Horace and Ovid: 2 questions

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mind
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Horace and Ovid: 2 questions

Post by mind » Wed May 04, 2005 7:20 am

1. In Horace's Carmen III, 30 (Exegi monumentum) I understand most of the text, except for the last sentence:

Sume superbiam
Quaesitam meritis et mihi Delphica
Lauro cinge volens, Melpomene, comam.

Could someone, please, give me a quck tour on the cases used here (esp. 'meritis') and give me a literal translation?

2. In Ovid's Tristia III, X, I got lost in the following sentence:

Pellibus et sutis arcent mala frigora bracis,
oraque de toto corpore sola patent.

There are two ablativi here, 'pellibus et sutis' and 'bracis'. At least one of them is instrumentalis. What is the second one?

Thanks!
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amans
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Post by amans » Wed May 04, 2005 8:32 am

Salve mind,

Sume superbiam
Quaesitam meritis et mihi Delphica
Lauro cinge volens, Melpomene, comam.


My litteral translation goes:

Use loftiness won by merits and gird, willing*, the hair for me, Melpomene, with Delphic laurel.

*being of a willing disposition, being willing in spirit

Here are my comments:

sume is the verb and has a direct object in the accusative: superbiam quaesitam, where quaesitam works as a participium coniunctum. The meritis is certainly an ablative and describes the particple quaesitam: it could, as I have done, be interpreted as instrumentalis.

In the second part you have cinge as the verb and volens is an apposition, describing the implied tu of cinge further. Melpomene is, of course, vocativus. comam is a direct object. Again, there's an ablativus instrumenti: delphica lauro. Note that laurus is a femininum of the 2nd declension (!) Finally, mihi is the indirect object of cinge.

I hope this helps. I'll be back later for Ovidius :)

Interaxus
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Post by Interaxus » Fri May 06, 2005 3:59 am

Salve Mind,

... Sume superbiam
Quaesitam meritis et mihi Delphica
Lauro cinge volens, Melpomene, comam.


Thanks for inspiring me to take another look at Horace’s Ode 3.30. I used to have a problem with its ’boasting’ tone but now I think I can get inside the poetical convention and see what he’s driving at, which is a celebration of the (amazing) longevity of certain verbal artifacts compared with seemingly more robust materials used in sculpture and architecture. In fact his best poems - chiselled in Latin – have no use-by date and are as he says new to each new reader.

In one respect he seems at first sight to have got it wrong. He says he’ll be around as long as Roman civilization which as we all know crumbled a long time ago. But of course he equated Rome with civilization. All we have to do is take out ’Roman’ and the statement is as true as ever: he’s set to be around as long as civilization exists. The poem is in fact a dialogue between us and time. It’s an assertion of human aspirations in the face of time’s destruction.

There’s lots of other things in the poem. For example, Horace comes across as something of a proto-American, extolling the virtues of the self-made man.

As for the line you quote... Literal translations are essential to understanding the mechanics of Latin poetry but woefully inadequate when it comes to getting at the sense (no offence intended, Amans!). Paraphrases can sometimes explain the poem better. But of course in the end one always has to go back to the original.

Here is a mixed bag of translations (some ridiculous, some useful) that I have garnered from various books out of pure curiosity (they include a British 19th century prime minister and a controversial 20th century American poet):

Take, Melpomene, the glory procured by thy merits and in thy kindness wreathe my locks with Delphic laurel. (Penguin 1962)

... Forth then for well-earned prize outreach
Thy hand, Melpomené, and deign to lay
Upon my locks chaplet of Delphic bay!
(Marshall 1908)

Assume, my Melpomene, the pride of place your merits have won, and with the Delphic laurel graciously bind my hair. (Lonsdale and Lee 1873)

Melpomene, with pride thou hast deserved,
With laurel out of Delphi wreathe my hair.
(Lord Dunsany 1947)

... Take hard-won pride
in your success, Melpomene, and willingly
wreathe my hair with Apollo’s laurel.

So take a special pride in these deserts;
Grant me the Delphic laurel willingly,
And crown my hair with it, Melpomene.
(Stuart Lyons 1996)

Be proud, Melpomene, for you deserve
What praise I have, and unreluctantly
Garland my forehead with Apollo’s laurel.
(James Michie 1963)

Melpomene, look kindly on the honor
The Muse has won for me, and graciously
Place on my head the garland of Delphic laurel.
(David Ferry 1997)

... Accept the high honors
I have won by your kindness, and graciously crown
my hair, Melpomene, with Apollo’s laurel.
(Joseph P. Clancy 1960)

Take on the pride earned by meritorious actions and willing, Melpomene, encircle my hair with Delphic laurel. (Ronnie Ancona 2000)

Be bold, my Muse! To claim the just Renown,
They merits and Immortal Lays have won;
And deck they poet with a Laurel Crown.
(William Oldisworth 1713)

So take thine honours earned by deeds;
And graciously do thou,
Melpomeneè, with Delphic bays
Adorn thy poet’s brow.
(W. E. Gladstone 1863)

Wear pride, work’s gain! O Muse Melpomene,
By your will bind the laurel.
My hair, Delphic laurel.
(Ezra Pound 1964)

Accept the proud honour won by thy merits, Melpomene, and graciously crown my locks with Delphic bays / Accept, O Muse, the tribute richly earned, and crown my locks with Apöllo’s bays. (Bennett 1952/1934)

