Liddle-Scott dictionary, we say now `homosexual’.  
musculos: because cinaedi were seen as weak persons.
cursor, -is: messenger
venator, -is: hunter
talus: ankle
latro -onis: robber
ungula: nail

Et nec nominando coco legato dimitto popiam et pistillum, quae mecum attuleram; de Theveste usque ad Tergeste liget sibi colum de reste. Et volo mihi fieri monumentum ex litteris aureis scriptum: "M.GRUNNIUS COROCOTTA PORCELLUS VIXIT ANNIS DCCCC.XC.VIIII.S(EMIS). QUODSI SEMIS VIXISSET, MILLE ANNOS IMPLESSET". Optimi amatores mei vel consules vitae, rogo vos ut cum corpore meo bene faciatis, bene condiatis de boni condimentis nuclei, piperis et mellis, ut nomen meum in sempiternum nominetur. Mei domini vel consobrini mei, qui testamento meo interfuistis, iubete signari".

nec nominando: whose name is not to be mentioned
legato dimitto: again the solemn use of two words meaning the same: I leave and leave behind
popiam et pistillum: popia `ladle’ is a very rare word, a pistillum is a pestle. But why should ourlittle pig leave something for the cook, who after all will slaughter him? And why should the cook hang it around his neck (see next sentence)? Bott thinks that as these items resemble a penis and a scrotum, our Oinky wants to depict the cook as an obscene person.
affero attulli allatum: to bring, carry
de Theveste usque ad Tergeste liget sibi colum de reste: note the rhyme –este. This text put a colon after atulleram, but the translation below after Tergeste. I think our text is right because of the rhyme.
Theveste: city in Numidia
Tergeste: Triest
ligo (1): to
restis –is (f): rope
vivo vixi: to live
ANNIS DCCCC.XC.VIIII.S(EMIS: 999 years and a half
semis (indeclinable): half (a year)
impleo: to make full
consules vitae: consuls of my life, i.e., those who took care of my life
cum corpore meo: unclassical Latin. As for the whole sentence: it was usual in a testament to ask for a good treatment of the body.
condio –ivi –itum: to spice
condimentum: spice
nucleus: kernel
mel, mellis (n): honey
consubrinus: first cousin
iubeo iussi iussum: to bid, command

Lario signavit. Ofellicus signavit. Cyminatus signavit. Lucanicus signavit. Tergillus signavit. Celsinus signavit. Nuptialicus signavit. Explicit testamentum porcelli sub die XVI Kal. Lucerninas Clibanato et Piperato consulibus feliciter.

Signatures of Bacon, Meatball, Rye-stew, Lucanian (sausage), Crackling,
Celsinus, and Wedding-bash. (translation Jean-Jacques Aubert)

Translation and study

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