Sunday, 22 September 2013

Horace, Odes 1.33: Cheer up, Tibullus!



The poets Horace and Albius Tibullus knew each other well, so when Tibullus complained that his Glycera has left him for a younger man, Horace consoles him by pointing to the vicissitudes of Love. It is still a prominent subject: the pub I visit is often frequented by young women, talking to each other about who has left whom, and who has a new relationship. Sometimes they seek comfort with each other once a relationship has been broken and I have witnessed some dramatic scenes. In my observation men are far less likely to do the same in public.
Back to this poem: there is a problem: no Glycera is known from Tibullus love elegies. Nemesis and Delia were the women he loved and both these names are pseudonyms. What Horace does is making fun of pseudonyms and – I think – making fun of love elegies. This is a light hearted poem in which he both takes Tibullus and himself not too serious in rebus Veneris.

Meter: third asclepiad:  - - - uu-  -uu-ux (3x) and the last line - - - uu - ux

Horace Odes 1.33

Albi, ne doleas plus nimio memor
inmitis Glycerae neu miserabilis
decantes elegos, cur tibi iunior
     laesa praeniteat fide.

Insignem tenui fronte Lycorida               5
Cyri torret amor, Cyrus in asperam
declinat Pholoen: sed prius Apulis
     iungentur capreae lupis,

quam turpi Pholoe peccet adultero.
Sic uisum Veneri, cui placet imparis               10
formas atque animos sub iuga aenea
     saeuo mittere cum ioco.

Ipsum me melior cum peteret Venus,
grata detinuit compede Myrtale
libertina, fretis acrior Hadriae               15
     curuantis Calabros sinus.

ne doleas plus nimio: be not in pain too much
memor –oris (+ gen.): mindful, remembering
inmitis –is: not soft, harsh (contrary to Glycera, which means `sweet’)
miserabilis elegos = miserabiles elegos (It was thought that elegi was derived from Greek e legein `to lament’)
decanto: to sing (time and again, as the prefix de suggests)
elegi –orum (only plural): elegy
cur tibi iunior laesa praeniteat fide: because a younger man is more attractive than you (praeniteo + dat.), now love has been broken.
laesa fide = litt. faith being hurt  
torret amor: Amor makes x (acc,) burn for y (dat.)  
insignis –is: noted
tenui fronte: Lycoris was thus noted for her small forehead i.e a small distance between eyebrows and hair, which was a sign of beauty. The name, as the others, is fictitious.
Cyrus in asperam declinat Pholoen: Cyrus turns away (from Lycoris) to cruel Pholoe
caprea: a wild she-goat
Apulis lupis: Horace was born in Venusia, which is in Apulia. (Note the comma! The sentence continues.)
turpis: shameful
uisum Veneri: it pleases Venus. The expression is rather pompous and has a sacral-religious touch, which makes what follows even more funny.
imparis formas: `The predilection of tall men for short women and vice versa is supposed to be an established fact.’ Thus T.E. Page in his commentary of 1895. But why have girls of about 1,80 – not that uncommon here in the Netherlands –   mostly taller boy friends? So far the established facts of the Victorian age.
sub iuga aenea: a yoke of bronze is even more unpleasant than a yoke of wood Of course in reality no yoke of bronze exists .
melior Venus: a higher mistress (in opposite to libertina: a freedwoman)
peto: to strife for
grata detinuit compede Myrtale libertina:  Myrtale held me with a pleasing chain. (A compes was a feet-chain worn by slaves.)
libertine fretis acrior Hadriae  curuantis Calabros sinus: a feedwoman more tempestuous than the Adriatic Sea curving the Gulf of Calabria. (i.e. the Gulf of Naples.)


