July 6th, 2020 by Chris Francese

Phaedra to Hippolytus, part 2 (Ovid, Heroides 4.37-84

Phaedra wants to take up hunting like Hippolytus and is driven to the extremes of mental derangement. Perhaps it is some family curse that the women of her Cretan line all suffer in love (Europa, Pasiphae, Ariadne)? Phaedra describes how attractive she found Hippolytus when she first saw him at Eleusis.

See Peter J. Davis, “Rewriting Euripides: Ovid, Heriodes 4,” Scholia 4 (1995) 41-55. https://www.academia.edu/4756559/Rewriting_Euripides_Ovid_Heroides_4

Phaedra reclining on bed as servant sits on floor.

Alexandre Cabanel, Phaedra, 1880. Oil on canvas, 194 x 286 cm. Musée Fabre, Montpellier.

iam quoque — vix crēdēs — ignōtās mittor in artēs;

est mihi per saevās impetus īre ferās.

iam mihi prīma dea est arcū praesignis aduncō

Dēlia; iūdicium subsequor ipsa tuum.

in nemus īre libet pressīsque in rētia cervīs

hortārī celerēs per iuga summa canēs,

aut tremulum excussō iaculum vibrāre lacertō,

aut in grāmineā pōnere corpus humō.

saepe iuvat versāre levēs in pulvere currūs

torquentem frēnīs ōra fugācis equī;

nunc feror, ut Bacchī furiīs Elelēides āctae,

quaeque sub Īdaeō tympana colle movent,

aut quās sēmideae Dryadēs Faunīque bicornēs

nūmine contāctās attonuēre suō.

namque mihī referunt, cum sē furor ille remīsit,

omnia; mē tacitam cōnscius ūrit amor.

forsitan hunc generis fātō reddāmus amōrem,

et Venus ex tōtā gente tribūta petat.

Iuppiter Eurōpēn — prīma est ea gentis orīgō —

dīlēxit, taurō dissimulante deum.

Pāsiphaē māter, dēceptō subdita taurō,

ēnīxa est uterō crīmen onusque suō.

perfidus Aegīdēs, dūcentia fīla secūtus,

curva meae fūgit tēcta sorōris ope.

ēn, ego nunc, nē forte parum Mīnōia crēdar,

in sociās lēgēs ultima gentis eō!

hoc quoque fātāle est: placuit domus ūna duābus;

mē tua fōrma capit, capta parente soror.

Thēsīdēs Thēseusque duās rapuēre sorōrēs —

pōnite dē nostrā bīna tropaea domō!

tempore quō nōbīs inita est Cereālis Eleusīn,

Cnōsia mē vellem dētinuisset humus!

tunc mihi praecipuē (nec nōn tamen ante placēbās)

ācer in extrēmīs ossibus haesit amor.

candida vestis erat, praecīnctī flōre capillī,

flāva verēcundus tīnxerat ōra rubor,

quemque vocant aliae vultum rigidumque trucemque,

prō rigidō Phaedrā iūdice fortis erat.

sint procul ā nōbīs iuvenēs ut fēmina cōmptī! —

fīne colī modicō fōrma virīlis amat.

tē tuus iste rigor positīque sine arte capillī

et levis ēgregiō pulvis in ōre decet.

sīve ferōcis equī luctantia colla recurvās,

exiguō flexōs mīror in orbe pedēs;

seu lentum validō torquēs hastīle lacertō,

ōra ferōx in sē versa lacertus habet,

sīve tenēs lātō vēnābula cornea ferrō.

dēnique nostra iuvat lūmina, quidquid agis.

Play

July 2nd, 2020 by Chris Francese

Phaedra to Hippolytus (Ovid, Heroides 4.1-36)

Sarah Bernhardt in the role of Racine's Phèdre

Sarah Bernhardt in the role of Racine’s Phèdre (Getty Museum)

Quā, nisi tū dederis, caritūra est ipsa, salūtem

mittit Amāzoniō Cressa puella virō.

perlege, quodcumque est: quid epistula lēcta nocēbit?

tē quoque in hāc aliquid quod iuvet esse potest;

hīs arcāna notīs terrā pelagōque feruntur.   5

īnspicit acceptās hostis ab hoste notās.

ter tēcum cōnāta loquī ter inūtilis haesit

lingua, ter in prīmō restitit ōre sonus.

quā licet et sequitur, pudor est miscendus amōrī;

dīcere quae puduit, scrībere iussit Amor. 10

quidquid Amor iussit, nōn est contemnere tūtum;

rēgnat et in dominōs iūs habet ille deōs.

ille mihī prīmō dubitantī scrībere dīxit:

‘scrībe! dabit vīctās ferreus ille manūs.’

adsit et, ut nostrās avidō fovet igne medullās, 15

fingat sīc animōs ad mea vōta tuōs!

nōn ego nēquitiā sociālia foedera rumpam;

fāma — velim quaerās — crīmine nostra vacat.

