May 6th, 2011 by Chris Francese

New batch of Catullus podcasts

My students have just produced some new Catullus podcasts, including dueling versions of 101, some delightful discussions of 13 (Cenabis bene) and 14 (Marrucine Asini), and a dramatic treatment of 63.1-30, about Attis, the self-castrating priest of Cybele. among others. Great stuff. Give them a listen here if you have a chance. The class is Latin 112, Introduction to Latin Poetry, and they are finishing up their fourth semester of Latin.

March 24th, 2011 by Chris Francese

On translating Vergil (Aeneid 1.305-309, 6.26-27)

Translating Vergil

Aeneid 1.305-309

At pius Aeneas, per noctem plurima volvens,

ut primum lux alma data est, exire locosque

explorare novos, quas vento accesserit oras,

qui teneant, nam inculta videt, hominesne feraene,

quaerere constituit, sociisque exacta referre.


But the dedicated man,

Aeneas, thoughtful through the restless night,

Made up his mind, as kindly daylight came,

To go out and explore the strange new places,

To learn what coast the wind had brought him to

And who were living there, men or wild creatures—

For wilderness was all he saw—and bring

Report back to his company.


But, nightlong, many cares have held the pious

Aeneas. And as soon as gracious daylight

is given to him, this is his decision:

to go out and explore the foreign country,

to learn what shores the wind has brought him to,

who lives upon this land—it is untilled—

are they wild beasts or men—and then to tell

his comrades what he has found.


But all that night dutiful Aeneas was turning many things over in his mind. As soon as life-giving morning came, he decided to go out and explore this new land and bring back to his men a true account of the shores to which the winds had driven him, and the beasts and men who lived there, if there were any men, for he saw no signs of cultivation.

Aeneid 6.26-27:

Minotaurus inest, Veneris monimenta nefandae,

hic labor ille domus et inextricabilis error.


… the Minotaur, get of unholy lust.

Here too, that puzzle of the house of Minos,

The maze none could untangle…


the Minotaur,

a monument to her polluted passion

and here the inextricable labyrinth,

the house of toil, was carved …


Here too is . . .the Minotaur . . . the memorial to a perverted love, and here is its home, built with such great labor, the inextricable labyrinth

March 15th, 2011 by Chris Francese

O Socii (Vergil, Aeneid 1.198-209)

O Socii

‘O socii—neque enim ignari sumus ante malorum—
O passi graviora, dabit deus his quoque finem.
Vos et Scyllaeam rabiem penitusque sonantis 200
accestis scopulos, vos et Cyclopea saxa
experti: revocate animos, maestumque timorem
mittite: forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.
Per varios casus, per tot discrimina rerum
tendimus in Latium; sedes ubi fata quietas 205
ostendunt; illic fas regna resurgere Troiae.
Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis.’
Talia voce refert, curisque ingentibus aeger
spem voltu simulat, premit altum corde dolorem.

November 30th, 2010 by Chris Francese

Always a Listener (Juvenal, Satire 1.1-21)

Juvenal Sat. 1.1-21

Semper ego auditor tantum? numquamne reponam

uexatus totiens rauci Theseide Cordi?

inpune ergo mihi recitaverit ille togatas,

hic elegos? inpune diem consumpserit ingens

Telephus aut summi plena iam margine libri

scriptus et in tergo necdum finitus Orestes?

nota magis nulli domus est sua quam mihi lucus

Martis et Aeoliis vicinum rupibus antrum

Vulcani; quid agant venti, quas torqueat umbras

Aeacus, unde alius furtivae devehat aurum

pelliculae, quantas iaculetur Monychus ornos,

Frontonis platani convolsaque marmora clamant

semper et adsiduo ruptae lectore columnae.

expectes eadem a summo minimoque poeta.

et nos ergo manum ferulae subduximus, et nos

consilium dedimus Sullae, privatus ut altum

dormiret. stulta est clementia, cum tot ubique

vatibus occurras, periturae parcere chartae.

cur tamen hoc potius libeat decurrere campo,

per quem magnus equos Auruncae flexit alumnus,

si vacat ac placidi rationem admittitis, edam.

The text I am using is that of Susanna Morton Braund (Juvenal: Satires Book I [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996]), who brackets line 14 as an interpolation. The image is “Orestes Pursued by the Furies,” by Bourgeureau (1862).

