Monday, 5 August 2019

Horace 3.18: an invitation to Faunus.

Thanks to his benefactor Maecenas, Horace was owner of a small estate. In this function he had to officiate in ceremonies and this poem is a prayer to the rural god Faunus. This god belongs to the oldest strata of Roman religion and mythology, but as usual, the Romans equated this god with the Greek god Pan. This is evident from the first line as chasing fleeing nymphs was clearly a characteristic of Pan. Nowadays Pan would have been chased and charged for harassing nymphs.
As for the belief in such rural deities and spirits: some weeks ago I was walking with some friends on the hills accompanying the river Rhine. It was very hot and there were no other hikers. In the distance there was a ruin of a mediaeval castle. I wouldn’t have been surprised had there suddenly been a wood spirit or a nymph – or even Lorelei herself combing her golden hair.

Horatius, Carmina, 3.18 (meter:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapphic_stanza)

Faune, Nympharum fugientum amator,
per meos finis et aprica rura
lenis incedas abeasque parvis
     aequus alumnis,

si tener pleno cadit haedus anno               5
larga nec desunt Veneris sodali
vina craterae, vetus ara multo
     fumat odore.

Ludit herboso pecus omne campo,
cum tibi Nonae redeunt Decembres,               10
festus in pratis vacat otioso
     cum bove pagus;

inter audacis lupus errat agnos,
spargit agrestis tibi silva frondes,
gaudet invisam pepulisse fossor               15
     ter pede terram.

apricus: sunny
lenis: gentle
aequus: with good will (lenis.,.aequus: note the chiastic construction.)
incedas abeasque: may you enter and leave
rus ruris (n.): lands, field, estate
alumnus: litt. `that is nourished’, here a young animal
haedus: young goat, kid
pleno anno: at the full year = at the end of the year (from line 10 it is clear that Faunus was honoured at December 5.)
larga vina: large quantities of wine (both for libations and consumption.)
desum: to lack
craterae Veneris sodali: (lack) for  the mixing bowl, the companion of Venus. Veneris sodali is in apposition to craterae. Wine and love go of course closely together.
ara: altar
herbosus: grassy
nonae nonarum: the 5th day of every month, except March
pratum: meadow
vaco: to be at leasure
otiosus: unemployed, idle (otiose bove, as in December no land is ploughed and no calves are borne.)
pagus: the country people
audacis agnos: the idea of a wolf wandering among lambs, who need to be audacious for this occasion, marks the transition from the description of a festive rural community to mythical entry of Faunus into the festivities. It also refers back to lines 3-4: thanks to the presence of Faunus the lambs will not be harmed
spargo sparsi sparsum: to strew
agrestis frondes: rural foliage (in autumn the leaves fall and thus form a carpet for Faunus
fossor fossoris (m.): ditch-digger (the humblest of agricultural workers.)
invisus: detested (invisam terram, because cultivating the earth requires so much labour.)
pello pepulli pulsum: to strike, beat (pepulisse ter pede: folk-dances and religious dances  had a triple beat. Note that Horace with some irony has put the ditch-digger into the front of the festive folk: he enjoys specially trampling the earth which costs him so much labour.)

                                                                                                                                    
Translation by A.S. Klyne.

Faunus, the lover of Nymphs who are fleeing,
may you pass gently over my boundaries,
my sunny fields, and, as you go by, be kind
to all my new-born,

if at the end of the year a tender kid
is sacrificed to you: if the full bowls of wine,
aren’t lacking, friend of Venus: the old altar
smoking with incense.

All the flock gambols over the grassy plain,
when the fifth of December returns for you:
the festive village empties into the fields,
and the idle herd:

the wolf wanders among the audacious lambs:
for you the woods, wildly, scatter their leaves:
the ditcher delights in striking the soil he
hates, in triple time.