Translation by John Conington (1863):


     What, Albius! why this passionate despair
       For cruel Glycera? why melt your voice
     In dolorous strains, because the perjured fair
         Has made a younger choice?
     See, narrow-brow'd Lycoris, how she glows
       For Cyrus! Cyrus turns away his head
     To Pholoe's frown; but sooner gentle roes
         Apulian wolves shall wed,
     Than Pholoe to so mean a conqueror strike:
       So Venus wills it; 'neath her brazen yoke
     She loves to couple forms and minds unlike,
         All for a heartless joke.
     For me sweet Love had forged a milder spell;
       But Myrtale still kept me her fond slave,
     More stormy she than the tempestuous swell
         That crests Calabria's wave.

Monday, 16 September 2013

A warning for women concerning their dress.



Caesarius of Heisterbach (c. 1180 -1240) collected a large body of miracle stories in his Dialogus miraculorum. These stories were set as a dialogue between a monk and a novice and were intended to instruct novices. The following story is about a woman attending church in a far too pompous dress. So pompous that little devils are jumping on the train of her dress. The parish priest celebrating mass with his flock decides to take action…
Next time when I see a woman in pompous dress, I will look with different eyes and see little devils all over her!

The monk tells:

Caesarius of Heisterbach, Dialogus miraculorum V.7

Retulit mihi quidam civis honestus, asserens suis temporibus Maguntiae, si bene memini, hoc quod dicturus sum contigisse veraciter. Die quadam Dominica, cum sacerdos in ecclesia, cuius erat plebanus, circumiret, et aqua benedicta populum aspergeret, ad ostium ecclesiae veniens, matro-
nam quandam pompatice venientem, et ad similitudinem pavonis variis ornamentis pictam obviam habuit. In cuius cauda vestimentorum , quam trahebat post se longissimam, multitudinem daemonum residere conspexit. Erant enim parvi ut glires, nigri sicut Aethyopes, ore cachinnantes, manibus plaudantes, et sicut pisces intra sagenam conclusi saltantes. Revera ornatus muliebris sagena diaboli est. Quod ut vidit, daemonum quadrigam foris exspectare fecit; plebem advocavit,
daemones ne fugerent adiuravit. Territa iiia stetit, et ut visiones populus videre mereretur, quia vir bonus ac iustus fuit, orationibus obtinuit. Intelligens mulier ob vestimentorum superbiam sic se a daemonibus derisam, domum rediit, vestimenta mutavit, et tam ipsi quam ceteris feminis
eadem visio occasio facta est humilitatis.


refero – retuli – relatum: to tell
assero: to assert
Maguntiae: at Mainz
contigisse veraciter: truly happened
dies Dominica: Sunday (note the gender: dies is normally masculine in Classical Latin.)
plebanus: priest
aqua benedicta (abl!): holy water
aspergo aspersi aspersum: to sprinkle
matronam… obviam habuit: he encountered a woman
pompatice: in a pompous way
pavo pavonis (f.): peacock
cauda vestimentorum: litt. the tail of her clothing: train.
glis gliris: hazel dormouse (a small kind of mouse)
cachinno: to laugh loudly
sagena: a large fishing-net
salto: to jump
revera: truly
ornatus –us (m.): splendid dress
daemonum quadrigam foris exspectare fecit: he ordered (fecit) the `chariot of demons’  to wait outside (That is outside the church. Quite convenient for the demons that that lady stood at the entrance.)
plebem advocavit, daemones ne fugerent adiuravit = plebem advocavit et adiuravit daemones ne fugerent
advoco: to call nearby
adiuro: to swear, adjure (this word is used in exorcising) 
et ut visiones populus videre mereretur, quia vir bonus ac iustus fuit, orationibus obtinuit = et orationibus obtinuit, quia vir bonus ac iustus fuit ur populus mereretur visiones videre: and he obtained by prayers…. that the people were worthy (mereretur) to see the appearances (As a priest he could see devils, but other people not.)
superbia: haughtiness
derido - derisi - derisum: to make ridiculous
et tam ipsi quam ceteris feminis eadem visio occasio facta est humilitatis: (litt.) and that very same appearance was both for her and the other women was made an occasion for humility.

Of course the novice was deeply impressed by this story!