Monday, 14 May 2018

Eugenius Toletanus: illness and old age.

Top of Form
Some time ago I bought `A History of Latin Secular Poetry in the Middle Ages’, by F.J.E. Raby. It contains a wealth of information and poems of which many, buried in dusty editions, are hardly read. One such poem is this one by Bishop Eugenius Toledo (647 - 657). It forms the concluding part of a fairly long poem in which he laments his ill health and old age. This poem is written in various meters and the final part is Sapphic. Eugenius was in his time an important leader of the Spanish church and also writer of prose and poetry. He must have been well read by later scholars and his poetry is a bridge between classical poetry and the poetry of the Carolinian Renaissance. As no translation of this poem can be found on internet – and I doubt whether it has ever been translated – I have made my own. Of course it does not pretend to have any literary merit.

Eugenius Toletanus, poem 14, 81 - 100.

Nosse quicumque cupis aut requiris,
Quae mei causa fuerit laboris,
Huius ut uitae mala funerarem,
Disce benigne.

Dum quaterdenos simul et nouenos
Vita non felix agitaret annos
Dumque me pigra peteret senectus
Praepete cursu,

Accidit lasso grauis aegritudo,
Quae ferae mortis minitaret ictum
Ac diu fessa cruciaret acri
Membra dolore.

Febris incerta terebrabat ossa,
Languida morbis caro defluebat,
Nulla quassatum recreabat esca,
Potio nulla.

Tanta me crebro mala dum ferirent,
Mortis horrendae trepidus pauore
Labilem cursum fugientis aeui
Carmine planxi.

nosse: novisse
cupio cupivi cupitum: to desire, wish
requiro requisivi requisitum: to search for, ask
funero (-are): to bury (He buries the evils of his body, while his soul will go to heaven, he hopes.)
disco didici: to learn
quaterdenus: fourteen
dum: the use of dum plus the subjunctive is not classical, but in Later Latin little distinction was made between cum and dum with the meaning `while’, `when’.
simul et: as well
agito (-are): to set in motion, keep going
piger: unwilling, tedious
peto petivi,  petii (-ere): strive for, rush at
praepes praepetis: swift
lassus: faint, weary, tired (mihi lasso)
aegritudo aegritudinis (f.): illness
minito (-are): to threaten (minitor is the classical verb)
ictus ictus (m.): blow, stroke
diu: all day, a long time
fessus: tired
crucio (-are): to torture, torment
febris febris (f.): fever
terebro (-are): to pierce
morbus: disease
quasso (-are): to shake, shatter, weaken (me quassatum)
esca: food
potio potionis (f.): drink
crebro: often
ferio (-ire): strike beat
pavor pavoris (m.): fear
aevum: eternity, (old) age
plango planxi planctum (-ere): to strike, lament,  bewail

If you, whoever you are, want to know or ask
what the reason was for my trouble
that I bury the evils of this life,
learn with kind mind.

While during fourteen and nine years
my life did not pass happily
and while tedious old age rushed at me
with rapid course,

came a grave illness to me, weary,
which threatened with the blow of a cruel death  
and for a long time tormented my tired limbs
with sharp pain.

A fever pierced my tired bones,
and weak flesh vanished by diseases.
No food recovered me, weakened,
Nor drink.

While such evils stroke me often,
I, trembling with fear for a cruel death,
lamented the feeble course of fleeing age
in a poem.