vēnit amor gravius, quō sērior — ūrimur intus;

ūrimur, et caecum pectora vulnus habent. 20

scīlicet ut tenerōs laedunt iuga prīma iuvencōs,

frēnaque vix patitur dē grege captus equus,

sīc male vixque subit prīmōs rude pectus amōrēs,

sarcinaque haec animō nōn sedet apta meō.

ars fit, ubi ā tenerīs crīmen condiscitur annīs; 25

cui venit exāctō tempore, pēius amat.

tū nova servātae capiēs lībāmina fāmae,

et pariter nostrum fīet uterque nocēns.

est aliquid, plēnīs pōmāria carpere rāmīs,

ac tenuī prīmam dēligere ungue rosam. 30

sī tamen ille prior, quō mē sine crīmine gessī,

candor ab īnsolitā lābe notandus erat,

at bene successit, dignō quod adūrimur ignī;

pēius adulteriō turpis adulter obest.

sī mihi concēdat Iūnō frātremque virumque, 35

Hippolytum videor praepositūra Iovī!

Play

June 27th, 2020 by Chris Francese

Briseis to Achilles part 1 (Ovid, Heroides 3.1-66)

There are still a couple of days left to sign up to join me and Chun Liu of Peking University for an online workshop reading Ovid’s Heroides, July 15-20, 2020: http://blogs.dickinson.edu/dcc/2020/05/03/2020-ovid-heroides-online-workshop-announcement/ Deadline to register is July 1, 2020.

Quam legis, ā raptā Brīsēide littera vēnit,

vix bene barbaricā Graeca notāta manū.

quāscumque adspiciēs, lacrimae fēcēre litūrās;

sed tamen et lacrimae pondera vōcis habent.

Sī mihi pauca querī dē tē dominōque virōque                  5

fās est, dē dominō pauca virōque querar.

nōn, ego poscentī quod sum cito trādita rēgī,

culpa tua est—quamvīs haec quoque culpa tua est;

nam simul Eurybatēs mē Talthybiusque vocārunt,

Eurybatī data sum Talthybiōque comes.                           10

alter in alterius iactantēs lūmina vultum

quaerēbant tacitī, noster ubi esset amor.

differrī potuī; poenae mora grāta fuisset.

ei mihi! discēdēns ōscula nūlla dedī;

at lacrimās sine fīne dedī rūpīque capillōs—                     15

īnfēlīx iterum sum mihi vīsa cāpī!

Saepe ego dēceptō voluī cūstōde revertī,

sed, mē quī timidam prēnderet, hostis erat.

sī prōgressa forem, caperer nē, nocte, timēbam,

quamlibet ad Priamī mūnus itūra nurum.                         20

Sed data sim, quia danda fuī—tot noctibus absum

nec repetor; cessās, īraque lenta tua est.

ipse Menoetiadēs tum, cum trādēbar, in aurem

‘quid flēs? hīc parvō tempore,’ dīxit, ‘eris.’

Nec repetīsse parum; pugnās nē reddar, Achille!             25

ī nunc et cupidī nōmen amantis habē!

vēnērunt ad tē Telamōne et Amyntore natī—

ille gradū propior sanguinis, ille comes—

Lāertāque satus, per quōs comitāta redīrem

(auxērunt blandās grandia dōna precēs)                          30

vīgintī fulvōs operōsō ex āere lebētās,

et tripodas septem pondere et arte parēs;

addita sunt illīs aurī bis quīnque talenta,

bis sex adsuētī vincere semper equī,

quodque supervacuum est, fōrmā praestante puellae   35

Lesbides, ēversā corpora capta domō,

cumque tot hīs—sed nōn opus est tibi coniuge—coniūnx

ex Agamemnoniīs ūna puella tribus.

sī tibi ab Atrīdē pretiō redimenda fuissem,

quae dare dēbuerās, accipere illa negās!                           40

quā meruī culpā fierī tibi vīlis, Achille?

quō levis ā nōbīs tam cito fugit amor?

An miserōs trīstis fortūna tenāciter urget,

nec venit inceptīs mollior hōra malīs?

dīruta Mārte tuō Lyrnēsia moenia vīdī—                            45

et fueram patriae pars ego magna meae;

vīdī cōnsortēs pariter generisque necisque

trēs cecidisse, quibus, quae mihi, māter erat;

vīdī, quantus erat, fūsum tellūre cruenta

pectora iactantem sanguinolenta virum.                          50

tot tamen āmissīs tē conpēnsāvimus ūnum;

tū dominus, tū vir, tū mihi frāter erās.

tū mihi, iūrātus per nūmina mātris aquōsae,

ūtile dīcēbās ipse fuisse capī—

scīlicet ut, quamvīs veniam dōtāta, repellās                       55

et mēcum fugiās quae tibi dantur opēs!

quīn etiam fāma est, cum crāstina fulserit Ēos,

tē dare nūbiferīs lintea velle Notīs.

