Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Tibullus (Lygdamus) 3.1: do you still love me?

There is now general consensus amongst scholars that book 3 and 4 of Tibullus’ elegies are by other hands: book 4 by Sulpicia and 3, 1-6 by Lygdamus. Little to nothing is known about Lygdamus, except may be his birthdate: 43 BC., which can be reconstructed from elegy 3.5.17, but this might well be a mystification of the author. A Lygdamus is clearly a pseudonym, as well the name of his wife or mistress Naeara, there is no solution for identifying the real author.
The elegies of book 3 are considered of less literary merit than those by Tibullus himself and were it not that at an early point in the manuscript tradition they were included in the corpus of Tibullus, they would probably not have come down to the present day.
Elegy 1 addresses Naeara at the Matronalia, a festival celebrating motherhood and married women in general. This festival took place at March 1, the original Roman New Year.  Processions were all over the town and husbands and daughters gave gifts to their wife and mother. Lygdamus decides to send a book (or rather scroll) to Neaera, containing his poems, though as it is not certain whether this woman is real or just fiction, it need not be that this role contained the present poems. His description of this book has roused the interest of historians, as hardly any book role has survived antiquity. Unfortunately, his description is far from clear as he mainly uses phrases from other poets, giving more authority to poetic embellishment than to clarity.
The text is corrupt and the manuscripts offer a variety of readings. Often such texts are left out in anthologies and curricula, but it can do no harm to include such a text now and then as an illustration of the difficulties of constituting a text.
Note: I have used the edition of Tränkle (Berlin. 1990) and Navarro (Leyden, 1996).

Tibullus 3.1

Martis Romani festae uenere kalendae
    - exoriens nostris hic fuit annus auis -
et uaga nunc certa discurrunt undique pompa
    perque uias urbis munera perque domos.
Dicite, Pierides, quonam donetur honore               5
    seu mea, seu fallor, cara Neaera tamen.
Carmine formosae, pretio capiuntur auarae:
    gaudeat, ut digna est, uersibus illa meis.
Lutea sed niueum inuoluat membrana libellum,
    pumex et canas tondeat ante comas,               10
summaque praetexat tenuis fastigia chartae
    indicet ut nomen littera facta tuum,
atque inter geminas pingantur cornua frontes:
    sic etenim comptum mittere oportet opus.
Per uos, auctores huius mihi carminis, oro               15
    Castaliamque umbram Pieriosque lacus,
ite domum cultumque illi donate libellum,
    sicut erit: nullus defluat inde color.
Illa mihi referet, si nostri mutua cura est,
    an minor, an toto pectore deciderim.               20
Sed primum meritam larga donate salute
    atque haec submisso dicite uerba sono:
"Haec tibi uir quondam, nunc frater, casta Neaera,
    mittit et accipias munera parua rogat,
teque suis iurat caram magis esse medullis,               25
    siue sibi coniunx siue futura soror;
sed potius coniunx: huius spem nominis illi
    auferet extincto pallida Ditis aqua."

venere = venerunt
kalendae: the first day of the month. The kalendae of March was the first day of the year, till under Caesar the beginning of the year was set at the first of January.
exoriens annus: the beginning of a year
avus: grandfather, forefather
et vaga nunc certa = nunc vaga et certa
vagus: roaming
certus: orderly
pompa: procession
undique: everywhere
munera: new year’s gifts
Pierides: the Muses
seu…sue = sive…sive
fallor: to err
tamen: at least
formosus: beautiful
pretium: money
avarus: greedy
luteus: golden-yellow
niveus: snow-white
involvo involvi involutum: to envelope
membrana: parchment, covering (here a kind of covering for the libellum  protecting the papyrus from damage,)
pumex – icis (m.): pumice-stone (used to shave (tondeo totondi tonsum) the hair (coma) on parchment.)
canus: white
ante: (adv.) before
summaque praetexat tenuis fastigia chartae indicet ut nomen littera facta tuum =  et littera facta praetexat summa fastigia tenuis chartis ut indicet nomen tuum
praetexo –texui –tectum: to border, cover (i.e. a word (littera) is written on the highest top (summa fastigia, poetic plural) of the soft parchment (tenuis chartae)
cornua: (probably) the curved ends of the stick around which books were rolled, usually ornamented with ivory (The word is rare in this context: the normal word for a stick around which a book role was wound is umbilicus.)
atque inter geminas pingantur cornua frontes: a much discussed verse: The frontes are the top and bottom  margin, but what to do with inter? And what is meant exactly? The most easy solution is the read geminae (dubble), meaning that both margins are illustrated.
etenim: indeed
como compsi comptum: ta arrange, adorn
auctores: the Muses
per…Castaliamque umbram Pieriosque lacus: along the Castalian shadow and the Pierian spring (Castellia and Pieria were a wood and a spring at mount Parnassus and sacred to the Muses.)
domum: of Naeara
cultum = comptum
defluat color: i.e. fade away
referet: can’t be right: either referat (so Tränkle in his edition) or referte (the edition of Navarro)
Illa mihi referat/ referte, si nostri mutua cura est,   an minor, an toto pectore deciderim: she must tell me (or: you must tell me) whether our love is (still) mutual, or that it is less, or that I have fallen from her (your) whole heart.
meritam: she who deserves it
larga donate salute:  difficult phrase: a solemn formula for plurimam salutem dicere ` (say much greeting to her)
submisso sono: in a low voice
haec: with munera parva
uir quondam, nunc frater: i.e. they had no sexual relationship any longer
et accipias munera parua rogat = et rogataccipias munera parua
teque suis iurat caram magis esse medullis: and he swears that you are more (to him) than his own heart (medulla: marrow, inmost part, heart)
huius spem nominis: i.e. coniunx
huius spem nominis illi auferet extincto pallida Ditis aqua: the pale water of the Underworld will take away the hope for this name from him when he is dead.

