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Horace Carmen 1.2 line 21

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Horace Carmen 1.2 line 21

Postby GJCaesar » Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:39 pm

''audiet civis acuisse ferrum, quo graves Persae melius perirent, audiet pugnas vitio parentum rara iuventus''

So I stumbled upon this - in my eyes - rather difficult grammatical line.

My question is: what is the subject of the first audiet (some say it should be civis, but to me this makes no sense. I believe rara iuventus is twice the subject, of both audiet forms.)? Then, the following question automatically arises: why acuisse? Shouldn't this be some sort of participle construction, which normally follows a verbum sentiendi? My best guess is that we are dealing with an A.c.I.- construction after the first audiet (civis can be scanned as cives, so possibly the subject in the A.c.I., which would give ferrum as the object in the A.c.I.)?! And then the second audiet governs a 'normal' object in the accusative.. (nice variatio there Horace) :shock:

Questions questions questions .. And Quinn doens't answer them, nor does West, Fraenkel or Nisbett-Hubbard.
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Re: Horace Carmen 1.2 line 21

Postby adrianus » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:36 pm

Anglicè ut opinor
..."audiet civis acuisse ferrum, quo graves Persae melius perirent, audiet pugnas vitio parentum rara iuventus''

"Sparse youth, by fault of their parents will hear battles, will hear citizens [ut tu suades] have sharpened the sword, so that [/by which] the damned Persians might better meet their ends."
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: Horace Carmen 1.2 line 21

Postby Qimmik » Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:29 am

"I believe rara iuventus is twice the subject, of both audiet forms." Right. Your analysis is essentially correct.

Civis is an i-stem accusative plural, the subject of the infinitive acuisse.

Rara iuventus vitio parentum -- a younger generation ("youth") [which will be] sparse (rara) by the fault of their parents (vitio parentum -- i.e., as a result of their parents killing one another in the civil wars)

will learn (audiet -- literally, "hear")

that the citizens sharpened iron (weapons) (civis acuisse ferum, i.e., to use on one another),

by which (quo, i.e., the sharpened iron weapons)

the troublesome Persians (graves Persae) (the Parthians, at war with the Roman empire during this period)

would have better perished (melius perirent, i.e., it would have been better to have used the sharpened weapons on the Parthians than on their fellow Roman citizens);

[the younger generation] will learn (audiet) of battles (pugnas).

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=AG+67&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0001

audiet isn't really a verb of perception here--it's used in the sense of learn, so the accusative + infinitive construction seems more suitable. But in any event Horace often stretches syntax for brevity and concision.

"And then the second audiet governs a 'normal' object in the accusative.. (nice variatio there Horace)" Exactly.

He saves rara iuventus for the last line of the Sapphic stanza (the adonic), giving the idea that the population will have been whittled down by internecine slaughter a special poignance. The word order is distorted--you don't know what the subject of the two audiets will be (it confused you a little, but you got it right in the end), or where he's going with vitio parentum, until he hits you with rara iuventus at the end.
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Re: Horace Carmen 1.2 line 21

Postby GJCaesar » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:33 am

Thank you for the excellent comment. It is miraculous how, on Perseus, civis (nom sg.) has 12 votes, while civis (acc pl.) only has 4 votes. I normally don't look at these kind of numbers, but the difference was too big to be neglected. But I guess you/I got it right, though I needed some more insight from your point of view :wink: . This is a perfect example of how few people really understand these poems, let alone understand the syntax, which is, as you said, often dense and difficult to comprehense.

Then I was also confused about this English translation:
''He will harken to sharpen iron against his citizens''

Isn't this completely wrong? Maybe you can elaborate, since I'm not a native..
Looks to me as if this translator was a bit confused, and thought that ''civis'' is dative plural in the 2nd declination of nouns (like ''dominis''?), where it's a noun in the 3rd declination (dat. pl. civibus)..

It can be confusing, translating Latin poems into Dutch with sometimes peeking at the English translations.
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Re: Horace Carmen 1.2 line 21

Postby Qimmik » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:46 am

"Isn't this completely wrong?" Yes.

"It is miraculous how, on Perseus, civis (nom sg.) has 12 votes, while civis (acc pl.) only has 4 votes." The Perseus word study tool is highly unreliable.
Last edited by Qimmik on Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Horace Carmen 1.2 line 21

Postby Qimmik » Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:09 pm

Reading Latin poetry is a skill that takes time to acquire. The Roman poets exploit the freedom of Latin word order--which allows even more radical dislocations than Greek because of the lack of articles--to pattern sentences expressively in ways that are contrary to normal expectations (e.g., hyperbaton, wrenching adjectives from their nouns for expressive effect). Over time readers become alert to these devices.

In Horace's Odes, the lines are shorter than hexameters, requiring radical compression, and he carries expressive dislocations of normal word order and unusual syntax to extremes. This shouldn't be thought of as "poetic licence", i.e., bending language to fit the meter, but rather as an integral and inextricable part of his art, saying as much as possible with as few words as possible.
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Re: Horace Carmen 1.2 line 21

Postby GJCaesar » Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:50 am

I agree completely. The only way to get used to the 'devices' these poets use, is by practicing a lot of poems, preferably from different authors (Propertius, Horace, Tibullus, and so on). The vast number of commentaries on the poems certainly shouldn't demotivate one to start reading Latin poems.
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Re: Horace Carmen 1.2 line 21

Postby GJCaesar » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:34 pm

Qimmik wrote: "It is miraculous how, on Perseus, civis (nom sg.) has 12 votes, while civis (acc pl.) only has 4 votes." The Perseus word study tool is highly unreliable.


I do agree with this, however it can be useful in some cases, like determining the origin of verbs. It's a bit like the Chicago Homer, which is way more precise in its data, but then for a bigger part of the Greek corpus. But since so many people use it, the vote system doens't work AT ALL, being used by too many users that are unfamiliar with Latin and/or Greek syntax.
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