Melpomene, assume the pride (of place) acquired by they merits, and propitiously wreathe my hair with Delphian bay. (Hinds 1894)

Melpomene, assume a proud self-esteem, acquired (deserved) through merits, and bind graciously my hair with with Delphic laurel (”The Muse of Poetry can be proud of what the poet achieved with her help”). (J. Dahlstein 1883)

Among various notes, I find the following:

The ode ends, as it began, on a note of irony, to offset the magnitude of H.’s claim and to reinforce the ingenuity and wit with which the claim is formulated. The Muse is imagined as standing with the garland of bay leaves (a symbol of poetic achievement) ready. Horace bids her get on with the job.
(Kenneth Quinn 1980)

Sume superbiam quaesitam meritis = 'assume the majestic, haughty look my achievements call for'.
quaesitam meritis = asked for because it is deserved
quaesitam meritis = won by your merits
sume superbiam = accept the proud honor (since thou hast inspired me)
sume superbiam = take honourable pride
volens = let there be no show of reluctance.
volens = graciously

Any help?

It would be interesting to see your own final translation of the whole of this short poem, Mind. :)

Cheers,
Int

amans
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Post by amans » Fri May 06, 2005 12:37 pm

Salve, kompis Interaxe

None taken :) I agree: I offered a rather literal translation in order to explain the mechanics of grammar. But of course, one has to revive the poem in a modern language. What an impressive list you've compiled!!! :D

Interaxus
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Post by Interaxus » Fri May 06, 2005 12:39 pm

Oops! Excuse typos, especially 'they' for 'thy' in the Oldisworth rendition. :oops:

Int

mind
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Post by mind » Sat May 07, 2005 8:16 am

Thank you very much. Having read the literal translation, I forgot what problems I have had with the grammatical structure, and the poetical translations made the meaning, which was not so obvious from the literal translation, clear.

My translation? No, I have a better way to thank you :). You may know that one of the best known poems of Alexander Pushkin, 'The Monument', was inspired by Horace. This poem is written on the monument to Pushkin in Moscow. It was translated to Latin by Roman Ciesiulevicz. Here it is:

Monumentum. Alexander Puschkin.

Nobile carmen Russicum Latine reddidit Romanus Ciesiulevicz anno MCMLXX.

Exegi monumentum haud manibus datum,
Non incognita quo gentis erit via,
Erectum capite est indomito altius
Quam celsum columen ducis.

Non omnis moriar, namque anima in lyra
Restabit celebrata effugiens situm;
Atque illustris ero sidere sub vago,
Dum quis carmina concinet.

Clarum cuncta patens Russia me feret,
Nomen quaeque meum gens dabit in plagis:
Proles Sarmatica et Finnus et efferus
Tungus vastaque qui tenet.

Et longe populo gratus ero meo,
Flectebam quos amans usque animos probus,
Atque aetate gravi libera vox mea
Cantabat miseros lyra.

Audi, Musa, piae justitiae Dei,
Nec damnum metuens, nec decus appetens,
Laudes aeque cape et sperne calumniam,
Noli cum stupido loqui.

(Vita Latina, 43, 1971, p.39)

PS: So, what about Ovid's ablatives? :)
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Interaxus
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Post by Interaxus » Sat May 07, 2005 11:22 pm

Salve Mind,

Thanks for the Pushkin done to Latin. Only the other day I came across Vladimir Nobokov’s 1944 English translation of Pushkin’s original Russian. Interesting to compare perhaps:

No hands have wrought my monument; no weeds
will hide the nation's footpath to its site.
Tsar Alexander's column it exceeds
in splendid insubmissive height.

"Not all of me is dust. Within my song,
safe from the worm, my spirit will survive,
and my sublunar fame will dwell as long
as there is one last bard alive.

"Throughout great Rus' my echoes will extend,
and all will name me, all tongues in her use:
the Slavs' proud heir, the Finn, the Kalmuk, friend
of steppes, the yet untamed Tunguz.

"And to the people long shall I be dear
because kind feelings did my lyre extoll,
invoking freedom in an age of fear,
and mercy for the broken soul."

Obey thy God, and never mind, O Muse,
the laurels or the stings: make it thy rule
to be unstirred by praise as by abuse,
and do not contradict the fool.

As for your Ovid question:

Pellibus et sutis arcent mala frigora bracis,
oraque de toto corpore sola patent.

There are two ablativi here, 'pellibus et sutis' and 'bracis'. At least one of them is instrumentalis. What is the second one?


Horace is not the only one to separate parts of phrases in a line of poetry. ’sutis’ is a past participle (sewn/stitched) qualifying ’bracis’ (trousers). ’They ward off (arcent) the evil cold (mala frigora) with skins and stitched trousers (pellibus et sutis bracis = thus 3 ablative endings!). Ovid is moaning about the uncouth tribes he has to live among in his Black Sea exile. Here’s Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s translation:

Wrapped in skins, and with trousers sewed, they contend with the weather,
And their faces alone of the whole body are seen.

Hmmm. Reminds me too much of the long Swedish winter.

Here’s a curious site I came across with more info on these particular Ovid lines:

http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/latindays/ ... htm#_ftn19

Cheers,
Int

mind
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Post by mind » Wed May 11, 2005 6:25 am

A Past Participle... Aha. And the dictionary at the end of my coursebook said that it was a noun, something like leather, very close to 'pellis'. How could I have forgotten to look in another dictionary...

Thanks for the link, it was very useful to review these verses once again with such detailed instructions.
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