Thursday, 27 February 2014

Martial 2.62: a question.

Years ago I bought a small book containing Greek erotic poems, Anthologiae Graecae Erotica. The editor and translator W. Paton left some poems untranslated or sought refuge into Italian, assuming that his English readers would be less offended when they read such a poem in this language. Well, this book is from 1898 - at the end of the Victorian age – so we need not be surprised (but Italian translators translate these epigrams into English in order not to shock their public?).The same happened with the Loeb edition of Martial, published in 1919: explicit material was translated into Italian. I discovered this when I decided to post this epigram by Martial, which I happened to find this evening in a Dutch book about humour in Antiquity. The Loeb edition is on internet and I wondered how this would be translated – if at all. This means that as far as I can see, there is no English translation of this epigram and many other explicit epigrams by Martial on internet. And that is really a shame. True, there are some recent translations of such epigrams on the web, but a complete modern translation of this poet is a desideratum, as it gives an insight into Roman mentality in the first century AD. After all, we are not living anymore in the Victorian age.
In this poem Martial addresses a certain Labienus about his custom of shaving his body hair. For all those who think that this is a modern trend for men: here is the evidence that it is not.  Martial can understand why he does that with some parts of his body, but one question remains…

Martial, Epigrams book 2, 62

Quod pectus, quod crura tibi, quod bracchia uellis,
     quod cincta est breuibus mentula tonsa pilis,
hoc praestas, Labiene, tuae — quis nescit? — amicae.
     Cui praestas, culum quod, Labiene, pilas?

pectus pectoris (n.): breast
crus cruris (n.): leg
bracchium: arm
vello velli vulsum: to rob, make free from (+abl.)
cinctus: around (cingo cinxi cinctus: to go around)
mentula: penis
tondeo  totondi tonsum: to shave 
pilus: hair
praesto praestiti praestitum: to take upon one’s self, perform
culum: ass
pilo: to deprive of hair

The Loeb translation:


Il perche ti dissetoli il petto, le gambe, le braccia,
il perche la rasa tua mentola e cinta di curti peli, chi
non sa che tutto questo, O Labieno, prepari per la
tua arnica? Per chi, O Labieno, prepari tu il culo
che dissetoli ?

Monday, 24 February 2014

The colloquium by Aelfric of Eynsham: whipping pupils for the sake of learning Latin?

Recently I published the full texts of the colloquium by Alcuin.  By chance I found another colloquium too, written by Abbot Aelfric of Eynsham (c. 955 – c. 1010). As Aelfric was a common name in Anglo-
Saxon England, he has been confused till the middle of the 19th century with Aelfric of Abingdon, Archbishop of Canterbury.  
Aelfric of Eynsham was prolific writer of homilies, vitae and other Christian literature in Anglo-Saxon, but he was also concerned with raising the standard of Latin. In order to improve this, he wrote a grammar, a glossary of some 3000 words and a colloquium. As this colloquium was extensively used, various versions exist, and I am not quite sure which edition this is, but as far as I could see on internet, it agrees with a manuscript at Leyden University.
As with Alcuin, this colloquium is not without humour. First of all, the magister asks the pueri if they want to be beaten by a whip while being taught Latin and the pupils agree that for the sake of learning they indeed want to. Now this indeed must be the dream and paradise of every teacher Latin: pupils asking to be beaten!  However they continue saying that he is far too kind to do this.
The magister further asks what kind of profession the pueri are doing or are being trained for. A lot are mentioned and he is asking details about every profession. I have only included the monk to be and the poor boy who has to plough the fields. Here too there is humour as Aelfric let the boy complain about the hardship of ploughing and tending the cattle. Did Aelfric remember himself how hard it was?

Colloquium Ælfrici.

1 Nos pueri rogamus te, magister, ut doceas nos loqui latialiter recte, quia idiotae sumus et corrupte loquimur.
2 Quid vultis loqui?
3 Quid curamus quid loquamur, nisi recta locutio sit et utilis, non anilis aut turpis.
4 Vultis flagellari in discendo?
5 Carius est nobis flagellari pro doctrina quam nescire. Sed scimus te mansuetum esse et
nolle inferre plagas nobis, nisi cogaris a nobis.
6 Interrogo te, quid mihi loqueris? Quid habes operis?
7 Professus sum monachus, et psallam omni die septem sinaxes cum fratribus, et occupatus
sum lectionibus et cantu, sed tamen vellem interim discere sermocinari Latina lingua.
8 Quid sciunt isti tui socii?
9 Alii sunt aratores, alii opiliones, quidam bubulci, quidam etiam venatores, alii piscatores,
alii aucupes, quidam mercatores, quidam sutores, quidam salinatores, quidam pistores,
10 Quid dicis tu, arator? Quomodo exerces opus tuum?
11 O, mi domine, nimium laboro. Exeo diluculo minando boves ad campum, et iungo eos ad
aratrum; non est tam aspera hiems ut audeam latere domi pro timore domini mei, sed
iunctis bobus, et confirmato vomere et cultro aratro, omni die debeo arare integrum agrum
aut plus.
12 Habes aliquem socium?
13 Habeo quendam puerum minantem boves cum stimulo, qui etiam modo raucus est prae
frigore et clamatione.
14 Quid amplius facis in die?
15 Certe adhuc plus facio. Debeo implere praesaepia boum feno, et adaquare eos, et fimum
eorum portare foras. O! O! magnus est labor. Etiam, magnus labor est, quia non sum liber.
160 O, probi pueri et venusti mathites, vos hortatur vester eruditor ut pareatis divinis disciplinis
et observetis vosmet eleganter ubique locorum. Inceditis morigerate cum auscultaveritis
ecclesiae campanas, et ingredimini in orationem, et inclinate suppliciter ad almas aras, et
state disciplinabiliter, et concinite unanimiter, et intervenite pro vestris errantibus, et
egredimini sine scurrilitate in claustrum vel in gimnasium