Quod scelus ut pavidās miserae mihi contigit aurēs,

sanguinis atque animī pectus ināne fuit.                           60

ībis et—ō miseram!—cui mē, violente, relinquis?

quis mihi dēsertae mīte levāmen erit?

dēvorer ante, precor, subitō tellūris hiātū

aut rutilō missī fulminis igne cremer,

quam sine mē Pthīīs canēscant aequora rēmīs,                65

et videam puppēs īre relicta tuās!

Play

June 20th, 2020 by Chris Francese

Phyllis to Demophoon part 2 (Ovid, Heroides 2.49-148)

Join me and Chun Liu of Peking University for an online workshop reading Ovid’s Heroides, July 15-20, 2020: http://blogs.dickinson.edu/dcc/2020/05/03/2020-ovid-heroides-online-workshop-announcement/

crēdidimus blandīs, quōrum tibi cōpia, verbīs;

crēdidimus generī nōminibusque tuīs;       50

crēdidimus lacrimīs—an et hae simulāre docentur?

hae quoque habent artēs, quāque iubentur, eunt?

dīs quoque crēdidimus. quō iam tot pignora nōbīs?

parte satis potuī quālibet inde capī.

Nec moveor, quod tē iūvī portūque locōque— 55

dēbuit haec meritī summa fuisse meī!

turpiter hospitium lectō cumulāsse iugālī

paenitet, et laterī cōnseruisse latus.

quae fuit ante illam, māllem suprēma fuisset

nox mihi, dum potuī Phyllis honesta morī.      60

spērāvī melius, quia mē meruisse putāvī;

quaecumque ex meritō spēs venit, aequa venit.

fallere crēdentem nōn est operōsa puellam

glōria. simplicitās digna favōre fuit.

sum dēcepta tuīs et amāns et fēmina verbīs.     65

dī faciant, laudis summa sit ista tuae!

inter et Aegīdās, mediā statuāris in urbe,

magnificus titulīs stet pater ante suīs.

cum fuerit Scīrōn lēctus torvusque Procrūstēs

et Sinis et taurī mixtaque fōrma virī    70

et domitae bellō Thēbae fūsīque bimembrēs

et pulsāta nigrī rēgia caeca deī—

hoc tua post illōs titulō signētur imāgō:

hic est, cuius amāns hospita capta dolō est.

dē tantā rērum turbā factīsque parentis             75

sēdit in ingeniō Cressa relicta tuō.

quod solum excūsat, sōlum mīrāris in illō;

hērēdem patriae, perfide, fraudis agis.

illa—nec invideō—fruitur meliōre marītō

inque capistrātīs tigribus alta sedet;   80

at mea dēspectī fugiunt cōnūbia Thrācēs,

quod ferar externum praeposuisse meīs.

atque aliquis ‘iam nunc doctās eat,’ inquit, ‘Athēnās;

armiferam Thrācen quī regat, alter erit.

exitus ācta probat.’ careat successibus, optō,           85

quisquis ab ēventū facta notanda putat!

at sī nostra tuō spūmēscant aequora rēmō,

iam mihi, iam dīcar cōnsuluisse meīs—

sed neque cōnsuluī, nec tē mea rēgia tanget

fessaque Bistoniā membra lavābis aquā!         90

Illa meīs oculīs speciēs abeuntis inhaeret,

cum premeret portūs classis itūra meōs.

ausus es amplectī collōque īnfūsus amantis

ōscula per longās iungere pressa morās

cumque tuīs lacrimīs lacrimās cōnfundere nostrās,       95

quodque foret vēlīs aura secunda, querī

et mihi discēdēns suprēmā dīcere vōce:

‘Phyllī, fac expectēs Dēmophoonta tuum!’

Expectem, quī mē numquam vīsūrus abistī?

expectem pelagō vēla negāta meō?      100

et tamen expectō—redeās modo sērus amantī,

ut tua sit sōlō tempore lāpsa fidēs!

Quid precor īnfēlīx? tē iam tenet altera coniūnx

forsitan et, nōbīs quī male fāvit, amor;

iamque tibi excidimus, nūllam, putō, Phyllida nōstī.      105

eī mihi! sī, quae sim Phyllis et unde, rogās—

quae tibi, Dēmophoōn, longīs errōribus āctō

Thrēiciōs portūs hospitiumque dedī,

cuius opēs auxēre meae, cui dīves egentī

mūnera multa dedī, multa datūra fuī;                              110

quae tibi subiēcī lātissima rēgna Lycūrgī,

nōmine fēmineō vix satis apta regī,

quā patet umbrōsum Rhodopē glaciālis ad Haemum,

et sacer admissās exigit Hebrus aquās,

cui mea virginitās avibus lībāta sinistrīs                  115

castaque fallācī zōna recīncta manū!

