Monday, 13 January 2014

Catullus 34: a song for Diana.

In this delightful little poem Catullus celebrates Diana, the Roman equivalent of Artemis. The Romans were never good in making myths and they took almost completely over Greek mythology. The origins of Artemis are obscure and there is no satisfying etymology for her name. It is well possible that she is of non-Greek origin and that she reflects an ancient goddess of the forests and the wild animals.
In this poem chaste (integri) boys and girls sing in honour of Diana. To underpin the solemnity, Catullus uses various obsolete forms.

Catullus XXXIV: carmen Dianae

Meter: lines 1-3 glyconeus

Dianae sumus in fide
puellae et pueri integri:
Dianam pueri integri
puellaeque canamus.

in fide: in the protection of

o Latonia, maximi
magna progenies Iovis,
quam mater prope Deliam
deposivit olivam,

Latonia:  child of Latona (Leto), Greek Λητώ/ Λατώ  the mother of Diana
progenies (f.): offspring
Deliam olivam:  Latona gave birth to Diana and Apollo on the isle of Delos, supporting herself with her hand on an olive tree while giving birth.
deposivit = deposuit `delivered’ (deposivit is an ancient perfect. pono  comes from older po-sino in which po is a preposition related to Greek ἀπό.)

montium domina ut fores
silvarumque virentium
saltuumque reconditorum
amniumque sonantum:

fores: ancient form for eris
silva: forest
vireo: to be green (from the same root vir as ver  `spring’)
saltus –us (m.): forest, valley
recondo recondidi reconditus: to hide
amnis  -is (m.) river
sonantum = sonantium (the i would fall out of the meter!)

tu Lucina dolentibus
Iuno dicta puerperis,
tu potens Trivia et notho es
dicta lumine Luna.

Lucina Iuno: The name of Diana as goddess of birth (This was certainly true for Artemis, but for Roman religion it is unlikely that Diana ever performed this function.)
puerpera: a woman giving birth
Trivia: Hecate, goddess of the cross-roads is often identifies with Diana. She is also the goddess of the moon.
et notho es dicta lumine Luna: and you are Luna, said to be of borrowed light (nothos is a Greek loan-word. It alludes to the idea that the moon gets its light from the sun, a theory first put forward by Parmenides (born around 510 BC.)

tu cursu, dea, menstruo
metiens iter annuum,
rustica agricolae bonis
tecta frugibus exples.

menstruus: monthly
metior mensus sum: to measure
annuum = annorum
rustica tecta: the farms
expleo explevi expletum: to fill (the idea was that the moon influenced the growth of crops and animals.)

sis quocumque tibi placet
sancta nomine, Romulique,
antique ut solita es, bona
sospites ope gentem.

sis quocumque tibi placet sancta nomine =  sis sancta quocumque nomine tibi placet: may you be hallowed by whatever name you pleases. (in case the poet forgets a name of her.)
Romulique, antique ut solita es, bona sospites ope gentem. = et sospites Romuli gentem bona ope, ut antique solita es.
antique ut solita es: as you are used (to do) in an good, old fashioned manner
sospito (-are): to protect, serve (An obsolete word used in prayers.)
ops opis (f.): help, support (the nom. and dat. sg. do not occur.)

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