latialiter  = latine (latialis: of Latium)

pro doctrina (grammaticae Latinae): for the sake of the `doctrine’ (of Latin grammar)
anilis:  of an old woman
mansuesco mansuevi mansuetum: to become soft, gentle
Quid habes operis?: What kind of work do you do?
profiteor professus sum: to declare, promiss
psallo: to sing hymns
septem sinaxes: seven meetings for prayer (sinaxis or synaxis)
sermonicor: to speak, converse
arator –oris (m.): ploughman
opilio –onis (m.): shepherd
bubulcus: herdsman
venator –oris ( m.): hunter
piscator –oris (m.): fisher
aucupator –oris (m.): fowler (a hunter of wildfowl.)
sutor –oris (m.): shoemaker
salinator –oris (m.): a dealer in salt
pistor –oris (m.): baker
coci = coqui (`cooks’.  I wonder whether this was pronounced as `cochee’ or that the c here was treated as k.)
nimium: exceedingly
diluculum: daybreak, twilight (di + lux)
mino: to drive cattle (minando = minans. In ME Latin the abl. of the gerundive has the meaning of the nom. of the participle.)
aratrum: plough
lateo latui: to lie hid, hide
bubus: abl. of bos `rind’
confirmato vomere et cultro aratro: fitting the plough with its ploughshare and blade
stimulum: prick, goad
raucus: hoarse
clamatio –onis: screaming
praesaepe -is (n.): stable
boum: gen. pl. of bos
fenum: hay
adaquo: to bring water
fimim: dung
foras: outside
probus: good, excellent
venusti mathites: pleasant pupils (venustus is thus glossed by Aelfric in Anglo-Saxon and mathites is a Greek word.)
eruditor: teacher
ut pareatis divinis disciplinis et observetis vosmet eleganter ubique locorum: That you may obey the divine teaching and express yourself neatly (in Latin) in all kind of circumstances.
inceditis: you proceed (to mass). One would expect incedite.
morigerate obediently
ausculto: to hear
campana: bell
oratio –onis (f.): prayer
suppliciter: humbly
almus: feeding, hence `holy’
concino concinui: to sing harmoniously
intervenite pro vestris errantibus: intercede for those of you who are sinning.
scurritiltas –atis (f.): buffoonery, scurrility
gimnasium: school

Here is the complete text:

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Statius Silvae 5.4: Sleepless nights.

Publius Papinius Statius (45-96) was a poet belonging to the Sliver Age of Latin, called so because the literature of that period could not match the literature of the days of Cicero and Virgil. Of course the Romans writers of that Silver Age did not define themselves as such: the term has been coined by the German philologist W.S Teuffel in his book about the history of Roman literature published in 1870 – dry but useful for its  bibliographical details,  as his wiki lemma says. Not an encouraging remark for reading it, in my opinion at least.
Statius - a native of Naples - moved to Rome for a career as poet and indeed he had some success with his poems, but not the success he had hoped for and disappointed he went back to Naples. The very fact that I am now writing this post proves that he was a bit too pessimistic.
What has remained of the works by Statius are two epic poems of which one unfinished and a collection of occasional poems, the Silvae. In the poem below our poet has already sleepless nights for a week (or pretended to have for the sake of this poem) and is now addressing the god of sleep, Sumnus, and prays him to pass by and give at least some sleep. The cause of this insomnia is left open, which makes this poem intriguing.
Nowadays Statius is little read outside academic circles but this has not always been the case: Keats’ poem To Sleep clearly betrays influences by this poem:

O soft embalmer of the still midnight,
      Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
Our gloom-pleas'd eyes, embower'd from the light,
      Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
      In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the "Amen," ere thy poppy throws
      Around my bed its lulling charities.
Then save me, or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes,—
      Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
      Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.