 File:Pieter Bruegel de Oude - De bruiloft dans (Detroit).jpg


Pieter Breughel the Elder, The Wedding Dance (ca. 1566). Though not exactly a Roman setting, it is clearly rural feast.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Carmina Cantabrigiensia 14: an unfaithful wife.


The Carmina Cantabrigiensia or Cambridge Songs is a collection of texts preserved in Cambridge, but probably written in Canterbury around 1050. The content however is Southern German. For details see the link below.
This song tells the story of a woman from Swabia, an area in Southern Germany, who get pregnant after her husband, a merchant, went away for a couple of years. When he returns she tells him that she got pregnant by eating snow. A few years later the husband goes again away for trade and takes the boy with him. He sells the boy and when he returns he tells his wife that the child has melted away by the heat of the sun. This story must have been popular as various versions and translations exist. It has the structure of a sequentia, a hymn sung or recited during mass before the reading of the Gospel. This antithesis between formal structure and comic content is quite common in mediaeval poetry. Sacrilege? No, comic relief.



Advertite, omnes populi (CC 14)
Text after Strecker and with normalized spelling.

Advertite,                           pay attention
omnes populi,
ridiculum                            comic story
et audite, quomodo
Suevum mulier                  her Swabian husband
et ipse illam                      
defraudaret.                      cheated              

Constantiae                       Konstanz (city in Swabia)
civis Suevulus
trans aequora                    sea
gazam portans navibus   treasure
domi coniugem                 at home
lascivam nimis                   too playful/horny
relinquebat.                       left behind

Vix remige                          hardly, with oarsmen (remix singular as collective)
triste secat mare,             sails
ecce subito                        suddenly
orta tempestate              
furit pelagus,                     the sea rages
certant flamina,                lightning flashes
tolluntur fluctus,               the streams are rising high
post multaque exulem    
vagum litore
longinquo notus
exponebat.

And after many events the South wind put him as a wandering exile on a faraway shore.

Nec interim
domi vacat coniux;           stays alone
mimi aderant,                    mimusplayers
iuvenes sequuntur,
quos et immemor             not thinking of
viri exulis
excepit gaudens;              subject : the wife
atque nocte proxima      
praegnans filium
iniustum fudit                    delivers
iusto die.                            note the word play iniustum – iusto.         

Duobus
volutis annis                       two years having passed by
exul dictus
revertitur.
Occurrit                              meets
infida coniux
secum trahens
puerulum.
Datis osculis                       kiss
maritus illi                          husband
ʺDe quoʺ, inquit, ʺpuerum
istum habeas,
dic, aut extrema
patieris.ʺ                             or you will suffer severe beatings (extrema)

At illa
maritum timens
dolos versat                       applies deceit
in omnia.                           
ʺMiʺ, tandem,                   finally
ʺmi coniuxʺ, inquit            mi…mi, wordplay with mimi?
ʺuna vice                            once upon a time
in Alpibus nive sitiens       snow (nix nivis, f.)
exstinxi sitim.                    In the Alps thirsty I quenched my thirst with snow (
Inde ergo gravida             thence pregnant
istum puerum
damnoso fetu,                  in a terrible labour
heu, gignebam.ʺ               gave birth

Anni post haec quinque
transierant aut plus,         had passed by
et mercator vagus
instauravit remos;            he had renewed the oars
ratem quassam reficit,    repairs the shattered ship
vela alligat                         puts sails on
et nivis natum                    snow child
duxit secum.

Transfretato mari             to pass over
producebat natum           offered for sale
et pro arrabone                money
mercatori tradens            handing over to (another) merchant
centum libras accipit        pound
atque vendito                    sold
infante dives
revertitur.

