(Book Club) Horace, Book 1, Ode 8

S E Rowe

New Member
Salve!
It's been a while since I've spent time on this forum and do so as a way now of attempting to refresh my latin skills for some translation I may wish to do in the future.

I've translated a few of Horace's odes and am currently working on Book 1, Ode 8. The general idea of the poem is straight forward and I have no issues with that, just with a couple sections that, for one reason or another, cause me a little trouble in the translating. This is the poem and these are the parts I am looking into:


Lydia, dic, per omnis
te deos oro, Sybarin cur properes amando
perdere, cur apricum
oderit campum, patiens pulveris atque solis,
cur neque militaris
inter aequalis equitet, Gallica nec lupatis
temperet ora frenis?
Cur timet flavum Tiberim tangere? Cur olivum
sanguine viperino
cautius vitat
neque iam livida gestat armis
bracchia, saepe disco,
saepe trans finem iaculo nobilis expedito?
Quid latet, ut marinae
filium dicunt Thetidis sub lacrimosa Troiae
funera, ne virilis
cultus in caedem et Lycias proriperet catervas?



This is what I have for the first bolded section:

Cur olivum sanguine viperino cautius vitat
Why, cautious of the viper's blood, does he avoid wrestling
-I've seen conflicting translations of this line where olivum is read as "wrestling" or "oil". I went with wrestling as it would be one of the other manly pursuits that Sybaris is kept from.

And here the second:
Quid latet, ut marinae filium dicunt Thetidis sub lacrimosa Troiae funera, ne virilis cultus in caedem et Lycias proriperet catervas?
Is he hidden, sulking as they say sea-born Thetis' son was until his death at Troy, lest the manly training thrust him to his own death in the Lycian ranks?
-The part here that gives me the most uncertainty is "ut...funera" and the construction of "ne...catervas".

I've attempted to be as literal as possible at this stage since I want a full understanding of the text and the word choice used by the poet. My own verse translation will no doubt take a slightly different form.

I find that some translators have taken incredible liberties when bringing works like this over into English, leaving out whole clauses, sometimes whole sentences. I want to remain as close as possible.

Any help you might be able to give me with this would be greatly appreciated.

Steve
 

Imber Ranae

Ranunculus Iracundus
Re: Horace, Book 1, Ode 8

S E Rowe dixit:
Cur olivum sanguine viperino cautius vitat
Why, cautious of the viper's blood, does he avoid wrestling
-I've seen conflicting translations of this line where olivum is read as "wrestling" or "oil". I went with wrestling as it would be one of the other manly pursuits that Sybaris is kept from.
It means "olive oil", literally, but here it is metonymy for wrestling. Ancient wrestlers of the Palaestra used to anoint their bodies with oils before competing. Olivum is just an older (mostly poetic) form of the word oleum. To make the connection more obvious in English I would translate it "wrestler's oil".

Couple things you missed in the grammar: cautius is the comparative form of the adverb caute, and comparatives are often accompanied by an ablative of comparison. That's how sanguine viperino is functioning here. I'd translate it something like: "Why does he avoid the wrestler's oil more cautiously than he does a viper's blood?"

And here the second:
Quid latet, ut marinae filium dicunt Thetidis sub lacrimosa Troiae funera, ne virilis cultus in caedem et Lycias proriperet catervas?
Is he hidden, sulking as they say sea-born Thetis' son was until his death at Troy, lest the manly training thrust him to his own death in the Lycian ranks?
-The part here that gives me the most uncertainty is "ut...funera" and the construction of "ne...catervas".
Quid is the equivalent of cur here: "Why does he hide himself/keep hidden..." I don't think lacrimosa Troiae funera is referring to Achilles' death so much as to the destruction of Troy, with Troiae being genitive rather than locative (it does seem a bit ambiguous though, so I'm not certain that your interpretation is necessarily wrong). Sub, in its temporal sense, means "just before" and not "until". The infinitive form latuisse is implied as the infinitive of indirect discourse introduced by dicunt: "...as they say the son of sea-born Thetis did [i.e. lay hid] just before the mournful death-day of Troy..."

In the next clause, virilis cultus means "men's clothing/style of dress" rather than "training". This is a reference to a non-Homeric legend that Thetis tried to keep Achilles safe from the Trojan war by hiding him amongst the women in the court of Lycomedes, because of a prophecy that he would die in the war. The ne simply introduces the clause as one of purpose: "...lest manly garb should snatch him forth into slaughter and [into the midst of] Lycian troops."

Any help you might be able to give me with this would be greatly appreciated.

Steve
No problem. Let me know if you still don't understand something about this passage.
 

S E Rowe

New Member
Re: Horace, Book 1, Ode 8

Thanks Imber Ranae, your comments are a big help to me. I've got nearly the entire poem taken care of and wanted to check on a couple points. I may post my translation here in order to make sure it all fits together properly.

I took latin in university during my Medieval Studies degree, but have since become a geography teacher in high school. For this reason much of my latin isn't what it used to be and for hobby purposes and my own writing (I'm a poet with a book coming out this fall) I thought it would be great to get back into it. Maybe I'll even get a translation or two published somewhere.

Once again, thank you for your time and help with this. Greatly appreciated.

Steve
 

S E Rowe

New Member
Re: Horace, Book 1, Ode 8

Ok, so i'm back with my current translation. I'm open to any and all thoughts on this.

