Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Ruodlieb: some advice.

The Ruodlieb is an early Latin specimen Chivalric romance from the 11th century, though it is difficult to destine its exact genre. Parts of the manuscript were found in 1803 as binding material for books from the library of the abbey of Tegernsee in Bavaria. In all likelihood the writer was a monk from that abbey. Since its discovery more material has been found – the latest discovery was in 1981. As the original parchment was cut up for binding books, the text is incomplete and often needs conjectures.
The story is as follows: a young nobleman, Ruodlieb goes abroad and serves a king. In return for his services, the king gives him advice. These advices give the poem a gnomic nature, compatible with Hesiod’s Works and Days or the Eddic Havamal.
Those expecting deep wisdom in these teachings will be disappointed by its trivial nature, but for a historian these maxims are a treasure of information about contemporary mentality.
The first advice is never to be friends with someone with red hair (rufus). The idea is that one’s complexion betrays one’s character and is associated with anger (ira), someone with red hair is irascible.  Red is also associated with the skin of a fox and indeed, a rufus is can’t be trusted.
The second advice is never to deviate from a path through and village and go through the fields, lest someone will snatch the reigns (frenum) of your horse, when you give a haughty answer (responsum dando superbum).
Advice three and four go together: never ask accommodation in a house where an old man has a young wife. The husband will fear and the young wife will hope. But where a young man has an older widow, there you can sleep safely!
I have retained the spelling of the manuscript.

Ruodlieb ,Fragment 5, 451-67

    Non tibi sit rufus umquam specialis amicus.
    Si fit is iratus, non est fidei memoratus;
    Nam vehemens dira sibi stat durabilis ira.
    Tam bonus haut fuerit, aliqua fraus quin in eo sit,
    Quam vitare nequis, quin ex hac commaculeris;
    Nam tangendo picem vix expurgaris ad unguem.

    Quamvis cenosa per villam sit via trita,
    Numquam devites callem, quo per sata pergas,
    Ne male tracteris careasque tuis ibi frenis
    Correptus per quem responsum dando superbum.

    Quo videas, iuvenem quod habet senior mulierem,
    Hospicium tribui tibi non poscas iteranti;
    In te nam magnam facis insons suspicionem.
    Hic timet, hec sperat, fors inter eos ita versat.

    Ast ubi vir viduam iuvenis teneat veteranam,
    Hospitium posce; non hic timet hec nec amat te.
    Tu(nc) ibi secure dormis sine suspicione.

memoratus (+ gen.): thinking ofsibi stat: temains with him
sibi stat: remains with him
tam haud…quam: by no means so…., that
fraus fraudis (f.): deceit
nequeo: to be unable to
ex hac (fraude)
commaculo (are):  to defile (i.e. te ipsum)
tango tetigi tactum: to touch
pix picis (f.): pitch, tar
vix: hardly
expurgo: to clean
ad unguem: till your nail (i.e. you will take over some of the bad character.)
cenosus (caenosus): muddy
quamvis: any whatever
tero trivi tritum: to tread upon
devito: to avoid
callis callis (m. and f.): foot-path
quo per sata pergas: in order to go through the fields
tracto (are): to handle, treat
careo ( + abl.): to be without
corripio corripui correptum: to snatch, seize
dando = dans
quo videas quod: where you see that
tribuo:  to give
posco poposci: to ask
itero: to travel (Mediaeval Latin)
insons insontis: innocent
hec = haec
fors: maybe
verso: to turn out
ast: but

For more information:

Those  able to read German should click on the German language in this link.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Ovid, Ibis: what to say to someone whom you dislike.

It is unknown who the Ibis in Ovid’s poem Ibis is, but we all know people to whom we would gladly apply the curses and invectives with which this work is abounding. One reason for wrestling with an unhappy life is an ominous constellation of sun, moon and stars at one’s birth and according to Ovid, Ibis was born under such an unfortunate condition and he rubs it in with jealous making verbal virtuosity. We less gifted mortals can only learn these lines by heart and whenever we find someone we dislike in unhappy circumstances, recite it to our satisfaction.

Ovidius, Ibis, 207-222

Natus es infelix, - ita di voluere - nec ulla
     commoda nascenti stella levisve fuit.               210
Non Venus affulsit, non illa Iuppiter hora,
     lunaque non apto solque fuere loco,
nec satis utiliter positos tibi praebuit ignes
     quem peperit magno lucida Maia Iovi.
Te fera nec quicquam placidum spondentia Martis               215
     sidera presserunt falciferique senis.
Lux quoque natalis, ne quid nisi triste videres,
     turpis et inductis nubibus atra fuit.
Haec est, in fastis cui dat gravis Allia nomen,
     quaeque dies Ibin, publica damna, tulit.               220
Qui simul impura matris prolapsus ab alvo
     Cinyphiam foedo corpore pressit humum,
sedit in adverso nocturnus culmine bubo,
     funereoque graves edidit ore sonos.

voluere = voluerunt
commodus: easy, freindly
(tibi ) nascenti
affulgeo affulsi: to shine on
fuere = fuerunt
praebeo praebui praebitum: to give, offer, supply
(is), quem: i.e. Mercury, son of Maia and Jupiter
pario peperi partum: to give birth
lucida Maia:  Maia is one of the seven Pleiades
ferus: fierce
nec quicquam placidum spondentia: promising nothing peaceful
Martis sidera: honorific plural = Martis sidus = Mars
falciferi senis: and (the stars) of the sickle bearing old man. The old man is Saturn, who is often depicted with a sickle, with which he cuts away time.
lux natalis = dies natalis
ne quid nisi triste videres: in order that you would see nothing but sorrowful
turpis:  sombre, sad
induco induxi inductum: to bring, gather
ater atra atrum: black
haec est (dies), cui…et quae
fasti fastorum: list of official days, calendar
Allia: on June 18 or 18 in 387 or 390 BC the Romans were defeated by the Gauls near the banks of the river Allia. Subsequently the Gauls took in Rome. Hence dies alliensis `unlucke day’.
publica damna: a public disaster
tulit: brought to light, brought forth
simul: as soon as
impura: some editiors prefer the reading inpurae.
prolabor prolapsus sum: to slip
alvus (f!): womb
Cyniphius: African
foedus: repulsive, ugly
pressit humum: after the birth, the child was put on the ground. Once lifted up by the father it was recognized as legitimate.  This implication is of course that Ibis was not a legitimate child.
culmen culminis (n.): top (of a tree or a house)
bubo bubonis  (m.): owl
funereo ore: with a funeral voice
edo edidi editum: to bring forth, utter


Saturn by Polidoro da Caravaggio (c. 1499 – 1543)

Translation by A.S. Klyne (2003)

You were born unfortunate (the gods willed it so),
and no star was kind or beneficent at your birth.
Venus did not shine, nor Jupiter, in that hour,
neither Moon nor Sun were favourably placed,
nor did Mercury, whom that bright Maia bore
to great Jove, offer his fires in any useful aspect.
Cruel Mars that promises no peace, lowered down,
and that planet of aged Saturn, with his scythe.
And the day of your birth was dark and impure,
overcast with cloud, so you would only see sadness.
This is the day to which, in our history, the fatal
Allia gives it name: Ibis’s day brought ruin to our people.
As soon as he’d fallen from his mother’s foul
womb, his vile body lay on Cinyphian soil,
a night-owl sat over against him on the heights,
and uttered dire sounds in a funereal voice,.