Two fun lines from Ovid!

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leisulin
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Two fun lines from Ovid!

Post by leisulin »

dumque vigil Phrygios servat custodia muros
et vigil Argolicas servat custodia fossas... (Metamorphoses, 12.148-9)

"And while a watchful watch keeps watch over the Phrygian walls and a watchful watch keeps watch over the Greek trenches..."

I love Ovid! He occasionally repeats similar phrases playfully like this, but this is the first time I've seen him combine that with the use of three different words in the same line which all essentially mean the same thing!

mwh
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Re: Two fun lines from Ovid!

Post by mwh »

You have to be careful with words like “essentially,” Dave. The three words don’t at all have the same meaning, and your playful translation obliterates meaningful differences. But it’s the modernistic verbal reprise of one and the same line (which I can imagine Vergil sniffing at) that embodies the temporarily static nature of the situation, the same on either side. The text itself comes to a virtual standstill, mirroring the described requies.

leisulin
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Re: Two fun lines from Ovid!

Post by leisulin »

Well, the two lines are less fun for me now!

Seriously, then, I need to examine how they differ in meaning, I guess. Here's what I was able to find (from Lewis and Short and Doderlein):

custodia and custos:
Original sense: cover/hide (original meaning of IE root)
custodia: place where prisoners are confined (Doderlein)
Primarily/originally (?) involves keeping watch on prisoners, but it appears to also extend to guarding and watching for protection in general, seeming to me to be very close in sense with servare.

vigil:
awake (as opposed to asleep) for a purpose

servare:
Seems to strictly involve keeping watch for the purpose of protecting/preserving what's being watched.

I understand what you mean about the lines demonstrating/mirroring the static nature of the respite from fighting. Thank you for that.

mwh
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Re: Two fun lines from Ovid!

Post by mwh »

I didn’t mean to spoil the fun! It’s true those words have much in common (a certain amount of semantic overlap), but I don’t think Ovid would treat them as actual synonyms. On the other hand, Phrygian is synonymous with Trojan, and Argolic with Greek, as of course you realize.

Happy New Year!
Michael

Hylander
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Re: Two fun lines from Ovid!

Post by Hylander »

if you enjoy Ovid's unbridled word play, as I do, you might want to read about this famous anecdote (if you haven't already), reported by Seneca the Elder to illustrate Ovid's over-the-top incapacity -- or refusal -- to restrain himself -- severely condemned by humorless critics like Seneca and Quintilian, but something I relish in Ovid:

https://sententiaeantiquae.com/2015/07/ ... ae-2-2-12/
Bill Walderman

leisulin
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Re: Two fun lines from Ovid!

Post by leisulin »

Thanks for sharing that! If I'd been one of Ovid's contemporaries, I'd have encouraged him to do it MORE, not less!

But I only saw these two lines in there:
semibovemque virum semivirumque bovem;

et gelidum Borean egelidumque Notum
Was the third one there? Did I miss it?

Hylander
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Re: Two fun lines from Ovid!

Post by Hylander »

I believe the third line wasn't reported, and it's too late to ask those involved. Apart from censorious, humorless critics, Ovid's contemporaries probably enjoyed his lack of restraint as much as you and I.
Bill Walderman

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