Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The first attempt of the Vikings...

The earliest record of the Vikings raiding successfully the shores of Europe is from the 790s, but already at the beginning of the 6th century there was a raid on the coast of the Frankish empire by the Danes under Chlochilaichus.  In a short chapter this event is related by Gregory of Tours in his treatment of the reign of king Theuderic  (born between 482 -84  - 533). What Gregory could not know is that Chlochilaichus (or better Chochilaicus) became a character in the Old-English epic Beowulf, under the name Hygelac, king of the Geats..The death of Chlochilaichus has been put between 516 and 522. Let us count: Chlochilaichus was slain by Theudebert I, son of Theuderic. The birth of Theudebert is put at 500, meaning that Theuderic was father around his 17th and that Theudebert was between 16 and 22 when he killed Chlochilaichus.  Modern social workers would frown upon such a family and indeed, according to modern standards the Merovingians  were a rather dysfunctional family, as Gregory has abundantly given proof of in his Historia Francorum . But may be one needs such rough characters to ward off the Vikings, at least they didn’t try for the next few centuries!

There is no translation in English of this passage available, but the Latin is not that difficult. It is however sometimes very ungrammatical, but that does not influence the understanding of the text. The Latin of Gregory is already tending to word order for the grammatical function of a word instead of its case.

Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum  Book III,3. Quod Dani Gallias appetierunt.

His ita gestis, Dani cum rege suo nomen Chlochilaichum evectu navale per mare Gallias appetunt. Egressique ad terras, pagum unum de regno Theudorici devastant atque captivant, oneratisque navibus tam de captivis quam de reliquis spoliis, reverti ad patriam cupiunt; sed rex eorum in litus resedebat, donec navis alto mare conpraehenderent, ipse deinceps secuturus. Quod cum Theudorico nuntiatum fuisset, quod scilicet regio eius fuerit ab extraneis devastata, Theudobertum, filium suum, in illis partibus cum valido exercitu ac magno armorum apparatu direxit. Qui, interfectu rege, hostibus navali proelio superatis oppraemit omnemque rapinam terrae restituit.

appeto  appetii (appetivi) appetivum: to assault, attack
His ita gestis: refers to the previous chapter about the short episcopate of Quintianus.
evectu navale: `with a fleet’
pagus: province
de regno: in vulgair Latin de and ex were used instead of a genitive. One doesn’t need to be a great philologist to see now where the French de comes from.
onero: to load (from onus oneris (n): load, burden. As a rule the a-conjugation is derived from nouns, but supero (below) from the preposition super.)
spolium: booty
litus litoris (n):  shore, beach
alto mare: on high sea
comprehendo –hendi –hensum: here  `to reach’  (note the hypercorrect spelling conpraehenderent.)
ipse deinceps secuturus: he would follow after
scilitet: for sure, indeed
extraneus: foreigner
in illis partibus: Gregory was often far from correct in using the right cases, of course he should have used the accusative!)
hostibus navali proelio superatis oppraemit (=opprimit): loose syntax or rather a contamination of two constructions: either hostes navali proelia superatos oppraemit, in which case superatos is a resultative adjective (`so that they were defeated’) or oppraemit is redundant, and the clause is an abl. abs., which I think is the case. I my experience such texts can best be understood with an English (or in my case Dutch) syntax in mind.
navale proelium: naval battle
supero: to subdue, defeat

Friday, 23 August 2013

Ovid, Amores 1.3: Ovid in praise of himself.

Coming school year (it starts on Monday) I will read parts of the Metamorphoses with a pupil as this is the exam literature for 2014. It is always a pleasure to read Ovid for his playful and light-hearted poetry. Of course the Tristia  and Epistulae ex Ponto are different – unless Ovid has deceived us all with his exile to the Black Sea. The Amores is Ovid’s first published poetry and is address to an upper-class married woman, Corinna, who was well above Ovid’s own background. Ovid was in his early twenties when he wrote the Amores and Corinna – not her real name – might even have been in her late teens. Saying this I don’t imply that Ovid had a real affair: it is very possible that Corinna only existed within the framework of the Amores. 
In poem 3 of book one Ovid praises his character, chaste behaviour and fides `loyalty’. Ovid hopes that Corinna will answer his love and so be a source of inspiration for his poems. He ends with three mythological examples of women whose names are immortalized in poetry: Io, Leda and Europa. But wait a moment:  all three were hunted after by Zeus, the great adulter! So what fides?

