Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Ovid, Ars Amatoria: always flatter a girl.

I don’t care about clothing and I hate fashion shops: whatever the local Aldi has sometimes on offer is good enough for me. I share this character trait with other men – hipsters and some others excluded. I also can’t tell what a woman was wearing the last time I saw her, even when on the same day she has changed clothes. This, I understand from Ovid, is a carelessness and negligence unforgivable in the beginning of a relationship: if you want to keep a girl, praise whatever she is wearing and flatter her!

Ovid, Ars Amatoria, book 2, 295 – 314

Sed te, cuicumque est retinendae cura puellae,               295
     attonitum forma fac putet esse sua.
Sive erit in Tyriis, Tyrios laudabis amictus:
     sive erit in Cois, Coa decere puta.
Aurata est? ipso tibi sit pretiosior auro;
     gausapa si sumpsit, gausapa sumpta proba.               300
Astiterit tunicata, 'moves incendia' clama,
     sed timida, caveat frigora, voce roga.
Conpositum discrimen erit, discrimina lauda:
     torserit igne comam, torte capille, place.
Brachia saltantis, vocem mirare canentis,               305
     et, quod desierit, verba querentis habe.
Ipsos concubitus, ipsum venerere licebit
     quod iuvat, et quae dat gaudia voce notes.
Ut fuerit torva violentior illa Medusa,
     fiet amatori lenis et aequa suo.               310
Tantum, ne pateas verbis simulator in illis,
     effice, nec vultu destrue dicta tuo.
Si latet, ars prodest: adfert deprensa pudorem,
     Atque adimit merito tempus in omne fidem.

retinendae puellae (gen.):  for the girl to be kept
attonitus : astonished
forma sua abl.
Tyriis (amictibus)
Tyrius: purple (The city of Tyrus was famous for its purple
amictus – us (m.): dress, garment
Coa (n. plur.): purple garments from Cos
tibi: dative of interest: in your opinion, she is  etc.
gausapa -orum: a shaggy woollen cloth (mostly f., but here n, pl.)
sumo sumpsi sumptum: ro take, use
asto: to stand erect
tunicatum: dressed in a tunic (i.e. underware, leaving little room for phantasy,  Of course this is at home, not in public.)
moveo incendia: set on fire
timida voce abl.
caveat frigora: whether she will beware of the cold
conpositum discrimen:  a combed hair parting
torqueo torsi torsum: to twist, curl
igne: that is with the calamistrum, (curling-iron) heated in fire
brachium: arm
salto: to dance (like in Indian dancing, the movement of the arms played an important role)
desino desii: to cease, stop
verba querentis habe: unusual construction `have words of one complaining’ = `complain that she stops’
Ipsos concubitus, ipsum venerere licebit  quod iuvat:  venerere goes also with ipsos concibutus `It will be allowedvenerate the very acts of making love and that what you like in particular’
et quae dat gaudia voce notes: a locus desperatus. The reading of the manuscripts is et quaedam gaudia noctis habe. This reading has been rejected as it doesn’t fit the context, namely praising the girl. I wonder if this is a valid argument, as the Latin is clear enough, but I am not a specialist in textual criticism. The emendation of the text above made by Goold in 1965 and found on internet is now questioned and the alternative proposed in 1892 by Ellis: et quae clam gaudia noctis habes (or habet when it refers to the girl) is considered more satisfying. Gould’s emendation takes puella is subject of dat: `and which joys she gives, you shall express with your voice ‘. Ellis: and which joys of the night, you shall have it secretly.’
torvus: wild, fierce (abl. with Medusa)
violentior: i.e. not under control yet
tantum effice: act in such a way
ne pateas simulator: that don’t you manifest yourself  as a feigner
destruo destruxi destructum:  destroy
prosum (prodesse): to be useful
deprendo deprendi deprensum: to take away, find out (subject: ars)
pudorem: i.e. she will not sleep with you anymore
adimo ademi ademptum: to take away (subject: ars deprensa)
merito: rightly
tempus in omne (= in omne tempus): forever

Rather free translation by Julian May (1930)

