Friday, 28 June 2013

Eugippius: How Severinus saves the bodies of some soldiers.

Severinus of Noricum (c. 410 – 8 January 482) lived, as his name already suggests, at Noricum, a Roman province covering parts of modern Austria and Slovenia, which had the Danube as northern boundary.  He was originally not from Noricum, but came there in order to preach. He also established what we would now call refugee camps for the population which had to flee because of the constant fighting at that area, as Huns and later Germanic tribes crossed the Danube. He soon got influence and respect and founded various congregations. After his death a Vita Sancti Severini was written by Eugippius. It is however far from sure whether Eugippius had known Severinus personally. Though this vita is mainly concerned with the miracles of Severinus, it provides also information about the situation at the Danube during that time. In the following passage it is revealed to Severinus that bodies of slaughtered Roman soldiers are floating in a river. He orders some bystanders to hurry to the river in order to collect the bodies for a proper burial.

Eugippius, Vita Sancti Severini, caput XX

XX. Quomodo ei militum fuerit interfectio revelata, propter quorum corpora sepelienda suos ignorantes direxit ad fluvium.

Per idem tempus, quo Romanum constabat imperium, multorum milites oppidorum pro custodia limitis publicis stipendiis alebantur. Qua consuetudine desinente simul militares turmae sunt deletae cum limite, Batavino utcumque numero perdurante. Ex quo perrexerant quidam ad Italiam extremum stipendium commilitonibus allaturi, quos in itinere peremptos a barbaris nullus agnoverat. Quadam ergo die, dum in sua cellula sanctus legeret Severinus, subito clauso codice cum magno coepit lacrimare suspirio. Astantes iubet ad fluvium properanter excurrere, quem in illa hora humano firmabat cruore respergi, statimque nuntiatum est corpora praefatorum militum fluminis impetu ad terram fuisse delata.

interfectio –onis (f.): slaughter
sepelio sepelivi sepultum: to burry
consto: to exist (Eugippius wrote at a time when Rome had fallen to the Goths.)
pro custodia limitis: for defence of the limes (The Danube alone was not enough for a defence as in wintertime the frozen Danube was easily crossed by invading tribes.)
publicis stipendiis alebantur: were paid with public money (When this ceased – see the next line – soldiers had no reason to stay there. It must be kept in mind that the Roman army at that time mainly depended on mercenaries, often themselves Germanics.)
Qua consuetudine desinente: when this custom ceased (The Roman economy had virtually collapsed!)
turma: troop (of 30 horsemen), squadron
deleta: not destroyed, but disintegrate, cease to exist
utcumque: however
Batavino numero: the Batavian squadron (numerus is a Late Latin word for squadron. As the name indicates, this squadron consisted of Germanic military. As these troops were assigned to a certain place to defend, it also denotes the place at the limes.)
perduro: endure, hold on
pergo perrexi perrectum: to pursue with energy, be on their way
extremum stipendium commilitonibus allaturi: to fetch the latest salary for their fellow soldiers (Probably they had not been paid for months.)
perimo peremi peremptum: to destroy, kill
cellula: cell for a monk
subito: suddenly
suspirium: deep breath
properanter: hastily
quem in illa hora humano firmabat cruore respergi: which (river) he declared at that moment to be besprinkled  with human blood
praefatus: mentioned before


About Severinus:

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Propertius 2,29b: Checking on Cynthia.

I am a fan of youtube, not for the silly home videos, but for classical music and the unexpected things you can find. When looking for information about Propertius and Cynthia I found this link:
I was immediately fascinated and decided to delve into this poem.
Early in the morning Propertius goes to his mistress Cynthia as he suspects that she is not faithful. Cynthia immediately feels why he is there and indignant she is telling him what she thinks of him and that there is not a single sign of another man having slept with her that night. Her speech convinces me, but not Max Rothstein, who in his edition with commentary published in 1898 says:
Der Eifer, mit dem Cynthia sich verteidigt, ist gerade geeignet die Berechtigung des Verdachtes erkennen zu lassen, und der Beweis ihrer Unschuld ist durchaus nicht zwingend. Es war leicht die Spuren zum Zweck einer Täuschung zu verwischen. (The eagerness with which Cynthia is defending herself, is rather fitting to support the rightness of the suspicion, and the prove of her innocence is not at all coercive. It was easy to do away with the vestiges in order to cheat.)
I think this tells more about Rothstein, then about Cynthia…
At the end of the poem Propertius realises that by this very action Cynthia has turned away from him.

