March 14th, 2012 by Chris Francese

Sulpicius Severus, Life of St. Martin

It’s prose, not poetry, but I just finished recording the complete Life of St. Martin, Bishop of Tours (AD 316 or 317-397), written by Sulpicius Severus (ca. AD 363 – ca. 425). You can listen to the audio by clicking on the “media” tab at the right of each chapter on this site. The text will remain visible. Hope you enjoy. It’s a fascinating work.

January 24th, 2012 by Chris Francese

Horace’s Lyric Meters 2: Sapphic (Odes 1.2)

This is the second in a series dealing with Horace’s lyric meters. The previous installment covered Asclepiadeans. This one discusses the Sapphic stanza, so named because of its association with Sappho, the famous Greek lyric poet.

Odes 1.2 is summarized as follows by Nisbet and Hubbard: God has sent enough ill-omened weather. We begin to be afraid that the age of the Flood might return. We have seen the avenging Tiber make for the temple of Vesta; our descendants will hear that we fought each other instead of the Parthians. To which of the gods will the people and Vestals turn for succour? Who will expiate our sin? Come and save us, Apollo, or Venus, or Mars. Or perhaps Mercury is already here on earth in the guise of a young man, condescending to be known as Caesar’s avenger. May you live long amongst us, and take vengeance on the Parthians–Caesar. A translation can be found here.

There is an excellent article on Sapphics by Andrew Becker of Virginia Tech that I heartily recommend to anybody interested in Latin metrics or performance: “Listening to Lyric: Accent and Ictus in the Latin Sapphic Stanza,” Classical World 103.2 (2010), 159-182. It’s not freely available on the internet, but very much worth tracking down (more info. about Classical World is here). I follow his approach closely. The English Sapphics I quote come from John Greene, “A Practical method of Presenting the Lyric Meters of Horace,” Classical Journal 4.3 (1909), 116-123, at p. 120.

Horace, Odes 1.2

Iam satis terris nivis atque dirae
grandinis misit pater et rubente
dextera sacras iaculatus arces
terruit urbem,

terruit gentes, grave ne rediret 5
saeculum Pyrrhae nova monstra questae,
omne cum Proteus pecus egit altos
visere montis

piscium et summa genus haesit ulmo,
nota quae sedes fuerat columbis, 10
et superiecto pavidae natarunt
aequore dammae.

vidimus flavom Tiberim retortis
litore Etrusco violenter undis
ire deiectum monumenta regis 15
templaque Vestae,

Iliae dum se nimium querenti
iactat ultorem, vagus et sinistra
labitur ripa Iove non probante u-
xorius amnis. 20

audiet cives acuisse ferrum,
quo graves Persae melius perirent,
audiet pugnas vitio parentum
rara iuventus.

quem vocet divum populus ruentis 25
imperi rebus? prece qua fatigent
virgines sanctae minus audientem
carmina Vestam?

cui dabit partis scelus expiandi
Iuppiter? tandem venias precamur 30
nube candentis umeros amictus
augur Apollo;

sive tu mavis, Erycina ridens,
quam Iocus circum volat et Cupido;
sive neglectum genus et nepotes 35
respicis auctor,

heu nimis longo satiate ludo,
quem iuvat clamor galeaeque leves
acer et Marsi peditis cruentum
vultus in hostem; 40

sive mutata iuvenem figura
ales in terris imitaris almae
filius Maiae patiens vocari
Caesaris ultor,

serus in caelum redeas diuque 45
laetus intersis populo Quirini,
neve te nostris vitiis iniquum
ocior aura

tollat: hic magnos potius triumphos,
hic ames dici pater atque princeps, 50
neu sinas Medos equitare inultos
te duce, Caesar.


January 20th, 2012 by Chris Francese

Horace’s lyric meters: Asclepiadeans (Odes 1.1)

Herewith a re-do of a poem I have done on an earlier podcast, this time with special attention to the meter. It is part of a series on Horace’s lyric meters. This installment focuses on a meter that scholars call variously Asclepiads, asclepiadeans, the First Asclepiad, and the Lesser Asclepiad. The name is given by ancient grammarians, and evidently derives from a certain Greek poet named Asclepiades, though which one and why are unclear. I generally hate the cryptic way textbooks and scholarly publications deal with Latin meters, but there is one article I found helpful in thinking about this one, Leon Richardson, “On the Form of Horace’s Lesser Asclepiads, ” America Journal of Philology 22 (1901) 283-296 (look past the outdated terminology and check out the stats on sense pauses, ictus and accent, word length, and ‘compactness’) . There is a reasonably literal  translation of the poem here. Hope you enjoy, and do leave a comment if you would like to.