If you want to keep your mistress's love, you must make her think you're dazzled with her charms. If she wears a dress of Tyrian purple, tell her there's nothing like Tyrian purple. If she's wearing a gown of Coan stuff, tell her that there's nothing becomes her so enchantingly. If she's ablaze with gold, tell her that you think gold's less brilliant than her charms. If she's clad in winter furs, tell her they're lovely; if she appears in a flimsy tunic, tell her she sets you on fire, and say you hope she won't catch cold. If she wears her hair parted on her forehead, say you like that style. If she has it frizzed and fuzzy, say, "How I love it frizzed!" Praise her arms when she dances, her voice when she sings, and when she ceases, say how sorry you are it came to an end so soon. If she admits you to her bed, adore the seat of all your bliss, and in tones trembling with delight tell her what a heaven she makes for you. Why, even if she were grimmer than the terrible Medusa, she would grow soft and docile for her love. Be a good dissembler and never let your face belie your words. Artifice is a fine thing when it's not perceived; once it's discovered, discomfiture follows. Confidence is gone for ever.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Gellius on the ridiculous word bibosus.

Aulus Gellius  (125-180) was an avid reader and when he stayed at Athens he read during the evening and wrote down what seems to him strange or remarkable. His Noctes Atticae are a collection are thus a collection of sometimes pedantic marginalia. Take for instance his remarks on bibosus `given to drinking’. Reading through a work on grammar by Publius Nigidius Figulus (100-45 BC), he noted this word and with indignation he remarks that this word is WRONG: it only occurs in the mime Salinator  (The Salt Dealer) by Laberius (105-43 BC). A mimus was a play about sex and crime, using words from daily language and unfortunately not a single mime has come down to us, though some 700 lines from the writer Publilius Syrus have been preserved.   As for Nigidius and Laberius: their works are lost, apart from quotations here and there put down by other writers. During their lifetime they were famous, but are now remembered for using the inadmissible word bibosus. So far eternal glory!
The chapter ends with a quote from the Salinator, describing a girl who nowadays wouldn’t make it in the showbiz: she young (non annosa), she is not busty (mammosa), not addicted to alcohol (bibosa) and not insolent (procax).

Aulius Gellius Noctes Attica  III, 12
Largum atque avidum bibendi a P. Nigidio, doctissimo viro, nova et prope absurda vocabuli figura "bibosum" dictum.

1 Bibendi avidum P. Nigidius in commentariis grammaticis "bibacem" et "bibosum" dicit. 2 "Bibacem" ego ut "edacem" a plerisque aliis dictum lego; "bibosum" dictum nondum etiam usquam repperi nisi apud Laberium, neque aliud est, quod simili inclinatu dicatur. 3 Non enim simile est ut "vinosus" aut "vitiosus" ceteraque, quae hoc modo dicuntur, quoniam a vocabulis, non a verbo, inclinata sunt. 4 Laberius in mimo, qui Salinator inscriptus est, verbo hoc ita utitur: non mammosa, non annosa, non bibosa, non procax.

largus (+ gen.): abounding in (with an implied `someone’)
avidus (+ gen.): greedy for
vocabuli figura: formation of a word (abl.!)
bibax -acis: prone to drinking (adjectives ending in ax denote a lasting habit. Bibax, like bibosus, is only found in this chapter).
edax  -acis: voracious
aliis (auctoribus)
reperio repperi repertum: to find
inclinatus – us (m.): formation (of a word)
vinosus: Gellius rightly remarks that adjectives in osus are made from a noun (vocabulum).

Monday, 7 September 2015

Seneca: turn away from the masses (and from soccer)!

Due to a bad performance, the Dutch soccer team will not go to the European championships next year. They had to win the last two games, but lost from Iceland and Turkey. For me it is enough: I will to turn to stoicism. Soccer is a game for the masses and the masses are always wrong. Apart from that, the players are striving after vain glory and useless money instead of striving after better knowledge of their souls. For too long I didn’t want to see this, but Seneca has opened my eyes. In his De Vita Beata he advises us to turn away from the masses (turba, vulgus) and to pursuit a life according to the ideals of stoicism.  This means in effect that I have to withdraw from watching games coming year and train myself in living according to nature. But when by chance I happen to see a game, I will shake my head about that much folly – and secretly support the Germans, Belgians or Icelanders.
Seneca, De Vita Beata, c. 2