Ovid, Amores 1.3

Iusta precor: quae me nuper praedata puella est,
    aut amet aut faciat, cur ego semper amem!
a, nimium volui—tantum patiatur amari;
    audierit nostras tot Cytherea preces!
Accipe, per longos tibi qui deserviat annos;               5
    accipe, qui pura norit amare fide!
si me non veterum commendant magna parentum
    nomina, si nostri sanguinis auctor eques,
nec meus innumeris renovatur campus aratris,
    temperat et sumptus parcus uterque parens—               10
at Phoebus comitesque novem vitisque repertor
    hac faciunt, et me qui tibi donat, Amor,
et nulli cessura fides, sine crimine mores
    nudaque simplicitas purpureusque pudor.
non mihi mille placent, non sum desultor amoris:               15
    tu mihi, siqua fides, cura perennis eris.
tecum, quos dederint annos mihi fila sororum,
    vivere contingat teque dolente mori!
te mihi materiem felicem in carmina praebe:
    provenient causa carmina digna sua.               20
carmine nomen habent exterrita cornibus Io
    et quam fluminea lusit adulter ave,
quaeque super pontum simulato vecta iuvenco
    virginea tenuit cornua vara manu.
nos quoque per totum pariter cantabimur orbem,               25
    iunctaque semper erunt nomina nostra tuis.

iusta precor: I pray for justice
praedor praedatus sum: to make booty
nimium: too much
audierit: probably subjunctive and not fut. ex.
Cytherea = Venus
deservio: to serve
norit = noverit (from nosco)
nostri sanguinis auctor: the founder of our family
aratrum: plough
temperat et sumptus parcus uterque parens: and both my thrifty parents restrained their expenses
comitesque novem: the nine companions are the Muses
vitisque repertor: the discoverer of vine is Bacchus
hac faciunt = hac ex parte mea faciunt: act on this, my side
cedo cessi cessum: give way to
fides, mores, simplicitas and pudor: all to be understood with my (really, Ovid?)
desultor: a desultor was a circus-rider who jumped from one horse to another, so a desultor amoris is someone who has one affair after the other. Living in a city full of students my guess is that Groningen must be full of desultores amoris
siqua fides (sit): if any loyalty exists
fila sororum: the Parces, the three old sisters who are spinning the threads (fila) of everyone’s life
contingat: may it happen
teque dolente: abl. abs. This is pathetic!
materiem felicem: `happy material’ apposition to te.
praebeo: to show
provenio: come forth
causa sua: abl!
habent: subjects are Io, (ea) quam and quaeque
Io: Io was an Argive princess, who fled for Zeus and was changed by him into a cow.  She got frightened (exterrita) when she noticed that horns started to grow on her head. Zeus changed himself into a bull and continued chasing her.
fluminea ave: in (the form of) a river bird i.e. a swan. This refers to Leda and Zeus in the form of a swan. From this union Castor and Pollux were born.
super pontum simulato vecta iuvenco: carried on a supposed bull over the sea. Zeus led Europa away in the form of a tame bull and when Europa was riding on him for fun, Zeus swam with her to Crete. Undoubtedly this tale is inspired by the cult of the bull at Crete during Minoan times and of which frescos are preserved at Cnossos.
varus: curved
pariter: in the same way

Here is a translation by Christopher Marlow:

I aske but right: let hir that cought me late,
Either love, or cause that I may never hate:
I aske too much, would she but let me love hir,
Love knowes with such like praiers, I dayly move hir:
Accept him that will serve thee all his youth,
Accept him that will love with spotlesse truth:
If loftie titles cannot make me thine,
That am descended but of knightly line,
Soone may you plow the little lands I have,
I gladly graunt my parents given to save,
Apollo, Bacchus, and the Muses may,
And Cupide who hath markt me for thy pray,
My spotlesse life, which but to Gods gives place,
Naked simplicitie, and modest grace.
I love but one, and hir I love change never,
If men have Faith, lie live with thee for ever.
The yeares that fatall destenie shall give,
lie live with thee, and die, or thou shalt grieve.
Be thou the happie subject of my Bookes,
That I may write things worthy thy faire lookes:
By verses horned Jo got hir name,
And she to whom in shape of Swanne Jove came.
And she that on a faind Bull swamme to land,
Griping his false hornes with hir virgin hand:
So likewise we will through the world be rung,
And with my name shall thine be alwaies sung.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Augustine on the the death of his mother (end).

Augustine continues to tell about the death of his mother.  9.11.28 is an interlude in which he recalls some details about his mother. I have left the first part out in the Latin text, but in the translation it is put between brackets.
The theological reflections might not be to everyone’s taste, but in his Confessiones Augustine has left a monument for his mother which has no equal in ancient literature.

audivi etiam postea quod iam cum Ostiis essemus cum quibusdam amicis meis materna fiducia conloquebatur quodam die de contemptu vitae huius et bono mortis, ubi ipse non aderam, illisque stupentibus virtutem feminae (quoniam tu dederas ei) quaerentibusque utrum non formidaret tam longe a sua civitate corpus relinquere, 'nihil' inquit 'longe est deo, neque timendum est, ne ille non agnoscat in fine saeculi unde me resuscitet.' ergo die nono aegritudinis suae, quinquagesimo et sexto anno aetatis suae, tricesimo et tertio aetatis meae, anima illa religiosa et pia corpore soluta est.