Ingressusque domum      having entered
ad uxorem ait:
ʺConsolare, coniux,         comfort (me)
consolare, cara:
natum tuum perdidi,        I have lost
quem non ipsa tu
me magis quidem
dilexisti.                              whom you did certainly not love more than I did

Tempestate orta
nos ventosus furor           a rage full of wind
in vadosas syrtes              on shallow sandbanks
nimis fessos egit,              too tired, drove
et nos omnes graviter
torret sol, at il‐                  scorches
le nivis natus
liquescebat.ʺ                     melted away

Sic perfidam
Suevus coniugem
deluserat,                           deceived
sic fraus fraudem vicerat:              overcame
nam quem genuit             has brought forth
nix, recte hunc sol
liquefecit



Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Walter of Châtillon: On the murder of Thomas Becket.


When in 1170, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered at the instigation of King Henry II, the whole Western world was shocked. Initially both were close friends, but as the dispute between Rome and the kings of Europe about the ultimate authority heightened, Becket chose in 1164 the side of the Pope. Becket fled to France There was a kind of reconciliation in the summer of 1170 and Becket was allowed to return to Canterbury, but King Henry refused to give Becket a kiss as a sign of peace (stanza 2, 3-4). The dispute about authority was still not settled and kept lingering. "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?", is King henry reported to have said. Four knights took this as an order and in the evening of December 29 they forced themselves into Canterbury Cathedral and slew Becket in from of the altar.
Note: this is the very short version of this event.
The French poet Walter of Châtillon (1135 – 1190 or 1201) was furious and wrote this poem.


Orba suo pontifice
tristatur Cantuaria.
O monstrum gentis Anglicae
scribendum in historia,
quod stantem pro iustitia,
quod viventem canonice,
martyrizavit publice
tyranni violentia!
      O regio
digna res epitaphio!

orbus: bereaved
tristor: to mourn
monstrum: evil deed
quod: because
stantem, viventem: Becket
canonice: according to the rules of the Church
O regio etc: i.e. for defaming the royal epitaph of Henry II. Digna res is of course ironic.

Haec levis excusatio
quae praetendit ad populum :
`Dum osculum refugio,
quod pacis est signaculum,
proditionis iaculum
nequaquam’, inquit, `iacio’,
ac si non sit proditio,
quod non praecessit osculum!
O regio etc.

excusatio –ionis (f.) : excuse
dum = cum: because
osculum: kiss
proditio  -onis (f.): betrayal
iaculum: javelin
nequaquam: not at all
ac si non: and if it is not
praecedo –cessi –cessum: to precede

O quanto dignus fulmine
vel qua Megaera creditur!
Infausto natus omine,
cui scelus obicitur,
rex abusive dicitur
qui totus est in sanguine ;
sic emutato nomine
rex in tyrannum vertitur.
O regio etc.

O quanto: O how much
qua Megaera: of some Megaera (one of the Furies)
infaustus: unlucky
cui scelus obicitur: who is reproached for (such a) crime
abusive: wrongly
emutato nomine: the name being altered

In tota regum serie
quos habuit Brittania
ab antiqua barbarie
quae processit a Phrygia
pollutus hac infamia
numquam fuit rex Angliae,
in isto tribus regiae
degloriavit gloria.
O regio etc.

barbaries = barbaria
a Phrygia:  according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Brutus, cousin of Aeneas, was the first king of Britain (Phrygia is modern Turkey)
pullutus rex
in isto (rege)
tribus –us (f.): tribe, lineage
gloria: abl.

Vittae imbelles gerere
licebat priscis vatibus
et bellis non intendere
sacris sacratos usibus;
sed nunc moris est regibus
in pace pacem solvere
et suis pontificibus
Parcarum fila rumpere.
O regio etc.

vitta: headband
gero gessi gestum: to wear
priscus: of old
licebat…vatibus et sacratos plus an acc. cum inf. with sacratos (priests, clergymen) as acc. and sacris usibus as adverbial phrase (according to sacred customs). These two different constructions are for reasons of rhythm and rime.
intendo intendi intentum: to strive for (mostly constructed with acc, but here with dat.)
moris est: it is of practice  = it is practice
pacem solvere: to dissolve peace
Parcarum fila: the threads of the Parcae, the goddesses of fate
rumpo rupi ruptum: to break

 Afbeeldingsresultaat voor murder becket





Sunday, 2 June 2019

Carmina Burana 162: summer holliday.