Cum de beata uita agetur, non est quod mihi illud discessionum more respondeas: 'haec pars maior esse uidetur.' Ideo enim peior est. Non tam bene cum rebus humanis agitur ut meliora pluribus placeant: argumentum pessimi turba est. 2. Quaeramus ergo quid optimum factu sit, non quid usitatissimum, et quid nos in possessione felicitatis aeternae constituat, non quid uulgo, ueritatis pessimo interpreti, probatum sit. Vulgum autem tam chlamydatos quam coronatos uoco; non enim colorem uestium quibus praetexta sunt corpora, aspicio. Oculis de homine non credo, habeo melius et certius lumen quo a falsis uera diiudicem: animi bonum animus inueniat. Hic, si umquam respirare illi et recedere in se uacauerit, o quam sibi ipse uerum tortus a se fatebitur ac dicet: 3. 'quidquid feci adhuc infectum esse mallem, quidquid dixi cum recogito, mutis inuideo, quidquid optaui inimicorum execrationem puto, quidquid timui, di boni, quanto leuius fuit quam quod concupii! Cum multis inimicitias gessi et in gratiam ex odio, si modo ulla inter malos gratia est, redii: mihi ipsi nondum amicus sum. Omnem operam dedi ut me multitudini educerem et aliqua dote notabilem facerem: quid aliud quam telis me opposui et maleuolentiae quod morderet ostendi? 4. Vides istos qui eloquentiam laudant, qui opes sequuntur, qui gratiae adulantur, qui potentiam extollunt? omnes aut sunt hostes aut, quod in aequo est, esse possunt; quam magnus mirantium tam magnus inuidentium populus est. Quin potius quaero aliquod usu bonum, quod sentiam, non quod ostendam? ista quae spectantur, ad quae consistitur, quae alter alteri stupens monstrat, foris nitent, introrsus misera sunt

discessionum more: according to the way of voting in the Senate (litt.: in the way of departing. When there was a vote in the senate, senators walked to the party they agreed with.)
argumentum pessimi turba est: proof of the worse is the crowd
constituat: can bring
interpres –etis (m.): interpreter
chlamydatus: dressed in a chlamys, a kind of cloak worn by military, but there were also expensive versions with purple and gold, worn by high officials
praetextus: adorned
de homine: shorthand for `when I judge about a human’
diiudico: to judge
animi bonum animus inueniat: a soul will find the good of (another) soul
hic = animus
illi = animo
si umquam respirare illi et recedere in se uacauerit: if there is ever time for the soul to take a breath and recede in itself
tortus a se: tormented by itself (i.e. by questioning and soul-searching)
fateor fassus sum: to confess
infectus: undone
recogito: to rethink
mutis: the mute (animals)
invideo (+ dat.): to be jealous of
quidquid…execrationem puto: whatever…I consider as a curse
concupio concupi(v)i: to desire
inimicitias gessi: I have been in enmity
in gratiam redeo: to reconcile (gratia: reconciliation)
inter malos: no true friendship can exist between bad people
mihi ipsi nondum amicus sum: i.e. because the animus is distracted
operam do: to strive
dos dotis (f.): gift, talent
(me) notabilem facerem: I could make myself renown
telis: dative with opposui
mordeo momordi morsum: to bite
ops opis (f.): power, wealth
adulor (+ dat.): to flatter
in equo est: what is the same
quam magnus (populus) mirantium: as great as the crowd of admirers
aliquod usu bonum: something (proven) good through practice
quod sentiam, non quod ostendam: i.e inner experience versus outward display
ad quae consistitur: impersonal construction `at which people stand still’
stupeo: to be astonished
foris: from the outside
niteo: to shine
introrsus: inside

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Priapea 9 and 10: not an easy job.

