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(Quite a few) Questions on Martial, Bk. III

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(Quite a few) Questions on Martial, Bk. III

Postby quickly » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:42 am

I'm having some trouble with Martial III.2 (unfortunately, no the juicy Martial we know and love). Most of the problems start on line 5, and I'm sure they're easy to clear up. I realize the material is beyond my reading level, but I enjoy it anyways.

3.2
Cuius vis fieri, libelle, munus?
festina tibi vindicem parare
ne nigram cito raptus in culinam
cordylas madida tegas papyro
vel turis piperisve sis cucullus. ["sis" + seq. of tenses; what's the diff. between "sis" and "esses" here? I want to translate "become"]
Faustini fugis in sinum? sapisti. [looks like: "you have understood" [my directives]; but not perf. stem, yet perf. endings.]
cedro nunc licet ambules perunctus [I don't know how to translate "licet" alongside the 2nd. subj. verb., unless it means "although"
et frontis gemino decens honore [I am having a hard time understanding what "gemino" is doing here. I would expect it to modify frontis]
pictis luxurieris umbilicis, [=ablative of accompaniment, correct?]
et te purpura delicata velet,
et cocco rubeat superbus index.
illo vindice nec Probum timeto. [=ablative absolute?]


Whose gift to you wish to become, little book?
Hurry to furnish a patron for yourself
lest having been dragged off into a dark kitchen,
you would cover tuna with [your] drenched papyrus,
or are [become?] a wrapper for frankincense and peppers.
You fly into the lap of Faustinus? You have understood [my directives]
[Although] [it is permitted /that?/] you may walk anointed [oiled] with cedar-oil,
and [adorning your brow with honor] [+ gemino]
luxuriate [revel] with your painted scroll-ends,
[both] veil yourself with elegant purple,
[and] your proud title becoming red with scarlet [blushing scarlet].
Having that man [Faustinus] as your protector, you [imperative] will have no fear of even Probum.
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Re: (Quite a few) Questions on Martial, Bk. III

Postby Damoetas » Fri Aug 28, 2009 4:47 pm

I don't know, this Martial seems pretty fun! I suppose it's a matter of taste.... Have you read his Liber Spectaculorum, celebrating the deaths of wild animals and criminals in the arena? It's quite revolting to modern ethical sensibilities :? Anyway:

vel turis piperisve sis cucullus. ["sis" + seq. of tenses; what's the diff. between "sis" and "esses" here? I want to translate "become"]


sis is present subjunctive; this is the tense that's normally used in subordinate clauses when the main clause is present or future. In this case, your main verb festina is a present imperative, so sis is normal. Esses would be used if the main clause were past (which it couldn't be, if it's imperative). (EDIT: you could have an indirect command in the past: Te monui ne turis piperisve esses cucullus, 'I warned you not to be a wrapper for frankincense and peppers.') I think it's fine to translate it as 'become' in this sentence: 'so that you won't be' = 'lest you enter the state of being' = 'so that you won't become.'

Faustini fugis in sinum? sapisti. [looks like: "you have understood" [my directives]; but not perf. stem, yet perf. endings.]


This is one of those so-called "syncopated forms." It's perfect, sapīvistī, but it's shortened to sapīstī.

cedro nunc licet ambules perunctus [I don't know how to translate "licet" alongside the 2nd. subj. verb., unless it means "although"


Licet is sometimes used with a dative + infinitive: Hoc tibi facere licet 'you may do this,' 'it is permitted for you to do this.' But it can also be used with an ut clause + subjunctive, or simply a subjunctive: Hoc facias licet.

et frontis gemino decens honore [I am having a hard time understanding what "gemino" is doing here. I would expect it to modify frontis]


It looks like 'adorned with the double honor of your brow,' i.e. gemino modifies honore. I'm not sure precisely what this would mean in context; perhaps something about the book being rolled at both ends?

pictis luxurieris umbilicis, [=ablative of accompaniment, correct?]
illo vindice nec Probum timeto. [=ablative absolute?]


Yes and yes. The future imperative (e.g. timeto) is generally used when the sentence contains some kind of conditional or temporal expression indicating when (in the future) the action is to take place. In this case, illo vindice, as your translation indicates.
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Re: (Quite a few) Questions on Martial, Bk. III

Postby quickly » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:24 pm

Damoetes: I never doubted that Martial (or even this particular piece!) was fun; he is probably the most entertaining classical author I've read so far - and far more than Ceasar's infinitely tedious, but occasionally entertaining, de Bello Gallico, which reads in parts like somebody spliced an introduction to geometry textbook into the war machine's record. I do have a copy of Liver Spectaculorum (which came with Bk. II), and it makes great use of verbs such as lacerare :o I was thinking of "juicy Martial" e.g.:

omni quod scribis castis epigrammata verbis
inque tuis nulla est mentula carminibus,
admiror, laudo; nihil est te sanctius uno:
at mea luxuria pagina nulla vacat.
...
at tua, Cosconi, venerandaque sanctaque verba
a pueris debent virginibusque legi [III.69]

Which, of course, is an excellent and witty reply to prudish sensibilities everywhere. I especially love the last two lines.

sis is present subjunctive; this is the tense that's normally used in subordinate clauses when the main clause is present or future...festina is a present imperative, so sis is normal.