And though I am not sure whether Goethe had lines 3-6 in mind, the similarities are striking in this poem:

Über allen Gipfeln
Ist Ruh',
In allen Wipfeln
Spürest Du
Kaum einen Hauch;
Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.
Warte nur! Balde
Ruhest du auch.

Above all summits
it is calm.
In all the tree-tops
you feel
scarcely a breath;
The birds in the forest are silent,
just wait, soon
you will rest as well!

Statius, Silvae 5.4 Somnus.
Metrum: Hexameter

Crimine quo merui, iuvenis placidissime divum,
quove errore miser, donis ut solus egerem,
Somne, tuis? tacet omne pecus volucresque feraeque
et simulant fessos curvata cacumina somnos,
nec trucibus fluviis idem sonus; occidit horror          5
aequoris, et terris maria adclinata quiescunt.
septima iam rediens Phoebe mihi respicit aegras
stare genas; totidem Oetaeae Paphiaeque revisunt
lampades et totiens nostros Tithonia questus
praeterit et gelido spargit miserata flagello.          10
unde ego sufficiam? non si mihi lumina mille,
quae sacer alterna tantum statione tenebat
Argus et haud umquam vigilabat corpore toto.
at nunc heu! si aliquis longa sub nocte puellae
brachia nexa tenens ultro te, Somne, repellit,          15
inde veni; nec te totas infundere pennas
luminibus compello meis - hoc turba precatur
laetior: extremo me tange cacumine virgae,
sufficit, aut leviter suspenso poplite transi.

crimine quo: through what crime
mereo merui meritum: to deserve
divum = divorum
donis ut = ut donis
egeo egui (+ abl.): to need
pecus pecoris (n.): cattle
fera: wild animal
cacumen cucuminis (n.): top, peak, point
fessos sumnos: weary sleep, though of course not the sleep is weary, but the culmina, The transference of an adjective to a noun, while ir actually belongs to another noun  is called hypallage.
nec trucibus fluviis idem sonus: nor is there the same sound for
trux trucis: fierce, wild
occido occidi occasus: to fall down
horror: aequoris: i.e. the strong winds at sea (At night there is less wind at sea.)
acclino: to lean on
Phoebe: the moon
aegras stare genas: that my ill eyes are gazing
Oetaeae Paphiaeque lampades the lights of Oeta and Paphius, i.e. the evening star and the morning star (the evening star was believed to rise from mount Oeta and Paphus is a city on Cyprus, the island connected with Venus.
Thitonia: Aurora (Her lover was Tithonus.)
questus –us (m.): complaint

gelido spargit miserata flagello:  sprinkles (me) pitiful with her cool whip (i.e. the whip with which de morning drives the stars away. The image of sprinkling is at first sight strange, but what is meant here by the cool whip is the morning dew.)
sufficio suffeci suffectum: to endure (Note that in the last line  the verb is used in the meaning `to be sufficient’ – a deliberate play with the various meanings.)
lumina mille: In the oldest text, a fragment of a lost poem Aigimios, attributed to Hesiod, Argos had only four eyes, but this rapidly increased in later literature. Because of his many eyes Argos could easily close a couple for sleep (haud umquam vigilabat corpore toto). Argos was appointed by Hera to keep an eye on Io, a mistress of Zeus, who turned her into a heifer in order to escape detection by Hera. Without success…
sacer Argos: Argos is sacred because he served Hera.
brachia nexa: embracing arms
ultro te: against your will
infundo infudi infusum: to pour upon
penna: feather
hoc turba precatur laetior: let a happier crowd pray for that
virga: twig
suspenso poplite: with the knee (poples poplitis, m.) raised

Here is an audio version read by Kathleen Coleman. You need Quick time for the audio:

Translation by J. H. MOZLEY, M.A. (1927)


O youthful Sleep, gentlest of the gods, by what
crime or error of mine have I deserved that I alone
should lack thy bounty ? Silent are all the cattle,
and the wild beasts and the birds, and the curved
mountain summits have the semblance of weary
slumber, nor do the raging torrents roar as they were
wont ; the ruffled waves have sunk to rest, and the
sea leans against earth's bosom and is still. Seven
times now hath the returning moon beheld my fixed
and ailing eyes ; so often have the lights of Oeta and
Paphos  revisited me, so oft hath Tithonia passed by
my groans, and pitying sprinkled me with her cool
whip. Ah ! how may I endure ? Not if I had the
thousand eyes of sacred  Argus, which he kept but
in alternate watchfulness, nor ever waked in all his
frame at once. But now — ah, me ! — if some lover
through the long hours of night is clasping a girl's
entwining arms, and of his own will drives thee from
him, come thence, O Sleep ! nor do I bid thee shower
all the influence of thy wings upon my eyes — that
be the prayer of happier folk ! — touch me but with
thy Avand's extremest tip — 'tis enough — or pass over
me with lightly hovering step.