prōnuba Tīsiphonē thalamīs ululāvit in illīs,

et cecinit maestum dēvia carmen avis;

adfuit Allectō brevibus torquāta colubrīs,

suntque sepulcrālī lūmina mōta face!                                    120

Maesta tamen scopulōs fruticōsaque lītora calcō

quaeque patent oculīs lītora lāta meīs.

sīve diē laxātur humus, seu frīgida lūcent

sīdera, prōspiciō, quis freta ventus agat;

et quaecumque procul venientia lintea vīdī,                    125

prōtinus illa meōs auguror esse deōs.

in freta prōcurrō, vix mē retinentibus undīs,

mōbile quā prīmās porrigit aequor aquās.

quō magis accēdunt, minus et minus ūtilis adstō;

linquor et ancillīs excipienda cadō.                                        130

Est sinus, adductōs modicē falcātus in arcūs;

ultima praeruptā cornua mōle rigent.

hinc mihi suppositās inmittere corpus in undās

mēns fuit; et, quoniam fallere pergis, erit.

ad tua mē flūctūs prōiectam lītora portent,       135

occurramque oculīs intumulāta tuīs!

dūritiā ferrum ut superes adamantaque tēque,

‘nōn tibi sīc,’ dīcēs, ‘Phyllī, sequendus eram!’

saepe venēnōrum sitis est mihi; saepe cruentā

trāiectam gladiō morte perīre iuvat.                                140

colla quoque, īnfīdīs quia sē nectenda lacertīs

praebuērunt, laqueīs inplicuisse iuvat.

stat nece mātūrā tenerum pēnsāre pudōrem.

in necis ēlēctū parva futūra mora est.

Īnscrībēre meō causa invidiōsa sepulcrō.          145

aut hōc aut similī carmine nōtus eris:

PHYLLIDA DEMOPHOON LETO DEDIT HOSPES AMANTEM;

ILLE NECIS CAUSAM PRAEBUIT, IPSA MANUM.

Play

June 14th, 2020 by Chris Francese

Phyllis to Demophoon, part 1: Ovid, Heroides 2.1-48

Woodcut from the Italian translation of the Heroides published by Sixtus Riessinger (Naples, 1474)

Woodcut from the Italian translation of the Heroides published by Sixtus Riessinger (Naples, 1474)

Hospita, Dēmophoōn, tua tē Rhodopēia Phyllis

ultrā prōmissum tempus abesse queror.

cornua cum lūnae plēnō semel orbe coīssent,

lītoribus nostrīs ancora pacta tua est—

lūna quater latuit, tōtō quater orbe recrēvit;                     5

nec vehit Actaeās Sīthonis unda ratēs.

tempora sī numerēs—bene quae numerāmus amantēs—

nōn venit ante suam nostra querēla diem.

Spēs quoque lenta fuit; tardē, quae crēdita laedunt,

crēdimus. invītā nunc es amante nocēns.                          10

saepe fuī mendax prō tē mihi, saepe putāvī

alba procellōsōs vēla referre Notōs.

Thēsea dēvōvī, quia tē dīmittere nōllet;

nec tenuit cursūs forsitan ille tuōs.

interdum timuī, nē, dum vada tendis ad Hebrī,                 15

mersa foret cānā naufraga puppis aquā.

saepe deōs supplex, ut tū, scelerāte, valērēs,

cum prece tūricremīs sum venerāta sacrīs;

saepe, vidēns ventōs caelō pelagōque faventēs,[1]

ipsa mihi dīxī: ‘sī valet ille, venit.’                                         20

dēnique fīdus amor, quidquid properantibus obstat,

fīnxit, et ad causās ingeniōsa fuī.

at tū lentus abes; nec tē iūrāta redūcunt

nūmina, nec nostrō mōtus amōre redis.

Dēmophoōn, ventīs et verba et vēla dedistī;      25

vēla queror reditū, verba carēre fide.

Dīc mihi, quid fēcī, nisi nōn sapienter amāvī?

crīmine tē potuī dēmeruisse meō.

ūnum in mē scelus est, quod tē, scelerāte, recēpī;

sed scelus hoc meritī pondus et īnstar habet.                 30

iūra fidēsque ubi nunc, commissaque dextera dextrae,

quīque erat in falsō plūrimus ōre deus?

prōmissus sociōs ubi nunc Hymenaeus in annōs,

quī mihi coniugiī spōnsor et obses erat?

per mare, quod tōtum ventīs agitātur et undīs,                 35

per quod nempe ierās, per quod itūrus erās,

perque tuum mihi iūrāstī—nisi fictus et ille est—

concita quī ventīs aequora mulcet, avum,

per Venerem nimiumque mihi facientia tēla—

altera tēla arcus, altera tēla facēs—     40

Iūnōnemque, torīs quae praesidet alma marītīs,

et per taediferae mystica sacra deae.

sī dē tot laesīs sua nūmina quisque deōrum

vindicet, in poenās nōn satis ūnus eris.

Āh, lacerās etiam puppēs furiōsa refēcī—          45

ut, quā dēsererer, firma carīna foret!—

rēmigiumque dedī, quod mē fugitūrus habērēs.

heu! patior tēlīs vulnera facta meīs!