Horace, Odes 1.1new

Maecenas atavis edite regibus,
o et praesidium et dulce decus meum:
sunt quos curriculo pulverem Olympicum
collegisse iuvat metaque fervidis
evitata rotis palmaque nobilis 5
terrarum dominos evehit ad deos;
hunc, si mobilium turba Quiritium
certat tergeminis tollere honoribus;
illum, si proprio condidit horreo
quidquid de Libycis verritur areis. 10
gaudentem patrios findere sarculo
agros Attalicis condicionibus
numquam demoveas, ut trabe Cypria
Myrtoum pavidus 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 veteris pocula Massici
nec partem solido demere de die 20
spernit, nunc viridi membra sub arbuto
stratus, nunc ad aquae lene caput sacrae;
multos castra iuvant et lituo tubae
permixtus sonitus bellaque matribus
detestata; manet sub Iove frigido 25
venator tenerae coniugis inmemor,
seu visa est catulis cerva fidelibus,
seu rupit teretes Marsus aper plagas.
me doctarum hederae praemia frontium
dis miscent superis, me gelidum nemus 30
Nympharumque leves cum Satyris chori
secernunt populo, si neque tibias
Euterpe cohibet nec Polyhymnia
Lesboum refugit tendere barbiton.
quodsi me lyricis vatibus inseres, 35
sublimi feriam sidera vertice.


September 22nd, 2011 by Chris Francese

Not Going Back There (Phaedrus, Fables 1.18)

Phaedrus Fables 1.18

Nemo libenter recolit qui laesit locum.
Instante partu mulier actis mensibus
humi iacebat flebilis gemitus ciens.
Vir est hortatus, corpus lecto reciperet,
onus naturae melius quo deponeret.
“Minime”, inquit, “illo posse confido loco
malum finiri, quo conceptum est initio.”

Phaedrus, Fables 1.18. Text: Giannina Solimano, ed. Fedro: Favole (n.p.: Garzanti, 1996)

Francesco Furini (1600-1646), Rachel Giving Birth to Joseph


August 12th, 2011 by Chris Francese

Repaying Student debt

The first step in repaying student debt is knowing what you owe and what you don’t. The most frequently asked question we get is, “How much do I owe?” The answer is $1,100.

The repayment calculator below will show you what your student loan balance is and how much you can pay each month. This includes your federal, private, and private student loans as well as your Stafford loans, PLUS loans, and Perkins loans. You can select a payment payment, a fixed monthly payment, or a payment plan that you have already negotiated with your loan servicer.

You can make your payment or the payment plan with your loan servicer by:

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If you pay using student loans, you can choose a payment schedule for all of your federal student loans, private student loans, and federal Stafford loans. If you don’t have student loans, you can choose your repayment plan by using your Direct Loan, Direct Consolidation Loan, and Direct Subsidized Loan payments. If you pay using any other payment, you’ll be able to customize your payments with income-based, income-contingent, or income-driven repayment plans.

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If you’ve applied to and been approved for one of our income-driven repayment plans, you should receive your first payment in mid-May. Your monthly payment for the rest of the year will be based on your income and the amount you’ve borrowed.

For your first payment, you will see your payment amount, including any balance owed. Depending on your income, you may have to make additional payments after that.

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Your student loan payment will continue to increase until you make enough progress toward repaying your loan that you are no longer in default or if your loan is canceled. For those struggling to pay off their student loans, we suggest looking into programs to refinancing student loans.

In some cases, you may be able to cancel your loan for a variety of reasons, including changing jobs or attending school in a different state. Here’s how to cancel your loan.

July 22nd, 2011 by Chris Francese

The Fall of Rome

“De mutata Romae fortuna,” incerti auctoris, ed. N. E. Lemaire, Poetae Latini Minores vol. 4 (Paris, 1825), pp. 537-538.

Romulus Augustulus Deposed

Romulus Augustulus Deposed

De mutata Romae fortuna

Nobilibus quondam fueras cōnstructa patrōnīs
subdita nunc servis, heu, male Roma tuis.
Deseruere tui tanto te tempore reges;
cessit et ad Graecos nomen honosque tuus.
Cōnstantīnopolis florens, nova Roma vocatur,                                  5
moribus et muris Roma vetusta cadis.
Transiit imperium, mansitque superbia tecum;
cultus avaritiae te nimium superat.
Vulgus ab extremis distractum partibus orbis,
servorum servi, nunc tibi sunt domini.                                       10
In te nobilium rectorum nemo remansit,
ingenuique tui rura Pelasga colunt.
Truncasti vivos crudeli funere sanctos,
vendere nunc horum mortua membra soles.
Nam nisi te meritum Petri Paullique foveret,                                  15
tempore iam longo Roma misella fores.