October 6th, 2010 by Chris Francese

The Elephant (Anth. Lat. 187)

Chief of Monsters

Monstrorum princeps, Elephans proboscide saevus

horret mole nigra, dente micat niveo.

sed vario fugienda malo cum belua gliscat,

est tamen excepti mors pretiosa feri.

nam quae conspicimus montani roboris ossa

humanis veniunt usibus apta satis.

consulibus sceptrum, mensis decus, arma tablistis,

discolor et tabulae calculus inde datur.

haec est humanae semper mutatio sortis:

fit moriens ludus, qui fuit ante pavor.

Anth. Lat. 187  (D.R. Shackleton Bailey, Anthologia Latina [Stuttgart: Teubner, 1982], pp. 128-9).

Reise’s slightly different text is here. Excepti (4) is Shackleton Bailey’s nice emendation for the manuscripts’ ex certis, which makes no sense. Montani can mean savage in temperament, like mountain dwellers. Tab(u)lista, -ae (m.) is a rare and late word, not in OLD or Lewis and Short, but it is a sensible enough term for those who play at tabula, a game which, according to Isidore of Seville, involved dice, tower-like pieces, and counters. See DuCange s.v. tabula. As far as I can tell, arma tablistis and tabulae calculus refer to the same game, or type of game.

July 30th, 2010 by francese

The Glory of Spain (Claudian, Laus Serenae 50-69)

In honor of Spain’s recent world cup victory, here’s a bit of Claudian on the glories of Spain (Hispania to the Romans):

Claudian Laus Serenae

Quid dignum memorare tuis, Hispania, terris

vox humana valet? primo levat aequore solem

India: tu fessos exacta luce iugales

proluis inque tuo respirant sidera fluctu.

dives equis, frugum facilis, pretiosa metallis,

principibus fecunda piis, tibi saecula debent           55

Traianum; series his fontibus Aelia fluxit.

hinc senior pater, hinc iuvenum diademata fratrum.

namque aliae gentes, quas foedere Roma recepit

aut armis domuit, varios aptantur in usus

imperii; Phariae segetes et Punica messis       60

castrorum devota cibo; dat Gallia robur

militis; Illyricis sudant equitatibus alae:

sola novum Latiis vectigal Hiberia rebus

contulit Augustos. fruges, aeraria, miles

undique conveniunt totoque ex orbe leguntur:        65

haec generat qui cuncta regant. nec laude virorum

censeri contenta fuit, nisi matribus aeque

vinceret et gemino certatim splendida sexu

Flaccillam Mariamque daret pulchramque Serenam.

On the punctuation of line 57, elucidating the reference to Theodosius the elder, German readers can see here. On the empress Aelia Flavia Flacilla, her daughter Aelia Pulcheria, and Serena herself, see here. And on the very real importance of women of the imperial house in this period, see interestingly here.

June 23rd, 2010 by francese

The Art of Love (Ovid, Ars Amatoria 1.1-24)

Hi everybody! Sorry for the extended hiatus. The summer should bring time for more frequent updates. Hope you enjoy this bit of Ovid. The translation here is my own.

Ov. Ars Amatoria 1.1-24

Siquis in hoc artem populo non novit amandi,

Hoc legat et lecto carmine doctus amet.

Arte citae veloque rates remoque moventur,

Arte leves currus: arte regendus amor.

Curribus Automedon lentisque erat aptus habenis,               5

Tiphys in Haemonia puppe magister erat:

Me Venus artificem tenero praefecit Amori;

Tiphys et Automedon dicar Amoris ego.

Ille quidem ferus est et qui mihi saepe repugnet:

Sed puer est, aetas mollis et apta regi.               10

Phillyrides puerum cithara perfecit Achillem,

Atque animos placida contudit arte feros.

Qui totiens socios, totiens exterruit hostes,

Creditur annosum pertimuisse senem.

Quas Hector sensurus erat, poscente magistro               15

Verberibus iussas praebuit ille manus.

Aeacidae Chiron, ego sum praeceptor Amoris:

Saevus uterque puer, natus uterque dea.