[1] 18-19 habent ς, om. PEG ω.

Play

June 3rd, 2020 by Chris Francese

Penelope to Odysseus, part 3 (Ovid, Heroides 1.75-116)

This is the third and last episode on Heroides 1. If you love Ovid’s Heroides, consider joining Chun Liu (Professor of Comparative Literature at Peking University) and me at the Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop (online this year), July 15-20, 2020. http://blogs.dickinson.edu/dcc/2019/11/06/dickinson-summer-latin-workshop-ovid-heroides/

Penelope imagines that Odysseus, who has the same desires as most men, might have taken up with another woman and is now describing Penelope to this other woman in unflattering terms.

haec ego dum stultē metuō, quae vestra libīdō est,                            75

esse peregrīnō captus amōre potes.

forsitan et nārrēs, quam sit tibi rūstica coniūnx,

quae tantum lānās nōn sinat esse rudēs.

fallar, et hoc crīmen tenuēs vānēscat in aurās,

nēve, revertendī līber, abesse velīs!                                                             80

Mē pater Īcarius viduō discēdere lectō

cōgit et immēnsās increpat usque morās.

increpet usque licet—tua sum, tua dīcar oportet;

Pēnelope coniūnx semper Ulixis erō.

ille tamen pietāte meā precibusque pudīcīs                                                85

frangitur et vīrēs temperat ipse suās.

 

Only now does she get around to mentioning the suitors, whose dining and carrying in the home of Odysseus is the major cause of the crisis in the Odyssey. 

Dūlichiī Samiīque et quōs tulit alta Zacynthōs,

turba ruunt in mē luxuriōsa procī,

inque tuā rēgnant nūllīs prohibentibus aulā;

vīscera nostra, tuae dīlacerantur opēs.                                                90

quid tibi Pīsandrum Polybumque Medontaque dīrum

Eurymachīque avidās Antinoīque manūs

atque aliōs referam, quōs omnēs turpiter absēns

ipse tuō partīs sanguine rēbus ālis?

Īrus egēns pecorisque Melanthius āctor[1] edendī                                95

ultimus accēdunt in tua damna pudor.

 

The letter ends with anxiety: first that Odysseus’ loyal family and servants are unequal to the task of fending off the suitors, and then, at the very last line as a surprise, worry that she is growing old in his absence. 

Trēs sumus inbellēs numerō, sine vīribus uxor

Lāertēsque senex Tēlemachusque puer.

ille per īnsidiās paene est mihi nūper adēmptus,

dum parat invītīs omnibus īre Pylon.                                                       100

dī, precor, hoc iubeant, ut euntibus ōrdine fātīs

ille meōs oculōs conprimat, ille tuōs!

hāc[2] faciunt cūstōsque boum longaevaque nūtrīx,

tertius inmundae cūra fidēlis harae;

sed neque Lāertēs, ut quī sit inūtilis armīs,                                              105

hostibus in mediīs rēgna tenēre valet[3]

Tēlemachō veniet, vīvat modo, fortior aetās;

nunc erat auxiliīs illa tuenda patris—

nec mihi sunt vīrēs inimīcōs pellere tēctīs.

tū citius veniās, portus et ara tuīs!                                                       110

est tibi sitque, precor, nātus, quī mollibus annīs

in patriās artēs ērudiendus erat.

respice Lāertēn; ut tū sua lūmina condās,

extrēmum fātī sustinet ille diem.

Certē ego, quae fueram tē discēdente puella,                                            115

prōtinus ut veniās, facta vidēbor anus.

 

[1] actor Gς edd.: auctor Eω

[2] hac Tyrrel Knox Loeb: haec Egς: hoc ς

[3] valet Eς Plan. Knox: potest Gω Loeb

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May 26th, 2020 by Chris Francese

Penelope to Odysseus part 2 (Ovid, Heroides 1.37-74)

If you love Ovid’s Heroides, consider joining Chun Liu (Professor of Comparative Literature at Peking University) and me at the Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop (online this year), July 15-20, 2020. http://blogs.dickinson.edu/dcc/2019/11/06/dickinson-summer-latin-workshop-ovid-heroides/

Omnia namque tuō senior tē quaerere missō

rettulerat nātō Nestor, at ille mihi.

rettulit et ferrō Rhēsumque Dolōnaque caesōs,

utque sit hic somnō prōditus, ille dolō.                                               40

ausus es—ō nimium nimiumque oblīte tuōrum!—

Thrācia nocturnō tangere castra dolō

totque simul mactāre virōs, adiūtus ab ūnō!

at bene cautus erās et memor ante meī!

usque metū micuēre sinūs, dum victor amīcum                                 45

dictus es īsse per agmen equīs.

