Propertius 1.1

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TheinenGH
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Propertius 1.1

Post by TheinenGH »

I recently started reading elegies, but even though I found Propertius relatively simple to read, I really got stuck in the following couplet of his first elegy:
At vos, deductae quibus est fallacia Lunae
et labor in magicis sacra piare focis,
I understand the hexameter, but not the pentameter. I could get 'labor' as nominative, and 'in magicis [...] focis' . But I could not get the full meaning of the pentameter, nor the grammar in it.

Aetos
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Re: Propertius 1.1

Post by Aetos »

I'm not going to ruin the Latin for you, so I'll just try to show you what's going on the lines:
fallacia and labor are the subjects of a relative clause (quibus est). fallacia is limited by deductae...Lunae, labor has piare as an infinitive in apposition. piare has as its object sacra, and a prepositional phrase in magicis focis. I think if you look it at like that, you'll figure it out. The next line tells you why he's addressing "vos".

mwh
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Re: Propertius 1.1

Post by mwh »

Aetos got in ahead of me, and I won’t tread on his toes. I’ll just add that Thessalian witches notoriously had the ability to draw down the moon with their magic spells. Propertius draws directly on a poem by Theocritus.

I envy you finding Propertius “relatively simple” to read. Let me assure you he’s not. You’d really do better to start with Ovid’s Amores.

RandyGibbons
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Re: Propertius 1.1

Post by RandyGibbons »

If you want to do some deep research into the subject, try Radcliffe Edmonds' just published Drawing Down the Moon: Magic in the Ancient Greco-Roman World.

Aetos
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Re: Propertius 1.1

Post by Aetos »

mwh's contribution introduces an important point: There are often many layers of meaning in a poem. All I showed you was how to read what Propertius wrote, mwh showed you why he used those lines, by giving you some "back story". Quite often, what makes one poet more difficult to read than another has nothing to do with the words as they appear on paper; rather it's the attempt to discover the deeper meaning of those words that can be daunting (but rewarding!). Many, many books have been written on that subject.

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Re: Propertius 1.1

Post by Aetos »

RandyGibbons wrote: Fri Oct 04, 2019 9:44 pm If you want to do some deep research into the subject, try Radcliffe Edmonds' just published Drawing Down the Moon: Magic in the Ancient Greco-Roman World.
Hi Randy,
Thanks for the link! Hopefully it'll being coming to a library near me soon!

TheinenGH
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Re: Propertius 1.1

Post by TheinenGH »

Thank you all for the comments, guys
Especially Aetos with the meaning and Mhw with the suggestion about Ovid
:D

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Constantinus Philo
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Re: Propertius 1.1

Post by Constantinus Philo »

Aetos wrote: Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:30 pm I'm not going to ruin the Latin for you, so I'll just try to show you what's going on the lines:
fallacia and labor are the subjects of a relative clause (quibus est). fallacia is limited by deductae...Lunae, labor has piare as an infinitive in apposition. piare has as its object sacra, and a prepositional phrase in magicis focis. I think if you look it at like that, you'll figure it out. The next line tells you why he's addressing "vos".
Piare is not in opposition but it defines labor, in prose it would be labor sacra piandi, or labor sacrorum piandorum, or maybe labor in sacris piandis
Semper Fidelis

Aetos
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Re: Propertius 1.1

Post by Aetos »

The word is not o-pposition, but a-pposition, which I believe is a correct description of the relationship between labor and piare in this verse. I don't know about you, but at my age, I sometimes have to get about 10 inches from the screen to distinguish an a from an o in certain fonts.

Hylander
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Re: Propertius 1.1

Post by Hylander »

I don't think it's in apposition. Rather, it's predicative: uos quibus . . . labor [est] in magicis sacra piare focis.
at my age, I sometimes have to get about 10 inches from the screen to distinguish an a from an o in certain fonts
.
Me too. And forget about Greek breathings - can't tell the difference.

