Saturday, 27 February 2016

Propertius: allone in the woods.

A happy love-life is but seldom an inspiration for interesting poetry. Fortunately for us the relation between Propertius and Cynthia had its ups and downs and the next poem describes a very deep crisis: Cynthia has been unfaithful. In the loneliness of a wood Propertius is desperately wondering why: did Cynthia think he has a new girl (nova puella l.10)? Certainly not! Was there something in his appearance from which she could have inferred something (l.170? Didn’t he show his love and faithfulness enough (l.18)?
He even tells he stood in vain weeping for her closed door (l.24). And though not stated, I think Cynthia was having fun with her new lover, while Propertius was waiting for her to open the doors - which she of course didn’t.  Still, he wants her dearly back. Well, I would have turned away from her and look for a new girlfriend. Thus far no love poetry has appeared from my hand.

Propertius, 1,18

Haec certe deserta loca et taciturna querenti,
    et vacuum Zephyri possidet aura nemus.
hic licet occultos proferre impune dolores,
    si modo sola queant saxa tenere fidem.
unde tuos primum repetam, mea Cynthia, fastus?                 5
    quod mihi das flendi, Cynthia, principium?
qui modo felices inter numerabar amantes,
    nunc in amore tuo cogor habere notam.
quid tantum merui? quae te mihi crimina mutant?
    an nova tristitiae causa puella tuae?                 10
sic mihi te referas, levis, ut non altera nostro
    limine formosos intulit ulla pedes.
quamvis multa tibi dolor hic meus aspera debet,
    non ita saeva tamen venerit ira mea,
ut tibi sim merito semper furor, et tua flendo                 15
    lumina deiectis turpia sint lacrimis.
an quia parva damus mutato signa colore,
    et non ulla meo clamat in ore fides?
vos eritis testes, si quos habet arbor amores,
    fagus et Arcadio pinus amica deo.                 20
ah quotiens vestras resonant mea verba sub umbras,
    scribitur et teneris Cynthia corticibus!
ah tua quot peperit nobis iniuria curas,
    quae solum tacitis cognita sunt foribus!
omnia consuevi timidus perferre superbae                 25
    iussa neque arguto facta dolore queri.
pro quo continui montes et frigida rupes
    et datur inculto tramite dura quies;
et quodcumque meae possunt narrare querelae,
    cogor ad argutas dicere solus aves.                 30
sed qualiscumque's, resonent mihi 'Cynthia' silvae,
    nec deserta tuo nomine saxa vacent.

queror questus sum: to express grief
Zephyrus: Western wind
nemus nemoris (n.): wood grove
profero: to bring forward, utter
impune: unpunished
si modo: if only
queo quivi quitum: to be able
repeto repetivi repetirum: to find, uncover (i.e. the reason  for her disdain (fastus, -us m,)
principium: reason, cause
habere notam: a nota is a mark which the censores put at a name on the list of civilians , when someone had misbehaved, hence: punishment
mihi: concerning me
crimina: another reading is carmina (spells) adopted in the translation belw
causa tristitiae (unfriendliness) is predicate to nova puella
referas te: you can bring yourself back = you can return
levis: fickle-hearted
non altera ulla: not any other (girl)
quamvis…lacrimis: whatever this anguish of mine owes for you many painful things (i.e. in return for your fastus) my anger will still never become that raging, that I am rightly always (an object of) fury for you and that through crying your eyes will be ugly by falling tears.
mutato colore: by a change of complexion (some editors read: mutato calore : by a change of (love-) fire.)
et…fides:  i.e. that you cannot read my faithfulness in my face
fagus (f.):  beech-tree
Arcadio deo: Pan, for whom the pine-tree (pinus) was sacred
cortex cortices (f. and m.): bark
pario peperi partum: to bring forth, give birth
iniuria: unfaithful actions
tacitis foribus: to your silent doors (Propertius is thinking of standing in front of the house of Cynthia)
consuevi: I am used (the perfect tense implies a long period, still valid for the present)
tacitis foribus: to the silent doors (of Cynthia’s house)
superbae: of you, haughty girl
neque..queri:  nor to complain your deeds by loud grief
pro quo: as reward of that
continui montes (dantur): the manuscripts are corrupt here and various reading have been proposed: a range of mountains,  divini fontes or dumosi (bushy) montes
rupes rupes (f.): rock
inculto tramite: on an untrodden path (trames, f.)
querela: complaint
argutas aves: note that argutus has here a different meaning than in arguto doloro `twittering birds’
qualiscumque's:  whatever you are
tuo nomine vacent: will be free of your name

Translation by A.S. Klyne.