Book 2, poem XXIXb

MANE erat, et volui, si sola quiesceret illa,
    visere: at in lecto Cynthia sola fuit.
obstipui: non illa mihi formosior umquam
    visa, neque ostrina cum fuit in tunica
ibat et hinc castae narratum somnia Vestae,
    neu sibi neve mihi quae nocitura forent:
talis visa mihi somno dimissa recenti.
    heu quantum per se candida forma valet!
'Quid tu matutinus,' ait 'speculator amicae,
    me similem vestris moribus esse putas?
non ego tam facilis: sat erit mihi cognitus unus,
    vel tu vel si quis verior esse potest.
apparent non ulla toro vestigia presso,
    signa volutantis nec iacuisse duos.
aspice ut in toto nullus mihi corpore surgat
    spiritus admisso notus adulterio.'
dixit, et opposita propellens savia dextra
    prosilit in laxa nixa pedem solea.
sic ego tam sancti custos deludor amoris:
    ex illo felix nox mihi nulla fuit.

quiesco, quievi, quietum: to rest
viso visi visum: to go and see
at: apparently Propertius expected otherwise!
obstipesco  obstipui: to be astonished
hinc: from here
visa: from video!
neque = ne quidem: not even
ostrinus: purple
hinc castae narratum somnia Vestae: Cynthia had worrying dreams about her and Propertius and had been to the temple of Vesta at the Forum Romanum.
Vesta:  goddess of the hearth and household. As goddess of the Roman family she was of course casta (chaste). Within the context of this poem this word is significant, as Propertius thinks Cynthia is not.       
narratum: supine!
noceo nocui nocitum: to harm
talis visa mihi: in such a condition seen by me
somno dimissa recenti: dismissed from recent sleep  (Note how this line is in the passive, whereas the translation below had turned it into the active.)
heu quantum per se candida forma valet: O, how strong is splendid beauty in itself! (Cynthia has had no time yet to put make up on!)
matutinus: early
speculator – oris (m): spy
puto: to consider
facilis: easy to get, of loose morals
cognitus unus: to be known by one
verior: with this word Propertius is now put away as not her true lover.
torus: cushion
vestigium: trace
signa volutantis: signs of a person rolling over me
iaceo iacui iacitum: to lie down, sleep
spiritus, us (m): breath, trace
notus: actively used: betraying
opposita savia: `opposing kisses’ opposita has – I think – two meanings here: 1) opposing as trying to deny what Cynthia just said about Propertius not being faithful himself and b) in a spatial sense: his head is in front of here.
propello propuli propulsum: to push away
dextra (manu)
prosilio prosilui/prosilivi: jump up
nitor nixus sum: to lean, support
in laxa nixa pedem solea = nixa pedem in laxa solea
opposita propellens savia dextra / prosilit in laxa nixa pedem solea: these lines describe in a few words what is happening. Cynthia is still in her bed and Propertius is trying to kiss her, but she pushes back his face with her right hand, jumps off her bed, slides in her sandals without fastening them (in laxa nixa pedem solea: supporting her regarding her foot in a loose sandal) and (probably) hastes away.
sic ego tam sancti custos deludor amoris: so I was deluded as a guardian of such a sacred love.
deludor: another reading is excludor. I am not a specialist on the manuscripts of Propertius, but somehow I think the reading excludor is more satisfying.

It was dawn; I wanted to see if she slept alone: and alone she was there, in her bed. I was stunned: she’d never looked lovelier to me, not even when she went, in her purple shift, and told her dreams to virginal Vesta, lest they threatened harm to her or me. So she looked to me, shedding recent sleep. Oh, how great is the power of beauty in itself! ‘Why,’ she said: ‘you’re an early spy on your mistress, do you think my morals then are yours? I’m not so easy: it’s enough for me, one man, either you, or someone who’ll be truer. There are no traces deep in the bed, signs of writhing about, or mutual slumber. Look, no breath panting from my whole body, confessing to some adultery.’ Speaking, she pushed my face away with her hand, and leapt up, loosened sandals on her feet. Thus I ceased my spying on such chaste love: since then I’ve had not one happy night.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Waltharius 358-379: a morning after delusion...

With some friends we are still reading Das Nibelungenlied, a long term project which will be finished beginning next year. To be honest, it is not just for the text, but also for good company that we come almost weekly together. The history of Germanic heroic poetry is very complicated. Its background is the early period of the great migration from 400-800. Especially the invasion of the Huns under Atilla must have made a great impression as he and his court turn up in almost every Germanic epic. Of course this Attila (Etzel in Das Nibelungenlied and Atli in Old Norse) has but little to do with the historical Attila.  With the exception of the Beowulf, these lays were not written down before 1200 in the various Germanic vernaculars. This means that the heroic epics of the Goths have not come down to us, as the Goths were already extinct for centuries. The long period between the time of origin and writing down also means that in oral transmission a lot of material must have been reworked and rearranged or simply lost. In Das Nibelungenlied a certain Walther is mentioned twice. This minor figure has however his own heroic song in the Waltharius, a Latin epic from the 9th or10th century – and in the Old English Waldere, but from this poem only two fragments have survived. The Waltharius is written in hexameters and the author clearly displays a good knowledge of Latin epic poetry. It is not quite certain who this author is but it is generally attributed to Ekkehard I, a monk from St Gall who died in 973. The Waltharius clearly displays in content the example (Vorlage in good German) of a Germanic heroic song. Walter, Hildegund and Hagen came in their childhood to the court of Atilla as hostages in order to secure the treatise Atilla had made with their respective fathers, all kings of various Germanic tribes. They are well treated and Walther and Hagen serve as young man as commanders (duces) of Attila’s troops. The girl Hildegund is treated with great reverence and is the personal servant of queen Ospirin. She also has the task of taking care of the treasures of Atilla. But all long for their homeland and Hagen is the first to flee. Walther and Hildegund fall in love and decide to flee too. In order to make an escape possible, Walther gives a big party in which everyone is made drunk. Deep in the night they escape and the following day their disappearance is discovered:

Ast urbis populus somno vinoque solutus
ad medium lucis siluit recubando sequentis.
Sed postquam surgunt, ductorem quique requirunt,               360
ut grates faciant ac festa laude salutent.
Attila nempe manu caput amplexatus utraque
egreditur thalamo rex Walthariumque dolendo
advocat, ut proprium quereretur forte dolorem.
Respondent ipsi se non potuisse ministri               365
invenisse virum, sed princeps sperat eundem
hactenus in somno tentum recubare quietum
occultumque locum sibi delegisse sopori.
Ospirin Hiltgundem postquam cognovit abesse
nec iuxta morem vestes deferre suetum,               370
tristior immensis satrapae clamoribus inquit:
«O detestandas, quas heri sumpsimus, escas!
O vinum, quod Pannonias destruxerat omnes!
Quod domino regi iam dudum praescia dixi,
approbat iste dies, quem nos superare nequimus.               375
En hodie imperii vestri cecidisse columna
noscitur, en robur procul ivit et inclita virtus:
Waltharius, lux Pannoniae, discesserat inde,
Hiltgundem quoque mi caram deduxit alumnam.»

ast = at
somno vinoque solutus: overwhelmed by sleep and wine
ad medium lucis sequentis: till the mid of the following day
sileo silui: to be silent
recubando = recubans the ablative of the gerund is used as a present participle In mediaeval Latin
recubo: to lie down
ductorem quique requirunt = et ii ductorem requirunt
ductorem: Walther
requiro requisivi requisitum: to look for
grates (f pl. only in nom., acc. and abl. pl.): thanks
nempe: of course
manu caput amplexatus utraque: holding his head with two hands (the morning after condition!)
thalamus: bedroom
dolendo = dolens (in this case from a terrific headache…)
queror questus: to complain
forte: by chance
hactenus: thus far
tentum recubare quietum: stretched out (tentum) to lie down at rest
occultus: hidden
deligo delegi delectum: to choose, pick out
sopor -oris (m): sleep
iuxta morem suetum: according to the usual custom
satrapa (m) ruler, king (a Persian loanword)
esca: meal
heri: yesterday (from an older hesi, related to English yester- day)
Pannonias omnes: all of Pannonia (Pannonia, current Hungary, was the centre of Attila’s empire)
iam dudum: long ago
praescius: knowing before (Ospirin had warned Atilla that Walther and Hildegunt would flee)
approbo: to prove, demonstrate
quem nos superare nequimus: which we cannot survive (probably she refers to the downfall of the empire of Attila by Walther, but this theme is not treated in the Waltharius and no other sources are known.)
En hodie imperii vestri cecidisse columna noscitur: behold, today the pillar of your empire is known to have fallen
en robur procul ivit et inclita virtus: behold, the strength and famous virtue (Walther) has gone far away
discedo cessi cessum: to leave, dessert
inde: from here
alumna: foster-daughter

There is unfortunately no English translation on internet.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Paulus Diaconus: on the danger of the river Maritsa.

Paulus Diaconus (c. 720s – 13 April probably 799) is not only known for his Historia Longobardorum, but he is also the writer of several poems. In the following short poem he describes a small tragedy: a Thracian boy plays in wintertime on the river Hebrus, the modern river Maritsa, which runs through the Balkans. The ice breaks, the boy is dragged away by the fast running river under the ice, but his head his cut off by the broken ice. His mother finds the head, cremates it and puts the ashes in an urn. The last sentence of the poem alludes to the alleged laconic mentality of the Thracians in classical sources. For good order: the Thracians were already for centuries extinct when Paulus Diaconus wrote this poem. Anyway, let this poem be a warning: don’t let you children play on the Maritsa when frozen!

De puero, qui in glacie extinctus est

    Trax puer adstricto glacie dum ludit in Hebro,
          Frigore concretas pondere rupit aquas.
    Dumque imae partes rapido traherentur ab amni,
          Praesecuit tenerum lubrica testa caput.
    Orba quod inventum mater dum conderet urna,
          «Hoc peperi flammis, cetera», dixit, «aquis».

Trax: Thracian
ludo lusi lusum: to play
adstricto glacie: when the ice was hard
pondus –eris (n): weight
rumpo rupi ruptum: to break
imae partes: the lower parts of his body
praeseco –secui –sectum: to cut off
lubricus: slippery

testa: a testa is a piece of broken earthen-ware, but here of course (broken) ice on water. For this image cf. Ovid Tristia 3.10.37-8: Vidimus ingentem glacie consistere pontum, /   lubricaque inmotas testa premebat aquas.
orbus: bereft
condo condidi conditum: to hide, put away
quod: referring back to caput
pario peperi partum: to give birth