 

Sed mihi quid prōdest vestrīs disiecta lacertīs

Īlios et, mūrus quod fuit, esse solum,

sī maneō, quālis Troiā dūrante manēbam,

virque mihi dēmptō fīne cārendus abest?                                                 50

dīruta sunt aliīs, ūnī mihi Pergama restant,

incola captīvō quae bove victor arat.

iam seges est, ubi Troia fuit, resecandaque falce

luxuriat Phrygiō sanguine pinguis humus;

sēmisepulta virum curvīs feriuntur arātrīs                                                  55

ossa, ruīnōsās occulit herba domōs.

victor abes, nec scīre mihi, quae causa morandī,

aut in quō lateās ferreus orbe, licet!

 

Quisquis ad haec vertit peregrīnam lītora puppim,

ille mihi dē tē multa rogātus abit,                                                                60

quamque tibi reddat, sī tē modo vīderit usquam,

trāditur huic digitīs charta notāta meīs.

nōs Pylon, antīquī Nēlēia Nestoris arva,

mīsimus; incertā est fāma remissa Pylō.

mīsimus et Spartēn; Spartē quoque nescia vērī.                                        65

quās habitās terrās, aut ubi lentus abes?

ūtilius stārent etiamnunc moenia Phoebī—

īrāscor vōtīs, heu, levis ipsa meīs!

scīrem ubi pugnārēs, et tantum bella timērem,

et mea cum multīs iūncta querēlā foret.                                                    70

quid timeam, ignōrō—timeō tamen omnia dēmēns,

et patet in cūrās ārea lāta meās.

quaecumque aequor habet, quaecumque perīcula tellus,

tam longae causās suspicor esse morae.

 

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May 23rd, 2020 by Chris Francese

Penelope to Odysseus part 1 (Ovid, Heroides 1.1-36)

Penelope is not represented as the legendary wife of Odysseus but as a contemporary woman, dutifully engaged in needlework as she dreams about her husband, portrayed in the miniature before her.

Penelope (ca. 1868) by Charles-François Marchal. Penelope is not represented as the legendary wife of Odysseus but as a contemporary woman, dutifully engaged in needlework as she dreams about her husband, portrayed in the miniature before her. Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Here begins what I plan to be a series on Ovid’s Heroides, in preparation for an open online seminar on the Heroides with Chun Liu of Peking University, July 16-20, 2020. We will read and discuss several of the Heroides together. Please sign up and join us!

Penelope starts by letting Odysseus know she feels abandoned, and criticizes the Trojan war as not worth the pain it has caused to the women back home in Greece. Ovid makes it clear immediately that she knows the war is over (Troia iacet certe, Troy undoubtedly lies in ruins). Certe means that something is certain in the mind of the speaker, and is often used in protests: the unspoken protest here being “you should be back by now!” Lento “slow” in the first line also makes this complaint. Other key words express her lonliness: deserto (empty), frigida (cold), relicta (left behind), viduas (alone)—some of these adjectives apply to things (her bed, her hands) but they all emphasize her psychological state. Throughout the poem Ovid tests your knowledge of the Odyssey, and the first is an easy one, the reference to Penelope weaving (pendula tela). If you have read the Odyssey you know Penelope spends a good amount of time weaving, most famously the shroud of Laertes. The tela is the “warp,” the upright threads into which the “weft” is woven. It is said to be pendula (“hangning, suspended”) which just means that it is upright, not that it is swinging from the rafters.

Haec tua Pēnelopē lentō tibi mittit, Ulixe;

nīl mihi rescrībās attinet: ipse venī!

Troia iacet certē, Danaīs invīsa puellīs;

vix Priamus tantī tōtaque Troia fuit.

ō utinam tum, cum Lacedaemona classe petēbat,                                       5

obrutus īnsānīs esset adulter aquīs!

nōn ego dēsertō iacuissem frīgida lectō,

nec quererer tardōs īre relicta diēs;

nec mihi quaerentī spatiōsam fallere noctem

lassāret viduās pendula tēla manūs.                                                            10

 

Penelope refers to herself as puella in line 3, which seems not right, since she is a mature married woman, but I think Ovid is trying to say that she is still in love, that she is in the class of lovers (puella is the standard term for “beloved” in Roman love poetry). He emphasizes this in the next section where Penelope talks about how afraid she is that Odysseus will get hurt, and that this is how lovers are, nervous and worried (solliciti).  She grows pale at the mention of Hector’s name, or at the mention of the victory of one of Troy’s other great champions, Memnon or Sarpedon. Here the testing of your mythological knowledge gets more intense. Hector: no problem there if you know the Iliad; the mention of the death of Antilochus is much trickier. Antilochus was a son of Nestor, mentioned in the Odyssey 4.187 as having been killed by the Ethiopian champion Memnon, son of the Dawn and a late arrival to Troy, after the Iliad ends.  Tlepolemus, according to Iliad 5.628–665, was killed by Sarpedon, another great Trojan ally, from Lycia. She identifies these heroes by their victims because she says she gets nervous any time he gets news that any Greek has been killed, “the heart of the lover grows colder than ice.” Again this emotion portrays her as a lover, not so much a wife, though of course a wife would be nervous, too.