Sed tamen et tauri cervix oneratur aratro,

Frenaque magnanimi dente teruntur equi;               20

Et mihi cedet Amor, quamvis mea vulneret arcu

Pectora, iactatas excutiatque faces.

Quo me fixit Amor, quo me violentius ussit,

Hoc melior facti vulneris ultor ero:

May 20th, 2010 by francese

Heavenly Food (Prudentius, Psychomachia Pref. 29-44)

Here is Brendan Boston reading a section from the iambic preface that Prudentius wrote to his hexameter mini-epic, the Psychomachia, composed around AD 400. It is a fine example of the allegorical interpretation of the Bible that was such an important  feature of ancient and medieval exegesis.  For more on the fascinating allegorical approach of Prudentius, see this brand new review of Marc Mastrangelo’s book on the subject.

Brendan BostonPrudentiusPodcast29-44.mp3

frangit catenas et rapinam liberat:
aurum, puellas, paruulos, monilia,
greges equarum, uasa, uestem, buculas.
Loth ipse ruptis expeditus nexibus
attrita bacis colla liber erigit.
Abram triumphi dissipator hostici
redit recepta prole fratris inclytus
ne quam fidelis sanguinis prosapiam
uis pessimorum possideret principum.
adhuc recentem caede de tanta uirum
donat sacerdos ferculis caelestibus,
dei sacerdos, rex et idem praepotens,
origo cuius fonte inenarrabili
secreta nullum prodit auctorem sui,
Melchisedech, qua stirpe, quis maioribus
ignotus, uni cognitus tantum deo.

May 20th, 2010 by francese

The Peaceful Heart (Prudentius, Psychomachia 779-784)

Here is a recording by Amy Hall of a lovely passage from near the end of Psychomachia (or “Battle within the Soul”), written around AD 400 by the Spanish-born Latin poet Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (whom you may now befriend on Facebook).

Psychomachia 770-784 Amy Hall

pax plenum Virtutis opus, pax summa laborum,
pax belli exacti pretium est pretiumque pericli.
sidera pace uigent, consistunt terrea pace.
nil placitum sine pace deo: non munus ad aram
cum cupias offerre probat, si turbida fratrem
mens inpacati sub pectoris oderit antro,
nec, si flammicomis Christi pro nomine martyr
ignibus insilias seruans inamabile uotum
bile sub obliqua, pretiosam proderit Iesu
inpendisse animam, meriti quia clausula pax est.
non inflata tumet, non inuidet aemula fratri,
omnia perpetitur patiens atque omnia credit,
nunquam laesa dolet, cuncta offensacula donat,
occasum lucis uenia praecurrere gestit,
anxia ne stabilem linquat sol conscius iram.

March 16th, 2010 by francese

Horace, Odes 1.1

Horace, Odes 1.1

Maecenas atauis edite regibus,
o et praesidium et dulce decus meum,
sunt quos curriculo puluerem Olympicum
collegisse iuuat metaque feruidis
euitata rotis palmaque nobilis               5
terrarum dominos euehit ad deos;
hunc, si mobilium turba Quiritium
certat tergeminis tollere honoribus;
illum, si proprio condidit horreo
quicquid de Libycis uerritur areis.               10
Gaudentem patrios findere sarculo
agros Attalicis condicionibus
numquam demoueas, ut trabe Cypria
Myrtoum pauidus nauta secet mare.
Luctantem Icariis fluctibus Africum               15
mercator metuens otium et oppidi
laudat rura sui; mox reficit rates
quassas, indocilis pauperiem pati.
Est qui nec ueteris pocula Massici
nec partem solido demere de die               20
spernit, nunc uiridi membra sub arbuto
stratus, nunc ad aquae lene caput sacrae.
Multos castra iuuant et lituo tubae
permixtus sonitus bellaque matribus
detestata. Manet sub Ioue frigido               25
uenator tenerae coniugis inmemor,
seu uisa est catulis cerua fidelibus,
seu rupit teretis Marsus aper plagas.
Me doctarum hederae praemia frontium
dis miscent superis, me gelidum nemus               30
Nympharumque leues cum Satyris chori
secernunt populo, si neque tibias
Euterpe cohibet nec Polyhymnia
Lesboum refugit tendere barbiton.
Quod si me lyricis uatibus inseres,               35
sublimi feriam sidera uertice.

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