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)

Leucono√ę , 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.