There's a Renaissance conjecture pellacia ("deceitful") for fallacia here (maybe Joseph Scaliger?). I think the motivation for the conjecture must be that Propertius, in asking for the help of the witches who are able to draw down the moon, would not be calling them "fallacious". But there seems to be little difference between the two words, and like pellax, it would seem that fallax could mean "deceiving the moon" as well as "deceiving those who lend credence to the witches' magical powers. In any event, it would seem consistent with Propertius' bitter irony here that he would call on their assistance in the same breath as he labels them "deceitful" or "fallacious". So I think the conjecture is unwarranted.

I believe Goold adopts this conjecture in his new Loeb, and I have it penciled in my copy of the old OCT from a class I took with him as an undergrad half a century ago.
Bill Walderman

Aetos
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Re: Propertius 1.1

Post by Aetos »

Thanks, Hylander! You know, if I'd seen a commentary on this verse, I'll bet it would have "labor (sc. est),,," as a note. I knew piare complemented labor, but without supplying the est, I saw it as modifying labor through apposition, rather than standing as a predicate expression. In terms of sense, though, the thoughts seem to balance better with "labor [est]".
" But you, whose trick it is...and task it is...".

Thanks for the info on fallacia vs. pellacia. I'd have to agree as well that there is no need to replace fallacia with pellacia. I'm perhaps just conjecturing myself here, but I think fallacia carries a broader range of meaning than pellacia and as you point out, is better suited to conveying the implicit irony of the verse.

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seneca2008
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Re: Propertius 1.1

Post by seneca2008 »

Aetos wrote:You know, if I'd seen a commentary on this verse, I'll bet it would have "labor (sc. est),,," as a note.
Well here is what Camps says:

"19. deductae.. .fallacia lunae: 'the trick of drawing down the moon', fallacia is often used in comedy for the tricks and contrivances of the ingenious slave; in Virg. Georg. iv, 443 it is used of the magic whereby Proteus turns himself into fire, water, animal forms, etc. The value of the genitive deductae... lunae is as in 1, xvii, 7 placatae.. .fortuna procellae, or Virg. Aen. I, 27 spretaeque iniuria formae. The word fallacia suggests of course deceit or illusion, and Propertius may have intended this, for cf. the scepticism of the witches' powers implied in lines 23-4. But the phrase is really ambiguous; a keen analyst may press the distinction between the illusions created by a conjuror and the real miracles performed by a magician, but under which heading shall we classify the falladae of Proteus in Georg. iv,
443?

20. sacra piare: the usual meaning of piare is to appease (divine displeasure) or expiate (a religious offence) by the per- formance of sacra. In its context here and with sacra for object it evidently = 'perform' with a special overtone, very likely the idea of an elaborate and exact ritual.
[The ironical use of a word with holy associations in an unholy context is not un-Propertian; for cf. ill, xix, 17-18 matris iram natorum caede piauit amor.]"

Richardson (Oklahoma Press) Propertius Elegies I-IV 1977 says:

"19 ... By fallacia P. may have wished to point out that Romans generally knew this was only a fraud.

20. sacra piare "to perform sacred rites." piare usually means "to appease"... propitiate.. or expiate, and the phrase here, with sacra almost a cognate accusative, may be an idiom fro speaking dark rites for divinities one does not name. SB thinks the full phrase would be deos (inferos) piando sacra facere."

Every time I look at Propertius I realise what little I know.
Persuade tibi hoc sic esse, ut scribo: quaedam tempora eripiuntur nobis, quaedam subducuntur, quaedam effluunt. Turpissima tamen est iactura, quae per neglegentiam fit. Et si volueris attendere, maxima pars vitae elabitur male agentibus, magna nihil agentibus, tota vita aliud agentibus.

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Re: Propertius 1.1

Post by Aetos »

Thank you, Seneca!
seneca2008 wrote: Sat Jan 04, 2020 7:20 pm Every time I look at Propertius I realise what little I know.
Just think how many discoveries you have ahead of you!

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