Monday, December 20, 2010

Appetitive/Spirited: A Translation of Horace 1.38 for the Holidays

Horace 1.38

Persicos odi, puer, adparatus,
     displicent nexae philyra coronae,
mitte sectari, rosa quo locorum
     sera moretur.

simplici myrto nihil adlabores
     sedulus curo: neque te ministrum
dedecet myrtus neque me sub arta
     vite bibentem.

I hated Persian styling, boy, woven crowns 
     from the linden tree displease [me],
do not seek out haunts 
    where the late rose lingers.

I take pains that you, diligent, endeavor nothing 
     [other than] plain myrtle: neither is myrtle unsuitable 
for you as you serve nor for me 
     drinking under the thick-leaved vine.
Advice on the translation was taken from the notes in the Bennett edition I borrowed from the library as well as from Propertius II. However, it has been over a month since I read the poem and the notes that I took for myself were not nearly as detailed as they should have been. However, this is a rendering of what I remember.

The reason I chose this poem for the holidays is twofold. First, at the Aimee Mann Christmas Show, Paul Tompkins did comic bit on the two versions of Christmas. He claimed that there was one for religious people and one for everyone else, which was a drinking holiday. I thought this was pretty funny, especially because of the tradition of my family's Christmas wine selection (although no one drinks very much), and because it reminded me of Horace, who mentions wine in almost every poem I have read thus far. Second, although I had to return the my Bennett to the library, I remember something about the "late blooming rose" in line 4 being the Egyptian rose, which was known to bloom until December, which further reminded me of the holidays.

So, crown yourself in myrtle, pour a glass of wine, and read Horace by the fireside.