That makes sense; I was confused, then, and mistakenly read the participle as a verbal governing sis, without realizing festina governed the sequence of tenses and the participle doesn't get to be a verb.

Licet is sometimes used with a dative + infinitive...[or] an ut clause + subjunctive, or simply a subjunctive.

Okay. So then the line reads "licet nunc ambules [cedro perunctus]" - you may now walk anointed with cedar-oil. I assume that licet, in this case, is reinforcing the present subjunctive of ambulo.

I think the "honore gemino frontis" refers to the painted bosses of scroll cylinders. Your explanation makes sense, it just sounds odd.

Thank you very much.
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Re: (Quite a few) Questions on Martial, Bk. III

Postby adrianus » Sat Aug 29, 2009 1:26 am

quickly wrote:I think the "honore gemino frontis" refers to the painted bosses of scroll cylinders.

Ad margines paginae/libri res spectat sed ob umbilicos. To the scroll/page edges/margins but on account of the roller ends.

Having been smeared/coated in cedar oil [1], you may now go about
and handsome [2] in the double attractive appearance of the edge[s] [3],
from your decorated roller ends you should revel,
and let your sumptuous purple cloth enfold you,
and your label [4] be reddened splendidly with cochineal [5]

1. Against bookworm // Oleum quod contra tineas tegit.
2. Participle with -ens when an adjective takes the genitive?—not necessarily here. // Participium per "ens" quod pro adjectivum stat casui genetivo servit?—sic non necessariè hîc intellegendum sit.
3. The page edges/margins are called the frontes. // Frontibus nomine vocantur margines paginae.
4. The title tag which hangs from the roll's cover. // Qui index de purpurâ pendet.
5. Scarlet ink. // Pigmentum purpureum.
Martial is so beautifully concrete, not flowery. // Quam formosissimè modo concreto non florido scribit Martialis.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: (Quite a few) Questions on Martial, Bk. III

Postby Damoetas » Sat Aug 29, 2009 6:48 pm

Re: Caesar, I love what G. B. Conte says in Latin Literature: A History (1994):
Especially starting in the nineteenth century, the De Bello Gallico has become one of the standard school texts for beginning students of Latin prose, not only because of its deceptively easy style, perhaps, but also because it treats matters of national interest to French, German, and English readers and provides models of dedication to the state and obedience to authority. We cannot know how many potential readers Caesar has thereby lost. (232)

Anyway, back to Martial:
quickly wrote:I assume that licet, in this case, is reinforcing the present subjunctive of ambulo.

You could say that, although I'm not sure that's the best way to think of it. I would say that ambules is subjunctive because of licet. If the author had used a bare subjunctive form in this context (cedro nunc ambules perunctus), it would most likely be interpreted as a command (jussive): 'Now walk anointed with cedar oil,' or else potential, as half of a conditional sentence with the protasis implied: '(If such and such were to happen), you would walk anointed with cedar oil.' But licet + subjunctive (or + dative and infinitive) is really the most common way of expressing permission. And this idea of permission is found in licet itself, which requires the subjunctive; it's not that it's in the subjunctive and needs to be reinforced with licet. This might seem like nitpicking, but I think it makes it easier to interpret subjunctives when you see them in other contexts.

Thanks, Adrianus, for clarifying what all the technical terms mean! It's amazing how much difference it makes when you know exactly what the words are referring to....
Dic mihi, Damoeta, 'cuium pecus' anne Latinum?
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Re: (Quite a few) Questions on Martial, Bk. III

Postby quickly » Fri Sep 04, 2009 7:56 am

Sorry for being so late. adrianus: as always, your answer is spectacular. I practically copied verbatim your notes next to the Martial piece: the poem is far clearer knowing the exact reference of these phrases. When I was reading, I assumed that the cedar-oil must have been a ritual practice of some type - of course, like Martial, the more practical reason is much simpler! I looked at an English translation recently, and it's interesting how these details get "glossed over" to some extent when reading in one's native language - in Latin, of course, this is harder.

damoetas: the excerpt is very interesting. You might also enjoy this article, if you haven't come across it already. Your explanation makes perfect sense: I just came across an explanation of licet in Wheelock's, and this also helped.
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