Within a few weeks students at universities will have their well-deserved holiday and can put their books aside for eight weeks. The end of an academic year is not only a relief for modern students, but also for their consocii in the Middle Ages. No wonder that a number of mediaeval student songs address this theme: time for Venus and Bacchus! The following song is an example of this, but unfortunately the melody is not or just poorly notated. Between the lines it gives us also a glimpse of the poor conditions of students. They had to pay cash for every lecture, so little money was left for food and drink. Only during the period the universities were closed they could afford wine: Bacchus instead of Neptune (= water) and away with tristis ieiunus! Till the university opens again…

Carmina Burana 162

O consocii,
quid vobis videtur?
quid negotii
nobis adoptetur?
leta Venus ad nos    iam ingredietur,
illam chorus Dryadum sequetur.

O vos socii,
tempus est iocundum,
dies otii
redeunt in mundum;
ergo congaudete,    cetum letabundum
tempus salutantes <ob>  iocundum.

Venus abdicans
cognatum Neptunum
venit applicans
Bachum oportunum,
quem dea pre cunctis    amplexatur unum,
quia tristem spernit et ieiunum.

His numinibus
volo famulari!
ius est omnibus,
qui volunt beari;
que dant eccellenti    populo scolari,
ut amet et faciat amari.

Ergo litteris
cetus hic imbutus
signa Veneris
militet secutus!
exturbetur autem    laicus ut brutus!
nam ad artem surdus est et mutus.

As a bonus this song in Middle-high German

162a

Svoziv vrowe min,
la mih des geniezen:
du bist min ovgenschin.
Venus wil mih schiezen!
nu la mih, chuniginne, diner minne niezen!
ia nemag mih nimmer din uerdriezen.

My sweet lady,
let my enjoy this;
you are the shine of my eyes.
Venus wants to shoot me!
Now let me, queen, have your love!
Yes, I can never have enough of you!

(may be lines 2 and 4 must be exchanged.)

consocius: fellow
quid vobis videtur: what are your plans (some scholars read nobis for vobis)
negotium: affair, business
adopto: to choose
ingredior ingressus: to approach
leta = laeta
chorus Dryadum: choire of Nymphs, i.e. a band of maids
iocundus: joyful
otium: leisure
cetus = coetus: a coming together, (sexual) union, company (so in 5.2)
letabundus: full of joy
ob must be inserted, both for metrical reasons and for making sense of tempus iocundum, so salutantes cetum letabundum ob tempus iocundum
abdico: reject
cognatus: kinsman
Neptunum: as the god of the sea, he is stand for water
applico: to join
oportunus: friendly
prae cunctis: above all others
amplexo: to embrace
sperno sprevi spretum (-ere): to despise
ieiunus: fasting (to be taken with tristem)
numen numinis (n.): god
famulor: to serve
beor: to be happy
que = quae
eccellenti = excellenti: thanks to their learning students and scholars felt superior to the uneducated masses, as is lo clear in stanza 5
imbutus: steeped in
signum: banner
exturbo (-are): to expel, thrust out
ut brutus: as being stupid
artem: i.e. the art of love
surdus: deaf



Thursday, 30 May 2019

Livy 1.7: stolen cattle.


When Romulus founded Rome, he sacrificed to various gods and also to Hercules at the very place where Hercules was said to have crossed the Tiber, after he had killed the giant Geryon and got hold of his cattle. But after he had driven the herd across the Tiber, he fell asleep and another giant, Cacus stole the most beautiful cows. In order to deceive Hercules, not the brightest anyway, Cacus drew those cows backwards at their tails, so Hercules, following their footprints, might think they had disappeared miraculously. Of course it ends well and Cacus is killed.
There is not a single trace in Greek mythology hinting that Hercules had ever visited Italia, but the Romans were very good in cultural appropriation, especially when it came to claiming Greek gods. Thus far Italy has never compensated Greece for this injustice.