Quandō ego nōn timuī graviōra perīcula vēris?

rēs est sollicitī plēna timōris amor.

in tē fingēbam violentōs Trōas itūrōs;

nōmine in Hectoreō pallida semper eram.

sīve quis Antilochum nārrābat ab hoste revictum,                             15

Antilochus nostrī causa timōris erat;

sīve Menoetiadēn falsīs cecidisse sub armīs,

flēbam successū posse carēre dolōs.

sanguine Tlēpolemus Lyciam tepefēcerat hastam;

Tlēpolemī lētō cūra novāta mea est.                                                            20

dēnique, quisquis erat castrīs iugulātus Achīvīs,

frīgidius glaciē pectus amantis erat.

 

Now Penelope makes it clear how she knows that the war is over and that Odysseus survived it: the other Greek leaders have all returned. Casto (23) makes it clear she has remained faithful, which she famously did, though pressed by numerous suitors. The altars are smoking (altaria fumant) with thank offerings, and loot from the war is being hung up as dedications (ponitur) in temples—not a Homeric detail but one taken from later times. The returning warriors are describing their exploits to their parents and wives, who are giving thank offerings to the gods for their safe return. Penelope’s exclusion from these celebrations is hinted at, a source of bewildered frustration for her and pathos for us. Ovid expands on the storytelling element of intimacy between husbands and wives, as Penelope dwells wretchedly on the happiness of others. In the process Ovid mentions some further mythological details for us to recognize and savor: the geography of Troy (Pergama), the Simois river, the promontory of Sigeum, the palace of Priam. The fact that the geography is drawn in wine on a table makes it clear this is happening at a welcome-home celebration of which she has been deprived. Ovid also now has a chance to mention the greatest of the Greek heroes, Achilles (Aeacides), and the famous episode toward the end of the Iliad where Achilles drags Hector’s corpse around the walls. Ovid is the master of compressed, allusive narrative: all he says is that “here (pointing to a spot on the diagram), mangled Hector terrified the galloping horses” hīc lacer admissōs terruit Hector equōs). In a single line with one verb, one subject, two nouns and two adjectives, we get the key event (insulting of the corpse) and the key emotion (terror), without any mention of dragging. Focalizing it through the eyes of the horses, who stand in for us as viewers of the grisly spectacle, is a beautiful touch.

Sed bene cōnsuluit castō deus aequus amōrī.

versa est in cinerem[1] sospite Trōia virō.

Argolicī rediēre ducēs, altāria fūmant;                                                         25

pōnitur ad patriōs barbara praeda deōs.

grāta ferunt nuptae[2] prō salvīs dōna marītīs;

illī victa suīs Trōica fāta canunt.

mīrantur iūstīque senēs trepidaeque puellae;

nārrantis coniūnx pendet ab ōre virī.                                                         30

iamque[3] aliquis positā mōnstrat fera proelia mēnsā,

pingit et exiguō Pergama tōta merō:

‘hāc ībat Simois; haec est Sigēia tellūs;

hīc steterat Priamī rēgia celsa senis.

illīc Aeacidēs, illīc tendēbat Ulixēs;                                                                35

hīc lacer admissōs terruit Hector equōs.’

 

[1] cinerem Eς Knox: cineres Gω, Loeb

[2] nuptae Heinsius Knox: nymphae codd. Loeb

[3] iamque Gς Knox: atque Eς Loeb

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April 30th, 2020 by Chris Francese

Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy 1.P4

ilustration: Philosophy Presenting the Seven Liberal Arts to Boethius

Philosophy Presenting the Seven Liberal Arts to Boethius. Coëtivy Master (French, active about 1450 – 1485). Source: Getty Museum

Ancius Manlius Severinus Boethius rose to high honors under Theodoric the Ostrogoth (ruler of the independent Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy between 493–526), but fell from favor, was tried for treason, wrongly condemned and imprisoned at Ticinum (Pavia). Sentenced to death and to forfeiture of all his property, Boethius was executed by sword, probably in the autumn of 524. The Consolatio philosophiae, written from prison, discusses such fundamental existential questions as ‘What values are there?’, ‘What is the highest good?’, ‘What is the relationship between Providence and free will?’ With a regular switch between prose and poetry, a dialogue takes place with Philosophy, which appears to the condemned man in prison. In this passage Boethius puts the ideal of philosophical fortitude in the face of corrupt power in 18 lovely hendecasyllabic lines.

Quisquis composito serenus aevo
Fatum sub pedibus egit superbum
Fortunamque tuens utramque rectus
Invictum potuit tenere vultum,
Non illum rabies minaeque ponti
Versum funditus exagitantis aestum
Nec ruptis quotiens vagus caminis
Torquet fumificos Vesaeuus ignes
Aut celsas soliti ferire turres
Ardentis via fulminis movebit.
Quid tantum miseri saevos tyrannos
Mirantur sine viribus furentes?
Nec speres aliquid nec extimescas,
Exarmaveris impotentis iram.
At quisquis trepidus pavet vel optat,
Quod non sit stabilis suique iuris,
Abiecit clipeum locoque motus
Nectit qua valeat trahi catenam.