My translation:

Once upon a time you had been built up by noble patrons; now, alas, Rome, you are shamefully subjected to your (former) slaves (i.e. the Goths). The emperors who ruled here for such a long time have abandoned you, and your name and title have been ceded to the Greeks. Flourishing Constantinople is called the New Rome, and old Rome is falling, in both the walls and the character (of its people). Political power has moved along, and your haughty attitude has remained with you; the pursuit of avarice is too much your downfall. A rabble drawn from the furthest regions of the earth, the slaves of slaves, are now your masters. None of the old noble leaders has stayed with you, and your native born sons tend Greek lands. You  mained, mutilated and cruelly killed living saints; now you often set up a trade in pieces of their dead bodies. For if you were not keeping alive the memory of the good deeds of Peter and Paul, you would long ago have become a sad little town.

The Gibbonesque quote about men’s minds being “pusillanimous, gloomy, and spiritless” comes from The Life and Letters of Barthold George Niebuhr, and Selections from his Minor Writings, ed. Susanna Winkworth, 2nd ed., vol. 3 (London: Chapman and Hall, 1852), pp. 282-283, in an essay called “Sketch of the History of the City of Rome,” written in 1823.




June 12th, 2011 by Chris Francese

The Wrath of Iarbas (Vergil, Aeneid 4.196-218)

The Wrath of Iarbas

protinus ad regem cursus detorquet Iarban
incenditque animum dictis atque aggerat iras.

Hic Hammone satus rapta Garamantide nympha
templa Iovi centum latis immania regnis,
centum aras posuit vigilemque sacraverat ignem,               200
excubias diuum aeternas, pecudumque cruore
pingue solum et variis florentia limina sertis.
isque amens animi et rumore accensus amaro
dicitur ante aras media inter numina divum
multa Iovem manibus supplex orasse supinis:               205
‘Iuppiter omnipotens, cui nunc Maurusia pictis
gens epulata toris Lenaeum libat honorem,
aspicis haec? an te, genitor, cum fulmina torques
nequiquam horremus, caecique in nubibus ignes
terrificant animos et inania murmura miscent?               210
femina, quae nostris errans in finibus urbem
exiguam pretio posuit, cui litus arandum
cuique loci leges dedimus, conubia nostra
reppulit ac dominum Aenean in regna recepit.
et nunc ille Paris cum semiviro comitatu,                215
Maeonia mentum mitra crinemque madentem
subnexus, rapto potitur: nos munera templis
quippe tuis ferimus famamque fovemus inanem.’

Carthage and Garama, main town of the nomadic Garamantes. Numidia, home of Iarbas,  was to the north of Garama, and to the west of Carthage.

Egypt and Siwa, the oasis with the famous temple of  Ammon, whom the Greeks and Romans identified with Zeus/Jupiter

Provinces of the Roman Empire, showing Numidia, home of Iarbas, and Mauretania to the west.

Translation (by Francese with lots of help from R.G. Austin (P. Vergili Maronis Aeneidos Liber Quartus [Oxford 1955], pp. 75 ff.):

Immediately Rumor turned her course to King Iarbas and she inflamed his mind with her words and heaped up his rage. This man, sprung from Hammon, on the ravishing of a Garamantian nymph built a hundred huge temples in his wide realm (Numidia), a hundred altars, and he had sanctified an eternal fire, sentinel of the gods everlasting, and the ground was thick with the blood of sacrificial animals, the entrances all aglow with gay garlands. And he, utterly distraught of mind, and enraged by the sour rumor, is said to have prayed much to Jupiter as a suppliant before the altars in the very presence of the majesty of the gods with his hands turned upward:

“All-powerful Jupiter, to whom the Maurusian race offers the wine-god’s rich libations as it holds banquets on multi-colored couches: do you see these things? Can it be in vain, my father, that we shiver as you whirl your thunderbolts? Are they blind, those flames among the clouds that make our hearts to quake? Is it empty mutterings that they stir? A woman, who while wandering in our territory founded a puny city for a price, to whom we gave a piece of shore to plough and conditions of holding it, she has thrust away our marriage proposal and taken Aeneas into her realm as her master. And now, that Paris with his half-man retinue, his chin and essences hair wound about with a Lydian turban, enjoys what he has filched, while we keep bringing presents to your shrines—yes, to yours—and coddle your great name, for nothing.”



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.


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