Thursday, 17 August 2017

Ovid: courting at the races.



Ovid’s Ars Amatoria is a collection of three poems devoted to how to win a woman. Due to its sometimes explicit descriptions, it has been controversial since its publication. Notwithstanding that, it was used as a school text during the Middle Ages. In this extract Ovid gives advice how to court a girl at the races. His tips are still useful.

Ovidius, Ars Amatoria 1,135-62

Nec te nobilium fugiat certamen equorum;               135
     multa capax populi commoda Circus habet.
Nil opus est digitis, per quos arcana loquaris,
     Nec tibi per nutus accipienda nota est:
proximus a domina, nullo prohibente, sedeto,
     iunge tuum lateri qua potes usque latus;               140
et bene, quod cogit, si nolis, linea iungi,
     quod tibi tangenda est lege puella loci.
Hic tibi quaeratur socii sermonis origo,
     Et moveant primos publica verba sonos.
Cuius equi veniant, facito, studiose, requiras:               145
     Nec mora, quisquis erit, cui favet illa, fave.
At cum pompa frequens caelestibus ibit eburnis,
     tu Veneri dominae plaude favente manu;
utque fit, in gremium pulvis si forte puellae
     Deciderit, digitis excutiendus erit:               150
Etsi nullus erit pulvis, tamen excute nullum:
     quaelibet officio causa sit apta tuo.
Pallia si terra nimium demissa iacebunt,
     collige, et inmunda sedulus effer humo;
protinus, officii pretium, patiente puella               155
     contingent oculis crura videnda tuis.
Respice praeterea, post vos quicumque sedebit,
     Ne premat opposito mollia terga genu.
Parva leves capiunt animos: fuit utile multis
     pulvinum facili composuisse manu.               160
profuit et tenui ventos movisse tabella,
     et cava sub tenerum scamna dedisse pedem.

Nec te fugiat certamen: let not the contest escape you
capax commoda: easily containing (+ gen.)
Nil opus est digitis: i.e. for making secret (arcana) signs
nutus, nutus (m.): nod, hint
nota: sign
proximus a: next to
sedeto: -to is the 2nd and 3rd imp. of the futurum
iunge tuum lateri qua potes usque latus = iunge tuum latus lateri usque qua potes: join your side to her side right on as far as you can
et bene, quod cogit, si nolis, linea iungi = et bene (est vos) linea (abl !) iungi, si nolis
linea: line (marked on the benches for separating the seats)
si nolis: even if you don’t want it
lege loci: by law of the place she sits (we all experiencethis when we are sitting in an overcrowded train or bus: we are touched by others and touche others by lege loci)
socii sermonis origo: the beginning of an informal chat
publica verba: common talk (i.e. don’t go at once into private matters!)
facito requiras: make that you ask
studiose: eagerly, studiously
mora: delay
faveo favi fauturus (+ dat.): to favour
pompa frequens: a crowded procession (befor beginning of a race a festive procession was held at which ivory images of gods (caelestibus eburnis) were carried, amongst these also one of Venus)
gremium: lap
etsi: albeit
pulvis pulveris (m.): dust
decido decidi: to fall down
excutio excussi excussum: to remove
officium: service
pallia si (in) terra nimium demissa iacebunt: when the mantle to much hanging down is lying on the ground (the plural is either used for the singular or it denotes a frequent occurrence – with various girls of course. Likewise tergum `back’ in line 158 and scamna in 162. The description is like a scene from some movie.)
immundus: dirty (immunda pallia)
sedulus: careful, sedulous
effer humo: lift from the ground
protinus: immediately
patiente puella: if the girl permits
contigo contigi contactum (+ dat.): to touch, fall upon
crura videnda: her visible legs (litt. `her legs to be seen’)
opposite genu: with his opposing knee
mollis mollis: soft, gentle
parva leves: small things, small gestures
pulvinum compono: to arrange a cushion
tenuis: small, elegant
tabella: fan
cava scamna: a scamnun is a stool and here probably a small  foot-bench, hollow (cavus) for the comfort of the feet.

                                                              
Translation by A.S. Klyne.

Don’t forget the races, those noble stallions:
the Circus holds room for a vast obliging crowd.
No need here for fingers to give secret messages,
nor a nod of the head to tell you she accepts:
You can sit by your lady: nothing’s forbidden,
press your thigh to hers, as you can do, all the time:
and it’s good the rows force you close, even if you don’t like it,
since the girl is touched through the rules of the place.
Now find your reason for friendly conversation,
and first of all engage in casual talk.
Make earnest enquiry whose those horses are:
and rush to back her favourite, whatever it is.
When the crowded procession of ivory gods goes by,
you clap fervently for Lady Venus:
if by chance a speck of dust falls in the girl’s lap,
as it may, let it be flicked away by your fingers:
and if there’s nothing, flick away the nothing:
let anything be a reason for you to serve her.
If her skirt is trailing too near the ground,
lift it, and raise it carefully from the dusty earth:
Straightaway, the prize for service, if she allows it,
is that your eyes catch a glimpse of her legs.
Don’t forget to look at who’s sitting behind you,
that he doesn’t press her sweet back with his knee.
Small things please light minds: it’s very helpful
to puff up her cushion with a dextrous touch.
And it’s good to raise a breeze with a light fan,
and set a hollow stool beneath her tender feet.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Livy 40, 4: rather dead than humiliated.