It is autumn and as if nature has been waiting for it, temperatures have dropped by ten degrees.  I love autumn: it is the period of mushrooms, cobwebs, the smell of decaying leaves in a wood and of gnomes. One such gnome is Priapus, the father of all garden gnomes. Priapus is known for his outstanding mentula (prick) and to be honest, this must be an awkward position. I at least would feel uncomfortable standing so in my garden or even worse, the garden of someone else.  Priapus must have had feeling too and in 9 he defends himself by pointing out that every god is depicted with his specific weapon. A valid argument, I think.
However, there are more problems: not all statues of Priapus are made of marble or cut from wood with an artistic hand. No, many must have been roughly cut by farmers without any aesthetic feeling This has happened to the Priapus of poem 10. He was so badly carved that that his maker had to explain to him who he actually was: tu Priapus esto! And there you are: standing in the garden with a clumsy stick as an object of male pride. And if that is not enough, a girl is making fun of you and your glory. Now that is really awkward and a true nightmare!  No, it isn’t always easy to be a Priapus.


[IX] eleagic

Cur obscaena mihi pars sit sine veste, requirens ?
quaere, tegat nullus cur sua tela deus.
fulmen habens mundi dominus tenet illud aperte;
nec datur aequoreo fuscina tecta deo.
nec Mavors illum, per quem valet, occulit ensem;
nec latet in tepido Palladis hasta sinu.
num pudet auratas Phoebum portare sagittas?
clamne solet pharetram ferre Diana suam?
num tegit Alcides nodosae robora clavae?
sub tunica virgam num deus ales habet?
quis Bacchum gracili vestem praetendere thyrso,
quis te celata cum face vidit, Amor?
nec mihi sit crimen, quod mentula semper aperta est:
hoc mihi si telum desit, inermis ero.

requiro: to find out, inquire
quaero: to ask
tego texi tectum: to cover
telum: missile, weapon
dominus mundi: Jove
aperte: openly, unconcealed
fuscina: trident
aequoreo deo: sea god = Neptune
Mavors: old name for Mars
valeo: to be strong
occulo: to cover
ensis –is: sword
tepidus: lukewarm
sinus –us (m.): bosom
pudet (+ acc.): it shames someone
auratas sagittas:  gilded arrows
clam: secretly
pharetra: quiver
Alcides = Hercules
nodosus:  knotty
robur roboris (n.): oak wood
virga : twig
deus ales: winged god = Mercury
gracili vestem praetendere thyrso: putting  his cloak over his tender staff
celate face: with covered torch
inermis: unarmed

[X] (hendecasyllabic)

Insulsissima quid puella rides?
non me Praxiteles Scopasve fecit,
non sum Phidiaca manu politus;
sed lignum rude vilicus dolavit
et dixit mihi 'tu Priapus esto'.
spectas me tamen et subinde rides:
nimirum tibi salsa res videtur
adstans inguinibus columna nostris.

insulsus: without salt = tasteless = silly, course (opposite of salsus: salted, witty, funny)
Praxiteles and Scopas and Phidias were famous Greek sculptors, Phidias was an expert in the use of ivory.
polio: to polish
vilicus: farmer
dolo: to hack out, hew
subinde: continually
inguen –inis (m.): groin, lower part of the body, privy parts (plural)
columna: column,  pillar

Translation by Leonard C. Smithers (1890)
(By far the best translation is by W.H. Parker, but this is not on line, so I have to copy this one. Hilarious is the use of mentule . mentula is a slang word and must be translated as such.)

Why are my privy parts without vesture? you demand. I ask why no God conceals his emblem? The Lord of the World [Jupiter] has his thunderbolt, and holds it unconcealed; nor is a covered trident given to the God of the Sea [Neptune]. Mars does not secrete the sword by whose means he prevails; nor does Pallas's spear lie hid in the warm bosom of her robe. Is Phoebus ashamed to carry his golden arrows? Is Diana wont to bear her quiver secretly? Does Alcides conceal the strength of his knotted club? Has the winged God [Mercury] his caduceus under his tunic? Who has seen Bacchus draw his garment over the slender thyrsus; or thee, O Love, with hidden torch? Nor should it be a reproach to me that my mentule is always uncovered. For if this spear be wanting to me, I am weaponless.

Why, most foolish girl, do you laugh? Neither Praxiteles nor Scopas has given me shape, nor have I been perfected by the hand of Phidias; but a bailiff carved me from a shapeless log, and said to me, 'You are Priapus!' Yet you gaze at me, and laugh repeatedly. Doubtless it seems to you a droll thing--the 'column' standing upright from my groin.