Livius  1.7, 4-7

Herculem in ea loca Geryone interempto boves mira specie abegisse memorant, ac prope Tiberim fluvium, qua prae se armentum agens nando traiecerat, loco herbido ut quiete et pabulo laeto reficeret boves, et ipsum fessum via procubuisse. Ibi cum eum cibo vinoque gravatum sopor oppressisset, pastor accola eius loci, nomine Cacus, ferox viribus, captus pulchritudine boum cum avertere eam praedam vellet, quia, si agendo armentum in speluncam compulisset ipsa vestigia quaerentem dominum eo deductura erant, aversos boves, eximium quemque pulchritudine, caudis in speluncam traxit. Hercules ad primam auroram somno excitus cum gregem perlustrasset oculis et partem abesse numero sensisset, pergit ad proximam speluncam, si forte eo vestigia ferrent. Quae ubi omnia foras versa vidit nec in partem aliam ferre, confusus atque incertus animi ex loco infesto agere porro armentum occepit. Inde cum actae boves quaedam ad desiderium, ut fit, relictarum mugissent, reddita inclusarum ex spelunca boum vox Herculem convertit. Quem cum vadentem ad speluncam Cacus vi prohibere conatus esset, ictus claua fidem pastorum nequiquam invocans morte occubuit.

The first sentence is complicated and I have restructured it a bit to make it clear. However there is something more which is understandable in Latin, but difficult to translate: loco herbido is both the place where Hercules leads the cattle to and where they and he are resting: et ipsum `and he himself too’.
memorant, Geryone interempto, Herculem…abegisse ac (= et). Tiberim (qua…traiecerat)…, ut…reficeret,.. procubuisse
memorant: people remember/ it is said (both with abegisse and procubuisse)
in ea loca: i.e. the places where Romulus was sacrificing 
interimo interemo interemptus: to kill
mira specie: ablative of description, species = beauty
abigo abegi, abactum: to drive away
prope (+ acc.): near
qua: across which
armentum: cattle
prae se agens: driving before him
no: to swim
herbidus: grassy
pabulum: food, fodder
laetus: luxuriant
reficio refeci refectum: to restore, refresh
fessum via: tired by the journey
procumbo procubui procubitum (-ere): to fall down
cibus: food
sopor (m.): deep sleep
accola: a dweller nearby
cum captus
boum: gen. plur. of bos
eam praedam: it as booty
averto averti adversum: to take away
quia…traxit
spelunca: cave
compello compuli compulsum: to drive together
ipso vestigia eo deductura erant: the very footprints would lead to that place (deductura erant = deduxissent)
aversos boves: the cows turned the other way around
eximium quemque pulchritudine: apposition with boves
eximius: excelling, distinguished
cauda: tail
grex grecis (f.): herd
perlustro: to view all over, examine
forte: by chance
quae (vestigia)
foras versa: turned to the outside
infestus: inimical, hostile
porro: farther, further on
occipio occepi occeptum: to begin
actae: driven
ad desiderium relictarum: for longing for those left behind
mugio mugivi: to bellow
reddo reddidi redditum: to return
quem vadentem: him (= Hercules) going
conor conatus: to try
ico/icio ici ictus: to hit (in classical prose only the ppp is used)
clava: club
fidem: help
nequiquam: in vain
occombo occubui occubitum: to fall in death

 Translation by H.G. Bohn (1853) (note that this translation takes some liberties.)