materna fiducia: Augustine  continually stresses the confidence of his mother, both she had in him and she had in the providence of God.
conloquebatur: Monica
ipse: Augustine
stupeo: to be stunned
tu: God
formido: to fear
deo: probably dative
in fine saeculi unde me resuscitet: there are two – conflicting - concepts of afterlife in Christianity: a) a kind of sleep till the day of judgement when God will arise the deceased. This vision was popular among certain Jewish groups and hence formed part of the earliest strata of Christian believe and b) the idea of the survival of the soul and it being judged immediately after death. This concept is Hellenistic, with a strong influence of middle Platonism.  Generally speaking we may say that Eastern Christianity has put more emphasis on the first idea, whereas Western Christianity has put more emphasis on the second, however at this time the idea of a judgement after the resurrection was prevalent in the West too.


premebam oculos eius, et confluebat in praecordia mea maestitudo ingens et transfluebat in lacrimas, ibidemque oculi mei violento animi imperio resorbebant fontem suum usque ad siccitatem, et in tali luctamine valde male mihi erat. tum vero ubi efflavit extremum, puer Adeodatus exclamavit in planctu atque ab omnibus nobis coercitus tacuit. hoc modo etiam meum quiddam puerile, quod labebatur in fletus, iuvenali voce cordis coercebatur et tacebat. neque enim decere arbitrabamur funus illud questibus lacrimosis gemitibusque celebrare, quia his plerumque solet deplorari quaedam miseria morientium aut quasi omnimoda extinctio. at illa nec misere moriebatur nec omnino moriebatur. hoc et documentis morum eius et fide non ficta rationibusque certis tenebamus.

oculos eius: the eyes of Monica
praecordia: midriff, (as seat of emotions:) chest, heart
maestitudo, -inis (f.): sorrow
ibidem: immediately
violento animi imperio: on the strong urge of my soul
siccitas, -atis: dryness
luctamen, aminis (n.): strife
valde male mihi erat: it was very bad for me, I had it very difficult
efflavit extremum: she blew out her last breath
Adeodatus (372 – 389/90): Augustine’s son by his concubine for 15 years. We do not know her name and after his conversion he left her.
planctus,  –us (m.): wailing
meum quiddam puerile: something childish in me
labor lapsus sum: to lapse
funus funeris (n.): funeral
questus, –us (m.): compliant
gemitus, -us (m.): lamentation
omnimoda: completely
documentum: testimony

(But I, considering Thy gifts, Thou unseen God, which Thou instillest
into the hearts of Thy faithful ones, whence wondrous fruits do spring,
did rejoice and give thanks to Thee, recalling what I before knew,
how careful and anxious she had ever been as to her place of burial,
which she had provided and prepared for herself by the body of her
husband. For because they had lived in great harmony together, she
also wished (so little can the human mind embrace things divine) to
have this addition to that happiness, and to have it remembered among
men, that after her pilgrimage beyond the seas, what was earthly of
this united pair had been permitted to be united beneath the same
earth. But when this emptiness had through the fulness of Thy goodness
begun to cease in her heart, I knew not, and rejoiced admiring what
she had so disclosed to me; though indeed in that our discourse also
in the window, when she said, "What do I here any longer?" there appeared
no desire of dying in her own country.)

I heard afterwards also, that when we were now at Ostia, she with a mother's confidence, when I
was absent, one day discoursed with certain of my friends about the
contempt of this life, and the blessing of death: and when they were
amazed at such courage which Thou hadst given to a woman, and asked,
"Whether she were not afraid to leave her body so far from her own
city?" she replied, "Nothing is far to God; nor was it to be feared
lest at the end of the world, He should not recognise whence He were
to raise me up." On the ninth day then of her sickness, and the fifty--
sixth year of her age, and the three-and-thirtieth of mine, was that
religious and holy soul freed from the body.

     I closed her eyes; and there flowed withal a mighty sorrow into
my heart, which was overflowing into tears; mine eyes at the same
time, by the violent command of my mind, drank up their fountain wholly
dry; and woe was me in such a strife! But when she breathed her last,
the boy Adeodatus burst out into a loud lament; then, checked by us
all, held his peace. In like manner also a childish feeling in me,
which was, through my heart's youthful voice, finding its vent in
weeping, was checked and silenced. For we thought it not fitting to
solemnise that funeral with tearful lament, and groanings; for thereby
do they for the most part express grief for the departed, as though
unhappy, or altogether dead; whereas she was neither unhappy in her
death, nor altogether dead. Of this we were assured on good grounds,
the testimony of her good conversation and her faith unfeigned.

(Translation by E.B. Pusey, 1838)