Translation by by THEODORE C. WILLIAMS (1908)

  Now the month of Mars beginning brings the merry season near,
  By our fathers named and numbered as the threshold of the year.
  Faithfully their custom keeping, through the wide streets to and fro,
  Offered at each friendly dwelling, seasonable gifts must go.
  O what gifts, Pierian Muses, may acceptably be poured
  On my own adored Neaera?—or, if not my own, adored!

  Song is love's best gift to beauty; gold but tempts the venal soul;
  Therefore, 'tis a song I send her on this amateurish scroll.
  Wind a page of saffron parchment round the white papyrus there,
  Polish well with careful pumice every silvery margin fair:

  On the dainty little cover, for a title to the same
  Let her bright eyes read the blazon of a love-sick poet's name.
  Let the pair of horn-tipped handles be embossed with colors gay,
  For my book must make a toilet, must put on its best array.

  By Castalia's whispering shadow, by Pieria's vocal spring,
  By yourselves, O listening Muses, who did prompt the song I sing,—
  Fly, I pray you, to her chamber, and my pretty booklet bear,
  All unmarred and perfect give it, every color fresh and fair:
  Let her send you back, confessing, if our hearts together burn;
  Or, if she but loves me little, or will nevermore return.
  Utter first, for she deserves it, many a golden wish and vow;
  Then deliver this true message, humbly, as I speak it now.

  'Tis a gift, O chaste Neaera, from thy husband yet to be.
  Take the trifle, though a "brother" now is all he seems to thee.

  He will swear he loves thee dearer than the blood in all his veins;
  Whether husband, or if only that cold "sister" name remains.
  Ah! but "wife" he calls it: nothing takes this sweet hope from his soul!
  Till a hapless ghost he wanders where the Stygian waters roll.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Pliny: fire-brigades.

Pliny (61-113) spent his final years as imperial governor of Bithynia and Pontus, a Roman province located in Anatolia on the Black Sea. Pliny was, as we know, a prolific writer of letters and, more important, being convinced of his qualities as an author, he published these letters. Book x of his collection of letters consists of the correspondence between him and Trajan and it gives a unique insight into the daily problems of running a province. With his collection of letters Pliny has done historians a great favour and readers Latin in general.
In letter 10.33 he describes a fire at Nicomedia and the inertia of the population to do anything to curb that fire. Fires were not uncommon in cities and as wood was often used as building material, a fire could easily spread. Pliny noticed that the population did nothing to curb the fire and he blames this on the fact that no equipment was available. However, there were often social tensions between the rich and the poor and the latter were unlikely to help when a rich part of the city was on fire. Pliny asked Trajan if he approves the institution of a fire-brigade, made up of volunteers. Trajan thinks this not a good idea, as such a brigade could well be a cover-up for illegal actions against the Romans. Better a city on fire than riots!