Truly this is a silent, lonely place for grieving, and the breath of the West Wind owns the empty wood. Here I could speak my secret sorrows freely, if only these solitary cliffs could be trusted.

To what cause shall I attribute your disdain, my Cynthia? Cynthia, what reason for my grief did you give me? I, who but now was numbered among the joyous, now am forced to look for signs of your love. Why do I merit this? What spell turns you away from me? Is some new girl the root of your anger? You can give yourself to me again, fickle girl, since no other has ever set lovely foot on my threshold. Though my sorrow’s indebted to you for much grief my anger will never be so fierce with you that rage could ever be justified in you or your weeping eyes be disfigured with falling tears.

Is it because I show few signs of altered complexion, and my faith does not cry aloud in my face? Beech-tree and pine, beloved of the Arcadian god, you will be witnesses, if trees know such passions. Oh, how often my words echo in gentle shadows and Cynthia is carved in your bark!

Oh! How often has your injustice caused me pains that only your silent threshold knows? I am used to suffering your tyrannous orders with diffidence, without moaning about it in noisy complaint. For this I win sacred springs, cold rocks, and rough sleep by a wilderness track: and whatever my complaint can tell of must be uttered alone to melodious birds.

Yet whatever you may be, let the woods echo ‘Cynthia’ to me, and let not the wild cliffs be free of your name.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Boethius book 1, m 7: clear your mind.

When in 1944 Helen Waddell (1889 – 1965) had almost finished the first draft of a manuscript for a second book of Mediaeval Lyrics, she began to have mental fall outs and lapses of memory, probably  due to brain strokes or dementia preacox. The book was published posthumously in 1976 with the effort of friends and scholars detecting sources and filling now and then a gap in the translation
This poem by Boethius concludes book 1 of his Consolatio Philosophiae, written in his cell and waiting for his death. Philosophia, a majestic woman, is speaking to him and encouraging him to clear his mind from passions in order to see the truth. The poem starts with three nature comparisons: like stars are hindered by dark clouds in spreading their light and the clear sea is made muddy by a storm and the course of a mountain river is sometimes stopped by a rock having strolled down from the top, so our mind is cloudy when still filled with passions.
But whereas Boethius in his imprisonment still had his mind as a resource and escape, Hellen Waddell was in her final years a prisoner of her own and once brilliant mind, with no possibility of escape.

Boethius,  Consolatio Philosophiae 1, m.7
(Meter: Adonic  - u u | - -)

nubibus atris                     ater: dark
condita nullum                 conditus: hidden
fundere possunt                fundo: to pour out, shed, spread
sidera lumen.
si mare uoluens                acc. !
turbidus Auster                 Auster: South Wind
misceat aestum,                 stirs up till a storm
uitrea dudum                     vitrea (unda): clear  / dudum: just, recently
parque serenis                    par + dat: equal to, resembling
unda diebus
mox resoluto
sordida caeno                    filthy by dissolved mud (caenum)
uisibus obstat,                   hampers (clear) vision
quique uagatur                  vagor: to roam, wander
montibus altis
defluus amnis
saepe resistit                     resisto: to stop, stand still
rupe soluti                         by a rock (rupes f.), a dam (obex f.) of a fallen stone
obice saxi
tu quoque si uis
lumine claro
cernere uerum,                  cerno: to discern / verum : the truth
tramite recto                      take your mountain path (calles) on a straight side-path(trames)
carpere callem:
gaudia pelle,                      pello: to cast out
pelle timorem
spemque fugato                fugato: 2nd sg fut imperat act
nec dolor adsit,
nubila mens est
uinctaque frenis                subdued by reigns (frenum)
haec ubi regnant.              haec: gaudia, timor et spes

Translation by Helen Waddell:

Stars hidden by dark clouds
  Can give no light,
If the South Wind stirs up the rolling sea.
  The wave that once was like crystal
  Clear as a shining day
Now fool with loosened mud
  Decieves the light.
The stream that strayed
  Down from the mountain top
Is dammed by fallen fragments of loose chalk.
And you, if you would look clear-eyed on truth,
  Would take the mountain track,
Be rid of joy and fear and hope and pain.
  The mind is fogged
  Held in with bit and reign
  When these have power.

