Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spirited: Translating Horace I.5

On Saturday night and Sunday morning (yes, I can certainly be a procrastinator), I read Horace I.1, 5, and 9. I had never read any Horace before, which seems a bit strange considering I took the equivalent of three years of Latin [1]. Since Horace was one of the texts on the Berkeley example reading list [2], Properitius II and I decided to read Horace together. Of the poems we have read thus far, I.5 is my favorite and I will offer my translation [3]:
Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa
perfusus liquidis urget odoribus
grato, Pyrrha, sub antro?
cui flavam religas comam

simplex munditiis? heu quotiens fidem
mutatosque deos flebit et aspera
nigris aequora ventis
emirabitur insolens

qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea,
qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem
sperat, nescius aurae
fallacis. miseri, quibus
intemptata nites. me tabula sacer
votiva paries indicat uvida
suspendisse potenti
vestimenta maris deo.

Which slender youth, imbued with liquid scents
solicits you, Pyrrah, on a bed of roses [4]
under an pleasant grotto [5]
For whom do you arrange your golden hair,

simple in its elegance? Alas how often
he will lament faithfulness and changed gods and
the level seas, cruel because of black winds,
will be [a cause of] wonder [6]

[for him] who now delights in you, believing you golden,
who always hopes for vapidness, always for attractivenss,
ignorant of false air. Pitiable [are] men, for whom
you shimmer untried. The sacred wall
indicates by votive tablets that I have hung-up
my damp garments
to the powerful sea god [7].

I used the Shorey and Laing edition, an electronic version of which can be found on Perseus. It is a beautiful poem and has been translated by Milton among others.
Horace: Odes and Epodes (The Students' Series of Latin Classics)

  1. I look my first "year" of Latin in 8 weeks through a fabulous summer course.
  2. Although grad schools do put out a reading list of texts that are required reading for graduating their programs and passing written and oral exams, this is not the kind of reading list of which I speak. The other graduate school reading list is the list of materials that are required for acceptance to a grad school, which functions as to prevent graduate schools from needing to look over the syllabi of every class the applicants took in order to determine which and what portion of texts students read in the original languages.
  3. As it seems to be a popular sentiment on the acknowledgment pages and in the introductions to various classics texts (and is also true), I shall offer this disclaimer: although Propertius II aided me
  4. multa...in rosa literally on many roses i.e. on a bed of roses (from Shorey and Laing's notes).
  5. antro, translated here as grotto, is literally "cave." It is used her possibly as an allusion to the cave in the Aeneid where Dido and Aeneas's "marriage" takes place (credit to Propertius II for his insight).
  6. I definitely messed with the grammar here. Literally, "sea harsh with black wind will be wondered at," but aequora is the word for level, and I thought I should translate it with that meaning in mind. Also, I took the nigris ventis as an ablative of cause because I think it better expresses the image. Also, qui in the next line is nominative and added a dative connecting phrases, which I felt that it made the transition better in English.
  7. Mariners who were shipwrecked would hang their wet clothes (presumably on a piece of the ship) as an offering to Neptune, god of the sea, in order to pray for safe passage.

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