Sunday, 8 March 2015

Tibullus (?): how mean a girlfriend can be!

I have never planned a systematic reading of all classical Latin poetry. Not that it is impossible, but there are many things I also like to do. Fortunately there are florilegia. The pleasure of florilegia is that they contain a selection of various authors and one can pick up one of these flowers and read it. In an old Dutch schoolbook with Latin poems I found Tibullus 4,13, but on the Latin Library it is listed as 3,19 and from an unknown author. Indeed, book 3 and 4 were originally one book and book 4 contains poems which are almost certain not composed by Tibullus.  However the author presents himself as Tibullus.  The author is passionately in love with his girlfriend and wants her for himself. Even when suddenly another girlfriend were thrown from heaven, he would not fall in love with her. He swears by Juno, but then he realizes that this vow will make him completely subject to his girlfriend. HE has vowed, SHE has not and is free to have other man. The only thing the poor poet can do is seek asylum sitting ad an altar, just as a slave badly treated by his dominus flees to an altar.
The following epigram tells that rumour goes that the poet’s girlfriend is having various liaisons.  Please shut up rumour!  Though it is not certain – even unlike - that it is the same poet referring to the same girl, the fact that in the manuscript tradition these two poems go together indicates that whoever compiled book 3 wanted the epigram as a sequel to the elegy. What a nice idea!

Tibullus  4.13 (= incerti auctoris 3.19)

Nulla tuum nobis subducet femina lectum:
    hoc primum iuncta est foedere nostra uenus.
Tu mihi sola places, nec iam te praeter in urbe
    formosa est oculis ulla puella meis.
Atque utinam posses uni mihi bella uideri!               5
    Displiceas aliis: sic ego tutus ero.
Nil opus inuidia est, procul absit gloria uulgi:
    qui sapit, in tacito gaudeat ille sinu.
Sic ego secretis possum bene uiuere siluis,
    qua nulla humano sit uia trita pede.               10
Tu mihi curarum requies, tu nocte uel atra
    lumen, et in solis tu mihi turba locis.
Nunc licet e caelo mittatur amica Tibullo,
    mittetur frustra deficietque Venus;
hoc tibi sancta tuae Iunonis numina iuro,               15
    quae sola ante alios est mihi magna deos.
Quid facio demens? Heu! heu! mea pignora cedo;
    iuraui stulte: proderat iste timor.
Nunc tu fortis eris, nunc tu me audacius ures:
    hoc peperit misero garrula lingua malum.               20
Iam faciam quodcumque uoles, tuus usque manebo,
    nec fugiam notae seruitium dominae,
sed Veneris sanctae considam uinctus ad aras:
    haec notat iniustos supplicibusque fauet.

Tibullus  4.14 (= incerti auctoris 3.20)

Rumor ait crebro nostram peccare puellam
    nunc ego me surdis auribus esse uelim.
Crimina non haec sunt nostro sine facta dolore:
    quid miserum torques, rumor acerbe? Tace!

subduco subduxi subductum:  to lead away (the prefix `sub’ has often the connotation of something secretly done.)
lectus (bed)= amor
iuncta foedere:  was united/ sealed with a bond
(in) oculis
displiceo displicui displicitum: to displease
Nil opus inuidia est: there is no need for envy
procul:  far from
(tua) Gloria
sapio sapivi: to be wise
in tacito gaudeat ille sinu: i.e enjoying with one’s face hidden in the fold (sinus) of the toga. The expression is proverbial.
tritus: trodden
tu nocte uel atra = vel tu nocte atra
turba: band of compagnons
deficio defeci defectum: to be absent
ante alios deos
mea pignora cedo: I give away my promise (to be faithful to her only)
proderat iste timor: that fear (of losing me) was useful (for you)
uri ussi ustum: to burn, torture
misero (mihi)
garrulus: talkative
notus: well-known, infamous
consido consedi: to sit down
noto: to brand with infamy
supplex supplicis (m. and f.): suppliant

crebro: repeatedly
surdus: deaf
crimina non haec sunt nostro sine facta dolore = haec crimina non facta sunt sine nostro dolore
(me) miserum
torqueo torsi tortum: to torture
acerbus: bitter, cruel

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