More Latin Lyrics: From Virgil to Milton (posthumous, edited by Dame Felicitas Corrigan, 1976)

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Catullus 4: the best ship the seas have ever seen.

A sailor talks about his ship as a she, a woman more revered and trusted than his own wife, let alone the harlots waiting in every harbour. This has nothing to do with the gender of the noun `ship’. Of course English has ceased long ago to make a distinction, but in the Germanic languages which have preserved this classification, `ship’ is neuter.  It is simply out of deep affection and sentiment that a ship is considered a woman.
Did Roman sailors have such feelings too? Difficult to say, but as K. Quinn remarks `they were not insensible to the aesthetic appeal of a well-built ship.’ It reminds me of the love of Italians for beautiful cars. Catullus has made a poem on such aesthetic ship.  It starts like an epigram on a burial monument and gradually it tells the complete story: how it was once made of wood, how well it served his master and where it is now. It has been speculated that Catullus dedicated this poem to the ship he used traveling back from Asia Minor or that it was for a model of a ship, but either speculation is problematic. But maybe this multiple interpretation is the real strength of this poem. What to think of a ship not needing vows to protecting gods while in service and now in rest dedicated to the Dioscuri? Final gratefulness?
A parody on this poem is poem 10 in the Appendix Vergiliana.

Structure:            1 – 9: the ship is boasting about its former qualities
                              10 – 16: it tells where and from what it was made
                              17 - 22: its luck at sea
                              23 – 27: reflection and final destination

Catullus 4
Meter: iambic senarius (suggesting the quiet beat of an oar)

Phaselus ille, quem videtis, hospites,                       
ait fuisse navium celerrimus,
neque ullius natantis impetum trabis
nequisse praeterire, sive palmulis
opus foret volare sive linteo.                                      5
et hoc negat minacis Hadriatici
negare litus insulasve Cycladas
Rhodumque nobilem horridamque Thraciam
Propontida trucemve Ponticum sinum,
ubi iste post phaselus antea fuit                                 10
comata silva; nam Cytorio in iugo
loquente saepe sibilum edidit coma.
Amastri Pontica et Cytore buxifer,
tibi haec fuisse et esse cognitissima
ait phaselus: ultima ex origine                                    15
tuo stetisse dicit in cacumine,
tuo imbuisse palmulas in aequore,
et inde tot per impotentia freta
erum tulisse, laeva sive dextera
vocaret aura, sive utrumque Iuppiter                        20
simul secundus incidisset in pedem;
neque ulla vota litoralibus deis
sibi esse facta, cum veniret a mari
novissimo hunc ad usque limpidum lacum.
sed haec prius fuere: nunc recondita                        25
senet quiete seque dedicat tibi,
gemelle Castor et gemelle Castoris.

phaselus: a kind of long and fast ship. Phaselos is Greek for a long kind of bean,, so the ship is called after the shape of this bean.
hospites: the way passers-by of monuments are addressed
ait: the ship is speaking
neque…praeterire: and not to be able not to surpass the speed of any other floating ship. i.e. it easily could beat any other ship concerning speed. (note that the i in ullius is here short.)
trabs trabis (f.): beam and pars pro toto `ship’
palmula: oar
foret = esset
volare: to move fast
linteum: sail
negat: phasalus. Again the double negation:  denies that the shore of the threatening Adriatic denies this. i.e. the Adriatic shore and the places further mentioned know very well the virtues of this ship.
Rhodum nobilem: in Roman times Rhodes was already favoured destination for tourists.
Thraciam Propontida: Thracian Propontis (at the sea of Marmora)
trucem Ponticum sinum: the savage Pontic bay (or rather line of bays making an inhospitable coast)
iste post phaselus: that phaselus to be (namely a wood with leafs silva comata. coma `hair, leaf’)
Cytorio iugo: the Cytorus is a mountain in Paphlagonia (a rugged (iugum `rug’ mountainous country at the Black Sea)
loquente coma: with whispering leaf
edidit: phasalus
Amastris: city near Cytorus
buxifer: bearing box trees
tibi: though strictly referring to both vocatives
haec fuisse et esse cognitissima: this was and still is very well known (W, Kroll remarks in his commentary `fuisse et esse underscore the idleness of this self-eulogy’.)
ultima ex origine: from its first day (as trees)
cacumen cacumins (n.): top, summit
imbuo imbui imbutum: to make wet
impotentia freta: the wild seas
erus: master (not necessarily Catullus)
laeva sive dextera aura: i.e. the ship had to tack (adapting the sails to the wind and so setting not a straight course but zigzagging, which was quite difficult with the sails they had then.)
Juppiter secundus: a favourable wind
utrumque pedem: both sheets  (which were attached to the sail, so when the wind fell on both sheets, it was from behind and the ship had a straight course.)
litoralibus deis: for the gods of the sea (litus, litoris (m.): coast)
a mari novissimo: from its final voyage
limpidus:  limpid, bright, quiet
fuere = fuerunt
recondita: stored away (note that feminine navis is now the subject, not phaselus)
seneo: to be old
tibi: the twin (gemellus) Castor and Pollux  are addressed as one. They were the protectors of sailors.