Pliny, Letters, 10, 33

C. Plinius Traiano Imperatori
Cum diversam partem provinciae circumirem, Nicomediae vastissimum incendium multas privatorum domos et duo publica opera, quamquam via interiacente, Gerusian et Iseon absumpsit. [2] Est autem latius sparsum, primum violentia venti, deinde inertia hominum quos satis constat otiosos et immobiles tanti mali spectatores perstitisse; et alioqui nullus usquam in publico sipo, nulla hama, nullum denique instrumentum ad incendia compescenda. Et haec quidem, ut iam praecepi, parabuntur; [3] tu, domine, dispice an instituendum putes collegium fabrorum dumtaxat hominum CL. Ego attendam, ne quis nisi faber recipiatur neve iure concesso in aliud utantur; nec erit difficile custodire tam paucos.

Traianus Plinio
Tibi quidem secundum exempla complurium in mentem venit posse collegium fabrorum apud Nicomedenses constitui. Sed meminerimus provinciam istam et praecipue eas civitates eius modi factionibus esse vexatas. Quodcumque nomen ex quacumque causa dederimus iis, qui in idem contracti fuerint, hetaeriae eaeque brevi fient. [2] Satius itaque est comparari ea, quae ad coercendos ignes auxilio esse possint, admonerique dominos praediorum, ut et ipsi inhibeant ac, si res poposcerit, accursu populi ad hoc uti.

diversus: distant
provinciae: Bithynia
circumeo: to travel around
Nicomediae: locative! At Nicomedia (modern Ismit)
incendium: fire
privatus: individual
via interiacente: streets were often not wide enough to stop a fire
Gerusian: a building where the gerusia –a body of elders – had is meetings
Iseon: temple of Isis
absumo absumsi absumptum: to destroy
(incendium) est
spargo sparsi sparsum: to spread
violentia, inertia: ablatives
quos satis constat: of who it is sufficient to say that
otiosus: idle, doing nothing
presto perstiti: to stand firm, remain on one’s place
alioqui: besides
sipo (sipho) siponis (m.): a kind of fire engine
hama: fire bucket
compesco compescui: to repress, curb
praecipio praecepi praeceptum: to instruct
paro: to provide
dispicio dispexi dispectum: to consider
collegium fabrorum: a guild of craftsmen (= firemen. In Italy and the Western provinces there were associations of craftsmen, which were also used as fire-brigades. Such collegia were unknown in the Greek provinces.)
dumtaxat: at least
nisi faber: collegia could also be a cover-up for a secret society with anti-Roman purposes
neve iure concesso in aliud utantur: or that they don’t use the granted right (of being a collegium) for something else

secundum exempla complurium (civitatum): As other cities had such fire-brigades too
constituo constitui constitutum: to establish (constitui: pass inf!)
praecipue: especially
factio factionis (f.): faction, party
vexo: to harass
contractus: assembled
hetaeria: brotherhood, fraternity
brevi (tempore)
comparo: to provide
ea (instumenta)
auxilio: dative of purpose: for aid/ as aid
praedium: real estate
inhibeo inhibui inhibitum: to hold back, keep in storage (the instruments for fire-fighting are meant. Indeed, it would be more effective to have these placed around the city, than at a central store, which would hamper a quick transport to the place of fire.)
posco poposci (-ere): to demand
accursus –us (m.): onrush

Translated by J.B.Firth (1900)

[33] L   To Trajan.

While I was visiting a distant part of the province a most desolating fire broke out at Nicomedia and destroyed a number of private houses and two public buildings, the almshouse and temple of Isis, although a road ran between them. The fire was allowed to spread farther than it need have done, first, owing to the violence of the wind, and, secondly, to the laziness of the inhabitants, it being generally agreed that they stood idly by without moving and merely watched the catastrophe. Moreover, there is not a single public fire-engine or bucket in the place, and not one solitary appliance for mastering an outbreak of fire. However, these will be provided in accordance with the orders I have already given. But, Sir, I would have you consider whether you think a guild of firemen, of about 150 men, should be instituted. I will take care that no one who is not a genuine fireman should be admitted, and that the guild should not misapply the charter granted to it, and there would be no difficulty in keeping an eye on so small a body.

[34] L   Trajan to Pliny.

You have conceived the idea that a guild of firemen might be formed in Nicomedia on the model of various others already existing. But it is to be remembered that your province of Bithynia, and especially city states like Nicomedia, are the prey of factions. Whatever name we may give to those who form an association, and whatever the reason of the association may be, they will soon degenerate into secret societies. It is better policy to provide appliances for mastering conflagrations and encourage property owners to make use of them, and, if occasion demands, press the crowd which collects into the same service.