Philip V of Macedon (238–179 BC) tried to resist Roman expansion, which resulted in two Macedonian Wars. Philip was rather paranoia and highly unpopular. Before and during the Second Macedonian War (200–197 BC) he had many noble men killed and resettled the population of various harbours to other places, lest they might open the ports for Roman ships, and filled those cities with loyal troops. To demonstrate Phillip’s cruelty Livy tells us a story otherwise unknown, but probably related in one of the lost books of the historian Polybius. Philip wanted to arrest the children of those men he killed, because he was afraid that when older they might try to assassinate him. One particular woman, Theoxena, is determined not to let this happen and is willing to kill herself and her children rather than deliver them in the hands of the king. When an attempt to escape by ship fails, she, her husband and her children commit suicide.
Especially in such anecdotes Livy is at his best as narrator.

Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, 40, 4

[4] Eam crudelitatem, foedam per se, foediorem unius domus clades fecit. Herodicum principem Thessalorum multis ante annis occiderat; generos quoque eius postea interfecit. in uiduitate relictae filiae singulos filios paruos habentes. Theoxena et Archo nomina iis erant mulieribus. Theoxena multis petentibus aspernata nuptias est: Archo Poridi cuidam, longe principi gentis Aenianum, nupsit et apud eum plures enixa partus, paruis admodum relictis omnibus, decessit. Theoxena, ut in suis manibus liberi sororis educarentur, Poridi nupsit; et tamquam omnes ipsa enixa foret, suum sororisque filios in eadem habebat cura. postquam regis edictum de comprehendendis liberis eorum, qui interfecti essent, accepit, ludibrio futuros non regis modo sed custodum etiam libidini rata ad rem atrocem animum adiecit ausaque est dicere se sua manu potius omnes interfecturam quam in potestatem Philippi uenirent. Poris abominatus mentionem tam foedi facinoris Athenas deportaturum eos ad fidos hospites dixit, comitemque ipsum fugae futurum esse. proficiscuntur ab Thessalonica Aeneam ad statum sacrificium, quod Aeneae conditori cum magna caerimonia quotannis faciunt. ibi die per sollemnes epulas consumpto nauem praeparatam a Poride sopitis omnibus de tertia uigilia conscendunt tamquam redituri [in] Thessalonicam: sed traicere in Euboeam erat propositum. ceterum in aduersum uentum nequiquam eos tendentes prope terram lux oppressit, et regii, qui praeerant custodiae portus, lembum armatum ad retrahendam eam nauem miserunt cum graui edicto, ne reuerterentur sine ea. cum iam appropinquabant, Poris quidem ad hortationem remigum nautarumque intentus erat; interdum manus ad caelum tendens deos, ut ferrent opem, orabat. ferox interim femina, ad multo ante praecogitatum reuoluta facinus, uenenum diluit ferrumque promit et posito in conspectu poculo strictisque gladiis 'mors' inquit 'una uindicta est. uiae ad mortem hae sunt: qua quemque animus fert, effugite superbiam regiam. agite, iuuenes mei, primum, qui maiores estis, capite ferrum aut haurite poculum, si segnior mors iuuat.' et hostes aderant et auctor mortis instabat. alii alio leto absumpti semianimes e naue praecipitantur. ipsa deinde uirum comitem mortis complexa in mare sese deiecit. naue uacua dominis regii potiti sunt.

eam crudilitatem: the arrest of children
foedus: horrible
clades cladis (f.): misfortune
Herodicus: not further known
gener generi: son-in-law
viduitas viduitatis (f.): widowhood
multis petentibus: either abl abs `though many asking’ or dative with  nuptias: rejected  (aspernor) a marriage with all asking
Poridi cuidam: some Poris. The story is completely focussed on Theoxena
gentis Aenianum: the inhabitants of Aenea? But these are called Aenii. May be the name of the inhabitants of Aenia having settled in Tessalonica
plures enixa partus: having brought forth (enitor enixus) many offspring
paruis admodum relictis omnibus: all left behind still small
in suis manibus: in her care, under her supervision
edictum accepit: she heard the edict
de comprehendendis liberis: about the children to be taken prisoner
ludibrio futuros non regis modo sed custodum etiam libidini rata: thinking (reor ratus) her (children) not only to be (futuros, suppl. liberos) an object of derision (ludibrio and libinini are predicative datives) for the king, but even an object of lust for their guards
audeo ausus: to dare
abominor abominatus (+ acc.): to be horrified
facinus facinoris (n.): crime
comitem ipsum futurum: to be himself their companion
statum sacrificium: the ordained sacrifice
Aeneae conditori: according to tradition Aeneas founded Aenea when he fled from Troy
quotannis: every four years
epulae epularum: banquet
sopitis omnibus: when all were asleep (sopio)
tertia vigilia: the night was divided in four vigiliae
erat propositum: it was planned
ceterum in aduersum uentum nequiquam eos tendentes prope terram lux oppressit: but the light caught them struggling in vain against an opposing wind near land
regii: the king’s troops
qui praeerant custodiae portus: who were in charge for guarding (litt: till guard) the harbour
lembus: fast ship, cutter
ea (nave)
ad hortationem remigum nautarumque intentus: busy with encouraging the oarsmen and sailors
fero opem: to bring help
ad multo ante praecogitatum reuoluta facinus: returned to the crime long planned before
venenum: poison
diluo dilui dilutum: to dissolve
ferrumque promit: and drew a sword
poculum: cup
gladiis strictis: unsheathed swords
vindicta: deliverance
qua quemque animus fert: by what the mind brings to each
segnior mors: a slower death by poison was seen as less courageous
auctor mortis instabat: the promotor of death was pressing
alii alio leto absumpti: the various (children) being killed by a various death
semianimis: half-alive
uirum comitem mortis: her husband as a companion in death
complector complexus: to embrace
vacuus (+ abl.): free from, without
potior potitus (+ gen. acc. or abl.): to become master of