Translation by Leonard C. Smithers (1894)

That pinnace which you see, my friends, says that it was the speediest of boats, that it could gain the lead of any craft skimming the surface, whether the task were to fly with oarblades or sail. And she denies that the shore of the menacing Adriatic denies this, or the Cyclades awkward [to navigate], or noble Rhodes and bristling Thracian Propontis, or the frim Pontic gulf, where she afterwards was a pinnace, beforehand was bearded forest; and often on Cytorus' ridge she gave out a rustling with speaking foliage. And you, Pontic Amastris, and to boxwood bearing Cytorus, the pinnace declares that this was and is most well-known to you; she says that from its origin it stood upon your topmost peak, dipped its oars in your waters, and bore its master from there through so many seas lacking self-control, whether the wind called from port or starboard or whether favorable Jove fell on both the sheets at once; and nor were any vows [from stress of storm] made be her to shore-gods, when she came from the most distant sea to this glassy lake. But these things were of before: now laid away, she grows old in peace and dedicates herself to you, twin Castor, and to Castor's twin.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Phaedrus 2.2: how a man can become bald.

I am not a iuvenis anymore, though in my dreams I am - or rather: I have some unspecified age, but younger than I actually am.  The following fable is a warning for those who are real young men.  As no animals appear in this fable, it is more an anecdote, but as the stress falls on the didactic example, it is a fable according to ancient ideas of literary classification.
A young man had two women as rivals for his love, one young and one old. Both start picking out his hair in order the make him resembling their respective age: the old woman dark hair, the young white. As often, we should not judge a fable for its logic: a young man having white hair and confusing plucking out his hair with caressing.
I have grey hair and only here and there other with a darker shade as a poor reminiscence of what the colour once was. A young woman would spend quite some time picking out my hair till I resemble more or less here age. Would I mind? Certainly not! Well Leo, keep dreaming.

Phaedrus 2.2. Anus Diligens Iuvenem, Item Puella.

A feminis utcumque spoliari viros,
ament, amentur, nempe exemplis discimus.
Aetatis mediae quendam mulier non rudis
tenebat, annos celans elegantia,
animosque eiusdem pulchra iuvenis ceperat.
ambae, videri dum volunt illi pares,
capillos homini legere coepere invicem.
qui se putaret fingi cura mulierum,
calvus repente factus est; nam funditus
canos puella, nigros anus evellerat.

diligo dilexi dilectum: to love
spolio: to rob
nempe: certainly
aetatis mediae with mulier
quendam (iuvenem, virum)
non rudis: i.e having experience
celo: to conceal
elegantia: i.e. by using make up
illi pares: equal to him (regarding their age)
lego: to pick out (as for the meaning `to read’: pick out letters. The German word for `to read’ is lesen (Dutch lezen). This word is in fact a loan translation of lego, as the original meaning of lesen is to pick out, gather.)
invicem: in turn
fingo finxi fictum: to touch (gently)
calvus: bald
repente: suddenly
funditus: completely
canus: white
evello evelli evolsum (evulsum):  to tear out

Translation by Christopher Smart (1913).

The Bald-pate Dupe
Fondling or fondled-any how-
(Examples of all times allow)
That men by women must be fleeced.
A dame, whose years were well increased,
But skill'd t' affect a youthful mien,
Was a staid husband's empress queen;
Who yet sequestered halt his heart
For a young damsel, brisk and smart.
They, while each wanted to attach
Themselves to him, and seem his match,
Began to tamper with his hair.
He, pleased with their officious care,
Was on a sudden made a coot;
For the young strumpet, branch and root,
Stripp'd of the hoary hairs his crown,
E'en as th' old cat grubb'd up the brown.