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April 1st, 2020 by Chris Francese

Hecuba Tiger Queen

Ovid on the Metamorphoses compares Hecuba to a lioness, not a tigress, but as I discuss based on Pliny and Valerius Flaccus, the two animals were grouped together in the Roman mind under the heading of savage mothers who get cubs stolen by raptores. In honor of the Netflix documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness I though I would do an episode on tigers in Roman poetry.

Illustration: Hecuba and the Trojan Women Murdering Polymestor (Hecuba Polymnestori oculos ervit), from Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' 1606 Antonio Tempesta Italian

Hecuba and the Trojan Women Murdering Polymestor (Hecuba Polymnestori oculos ervit), from Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’
(1606) by Antonio Tempesta

I discuss the following passages:

Pliny, Natural Historry 8.66

Tigrim Hyrcani et Indi ferunt, animal velocitatis tremendae et maxime cognitae, dum capitur totus eius fetus, qui semper numerosus est. ab insidiante rapitur equo quam maxime pernici atque in recentes subinde transfertur. at ubi vacuum cubile reperit feta—maribus enim subolis cura non est—, fertur praeceps odore vestigans. raptor adpropinquante fremitu abicit unum ex catulis; tollit illa morsu et pondere etiam ocior acta remeat iterumque consequitur ac subinde, donec in navem regresso inrita feritas saevit in litore.

Hyrcania and India produce the tiger, an animal of terrific speed, which is most noticeable when the whole of its litter, which is always numerous, is being captured. The litter is taken by a man lying in wait with the swiftest horse obtainable, and is transferred successively to fresh horses. But when the mother tiger finds the lair empty (for the males do not look after their young) she rushes off at headlong speed, tracking them by scent. The captor when her roar approaches throws away one of the cubs. She snatches it up in her mouth, and returns and resumes the pursuit at even a faster pace owing to her burden, and so on in succession until the hunter has regained the ship and her ferocity rages vainly on the shore.

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 6.146-49

Exomatas venatus alit, nec clarior ullis arctos equis;

abeunt Hypanin fragilemque per undam

tigridis aut saevae profugi cum prole leaenae,

maestaque suspectae mater stupet aggere ripae.

The Exomatae live by the chase, nor is the North more famous for any steeds; over the Hypanis and its fragile waves they speed, carrying off in their flight the cub of a tiger or fierce lioness, while the mother stands dazed with grief on the rampart of the treacherous bank.

and Ovid, Metamorphoses  545 ff.

qua simul exarsit, tamquam regina maneret,         545

ulcisci statuit poenaeque in imagine tota est,

utque furit catulo lactente orbata leaena

signaque nacta pedum sequitur, quem non videt, hostem,

sic Hecabe, postquam cum luctu miscuit iram,

non oblita animorum, annorum oblita suorum,         550

vadit ad artificem dirae, Polymestora, caedis

conloquiumque petit; nam se monstrare relictum

velle latens illi, quod nato redderet, aurum.

credidit Odrysius praedaeque adsuetus amore

in secreta venit: tum blando callidus ore 555

‘tolle moras, Hecabe,’ dixit ‘da munera nato!

omne fore illius, quod das, quod et ante dedisti,

per superos iuro.’ spectat truculenta loquentem

falsaque iurantem tumidaque exaestuat ira

atque ita correpto captivarum agmina matrum         560

invocat et digitos in perfida lumina condit

expellitque genis oculos (facit ira potentem)

inmergitque manus foedataque sanguine sonti

non lumen (neque enim superest), loca luminis haurit.

As soon as her rage blazed out, as if she still were queen, she resolved on vengeance and was wholly absorbed in the punishment her imagination pictured. And as a lioness rages when her suckling cub has been stolen from her, and follows the tracks of her enemy, though she does not see him, so Hecuba, wrath mingling with her grief, regardless of her years but not her deadly purpose, went straight to Polymestor, who wrought the heartless murder, and sought an audience with him, pretending that she wished to show him a store of gold which she had hoarded for her son and now would give him. The Thracian was deceived and, led by his habitual lust for gain, he came to the hiding-place. Then craftily, with smooth speech he said: “Come, Hecuba, make haste, give me the treasure for your son! I swear by the gods of heaven, all shall be his, what you give now and what you have given before.” She grimly eyed him as he spoke and swore his lying oath. Then did her rising wrath boil over, and, calling the captive women to the attack, she seized upon him, dug her fingers into his lying eyes and gouged his eyeballs from their sockets—so mighty did wrath make her. Then she plunged in her hands and, stained with his guilty blood, she plucked out, not his eyes, for they were gone, but the places of his eyes.

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