The Latin:

Lydia, dic, per omnis
te deos oro, Sybarin cur properes amando
perdere, cur apricum
oderit campum, patiens pulveris atque solis,
cur neque militaris
inter aequalis equitet, Gallica nec lupatis
temperet ora frenis?
Cur timet flavum Tiberim tangere? Cur olivum
sanguine viperino
cautius vitat neque iam livida gestat armis
bracchia, saepe disco,
saepe trans finem iaculo nobilis expedito?
Quid latet, ut marinae
filium dicunt Thetidis sub lacrimosa Troiae
funera, ne virilis
cultus in caedem et Lycias proriperet catervas?

Trans:

By all above Lydia, I beg you why rush
to ruin Sybaris with motherly love?

Why does he hate the sun-washed field,
merely endure the heat and dust; not ride

among his military brothers, nor even
rein his gallic horse with a sharp bit?

Why does he shy away from wading
in the river Tiber; more cautiously avoid

wrestler's oil than viper's blood and now
not raise his weapon-bruised arms

often celebrated after throwing the discus,
the javelin across the mark?

Why is he hidden, sulking as they say
sea-born Thetis' son was before the end of Troy

so manly clothing wouldn't thrust him
to his own death in the Lycian ranks?
 

Matthaeus

Vemortuicida strenuus
Re: Horace, Book 1, Ode 8

In order to be grammatically correct, shouldn't that be per omnes te deos oro? I noticed Cicero makes the same 'blunder' when he really means the plural form of omnis. Comments welcome.
 

Imber Ranae

Ranunculus Iracundus
Re: Horace, Book 1, Ode 8

mattheus dixit:
In order to be grammatically correct, shouldn't that be per omnes te deos oro? I noticed Cicero makes the same 'blunder' when he really means the plural form of omnis. Comments welcome.
No. Native speakers do not make blunders of such an elementary nature, and especially not Cicero. The i is long. You'll remember that 3rd declension adjectives, being i-stems (with a very few exceptions), may always have -īs alternatively to -ēs as the accusative plural.
 

Matthaeus

Vemortuicida strenuus
Re: Horace, Book 1, Ode 8

Now that is something I was completely unaware of, so I am grateful to you, Imber Ranæ. Thanks for clearing that up.
 

Imber Ranae

Ranunculus Iracundus
Re: Horace, Book 1, Ode 8

S E Rowe dixit:
Ok, so i'm back with my current translation. I'm open to any and all thoughts on this.

The Latin:

Lydia, dic, per omnis
te deos oro, Sybarin cur properes amando
perdere, cur apricum
oderit campum, patiens pulveris atque solis,
cur neque militaris
inter aequalis equitet, Gallica nec lupatis
temperet ora frenis?
Cur timet flavum Tiberim tangere? Cur olivum
sanguine viperino
cautius vitat neque iam livida gestat armis
bracchia, saepe disco,
saepe trans finem iaculo nobilis expedito?
Quid latet, ut marinae
filium dicunt Thetidis sub lacrimosa Troiae
funera, ne virilis
cultus in caedem et Lycias proriperet catervas?

Trans:

By all above Lydia, I beg you why rush
to ruin Sybaris with motherly love?

Why does he hate the sun-washed field,
merely endure the heat and dust; not ride

among his military brothers, nor even
rein his gallic horse with a sharp bit?

Why does he shy away from wading
in the river Tiber; more cautiously avoid

wrestler's oil than viper's blood and now
not raise his weapon-bruised arms

often celebrated after throwing the discus,
the javelin across the mark?

Why is he hidden, sulking as they say
sea-born Thetis' son was before the end of Troy

so manly clothing wouldn't thrust him
to his own death in the Lycian ranks?
Overall I think your translation is pretty good, S E Rowe, and I realize you're not aiming for a completely literal translation (you left out the description of the Tiber as "yellow", for example), so I'll only point out the two places where I think your interpretation is a little off the mark, i.e. unfaithful to Horace's intent. The first is where you added the description "motherly" to "love". Lydia was not Sybaris' mother. The poem is about Sybaris' romantic interest in this woman, or more precisely how it is spoiling (to Horace's mind) his athletic career and achievements. He's not a momma's boy.

The second is a bit more subtle, and has to do with your understanding of the participle patiens. You seem to be taking it quite literally as a present condition which Sybaris is experiencing, which would in fact be the typical meaning of a present participle. There is a grammatical clue, however, that it is functioning adjectivally rather than verbally, by which I mean that it is more of a general descriptor than a verbal idea limited to the present time. If patiens were functioning as a typical participle, with a verbal component to it, it should normally take direct objects in the accusative case, just as the finite forms of the verb would. That is, it should be ...cur apricum oderit campum, patiens pulverem atque solem? "...why does he hate the sun-washed plain, [while merely] enduring the dust and sun?" Instead, patiens is modified by two objective genitives, pulveris and solis, as a typical adjective might. This suggests that patiens probably means something closer to "endurant", which is a general quality rather than a time-specific verbal condition. As such it makes the most sense to understand it as concessive: "...why does he, [although] endurant of dust and sun, hate the sun-washed plain?"

To rephrase it in better English, you might say "...why does he hate the sun-washed plain, even though he can endure the dust and sun?"

(I like your "sun-washed" for apricum, btw.)
 

S E Rowe

New Member
Re: Horace, Book 1, Ode 8

Thanks guys, you've been a big help here.

I wasn't totally sure of patiens and wanted to check on that too. I understood the main idea, but the detail of how it's expressed is important. Thanks again for that.

Stephanus
 
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