There is a tradition, that Hercules, having killed Geryon, drove his oxen, which were extremely beautiful, into those places; and that, after swimming over the Tiber, and driving the cattle before him, being fatigued with travelling, he laid himself down on the banks of the river, in a grassy place, to refresh them with rest and rich pasture. When sleep had overpowered him, satiated with food and wine, a shepherd of the place, named Cacus, presuming on his strength, and charmed with the beauty of the oxen, wished to purloin that booty, but because, if he had driven them forward into the cave, their footsteps would have guided the search of their owner thither, he therefore drew the most beautiful of them, one by one, by the tails, backwards into a cave. Hercules, awaking at day-break, when he had surveyed his herd, and observed that some of them were missing, goes directly to the nearest cave, to see if by chance their footsteps would lead him thither. But when he observed that they were all turned from it, and directed him no other way, confounded, and not knowing what to do, he began to drive his cattle out of that unlucky place. Upon this, some of the cows, as they usually do, lowed on missing those that were left; and the lowings of those that were confined being returned from the cave, made Hercules turn that way. And when Cacus attempted to prevent him by force, as he was proceeding to the cave, being struck with a club, he was slain, vainly imploring the assistance of the shepherds.


Thursday, 23 May 2019

Horace, Odes 1 ix: carpe diem.


The expression carpe diem is well known, even amongst those without any further knowledge of Latin. It comes from a poem by Horace in which he is talking to his girlfriend Leuconoe (Greek: `empty head’, note that it is a fictitious name). The reader is put in medias res, as overhearing a conversation of which he has to guess the context. Apparently Leuconoe had asked about the future, maybe the future of their love, but Horace points out that we should not weary ourselves with such questions: pluck the day! Let’s hope for Horace that indeed his girlfriend stopped asking.

Horatius, Carmina 1, XI
Meter: greater asclepiad x x  - u u -  - u u -  - u u -  u -

Tu ne quaesieris (scire nefas) quem mihi, quem tibi
finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios
temptaris numeros. Ut melius quicquid erit pati!
Seu pluris hiemes seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam,
quae nunc oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare               
Tyrrhenum, sapias, vina liques et spatio brevi
spem longam reseces. Dum loquimur, fugerit invida
aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

ne quaesi(v)eris: stop asking (the subjunctive of the perfect is often used in prohibitions, as it had for the Romans a more polite ring than the subjunctive of the present.)
nefas: forbidden, impious
finem (vitae)
Babylonios numeros: Babylonian calculations (of the course of stars, thus astrology. Babylonian astrologers were seen as experts in their profession and though they were now and then banned, there was popular demand for their predictions. )
tempto/ tento:  to try, meddle (temptaris = temptaveris)
ut melius: how much better
pati: to endure
seu = sive
pluris = plures
hiemes: years could also be counted in summers or as here in winters (hiems). Counting in winters though has a sombre connotation and especially here, as the poem suggests that the conversation took place during a winter storm.)
ultimam (hiemem), quae:  here the meaning of hiems shifts to `winter storm’.
oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare Tyrrhenum; `makes the sea spend its strength on the confronting rocks’ (T.E. Page in his commentary). The image is thus: the storm makes the Thyrrenian sea beat against the rocks and so lessens (debilitat) its strength. The rocks are however of pumice, as the coastal rocks of Etruria where Horace lived actually are. Pumice is a soft stone, so the gulfs eat holes in it.  Probably storms and rocks are here metaphors for the conditio humana.  
sapias: be wise
vina liques: strain the wine (as wine had a lot of residue, it was poured out through a cloth or sieve.)
spatio brevi spem longam reseces: curtail your excessive hope into a short period (for living).
dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas: i.e. as long as we keep talking, we can’t enjoy life.
fugerit: will be gone
invida aetas: grudging time
quam minimum credula postero: trusting (credulus) as little as possible on the following day

Translation by A.S. Klyne (2003)

Leuconoë , don’t ask, we never know, what fate the gods grant us,
whether your fate or mine, don’t waste your time on Babylonian,
futile, calculations. How much better to suffer what happens,
whether Jupiter gives us more winters or this is the last one,
one debilitating the Tyrrhenian Sea on opposing cliffs.
Be wise, and mix the wine, since time is short: limit that far-reaching hope.
The envious moment is flying now, now, while we’re speaking:
Seize the day, place in the hours that come as little faith as you can.