Friday, February 11, 2011

Spirtited: Horace 2.13

I decided provide my translation of another Horace poem. Horace's ode 13 in his second book is not an ode that is traditionally translated. I picked it because I saw that it mentioned Alceus and Sappho. It turned out to be quite funny and I really enjoyed it.

Ille et nefasto te posuit die
Quicumque primum, et sacrilega manu
Produxit, arbos, in nepotum
Perniciem opprobriumque pagi;

Illum et parentis crediderim sui
Fregisse cervicem et penetralia
Sparsisse nocturno cruore
Hospitis; ille venena Colcha

Et quidquid usquam concipitur nefas
Tractavit, agro qui statuit meo
Te, triste lignum, te, caducum
In domini caput inmerentis

Quid quisque vitet, numquam homini satis
Cautum est in horas: navita Bosporum
Poenus perhorrescit neque ultra
Caeca timet aliunde fata,

Miles sagittas et celerem fugam
Parthi, catenas Parthus et Italum
Robur; sed inprovisa leti
Vis rapuit rapietque gentis.

Quam paene furvae regna Proserpinae
Et iudicantem vidimus Aeacum
Sedesque discriptas piorum et
Aeoliis fidibus querentem

Sappho puellis de popularibus
Et te sonantem plenius aureo,
Alcaee, plectro dura navis,
Dura fugae mala, dura belli.

Utrumque sacro digna silentio
Mirantur umbrae dicere, sed magis
Pugnas et exactos tyrannos
Densum umeris bibit aure volgus.

Quid mirum, ubi illis carminibus stupens
Demittit atras belua centiceps
Auris et intorti capillis
Eumenidum recreantur angues?

Quin et Prometheus et Pelopis parens
Dulci laborem decipitur sono
Nec curat Orion leones
Aut timidos agitare lyncas.
He planted you on an inauspicious day, 
whichever [day you were] originally [planted],
and by a profane hand, Tree, lead forth into destruction
of future generations and the scandal of the neighborhood.

I would also believe he crushed 
the neck of his father and by night 
scattered the blood of guests
on the hearthstone; he has handled Colchian drugs

and [has engaged in] whatsoever evil
is conceived of in any place, he who planted
you on my farm, Wretched Stump, you,
destined to fall on the head of the innocent master.

Why does one shun everything, a man is never
aware enough from hour to hour: a Punic sailor
dreads the Bosphorus but does not fear
blind fate from other placed beyond.

A soldier dreads arrows and the quick flight
of the Parthians, and a Parthian fears
Italian captivity and military might.But the unforeseen 
power of death has seized and will seize [both] races.

How nearly did I see the realm 
of dark Proserpina and Aecian judgemnts 
and the seats assigned for the righteous 
and with her Aeolic lyre,

Sappho, grieving concerning the women
of her village and you, Aleceus, singing
loudly with a golden instrument of the hardships
of ships, the hardships of exile, the hardships of war.

And it is a wonder that both  speak
in sacred silence worthy of shades; but to a greater extent
the crowd, shoulder to shoulder, drinks in
with their ears the expulsions of tyrants and battles.

What wonder [is it] when the hundred-headed 
monster, beguiled by the songs, lets his black 
ears droop and the writhing snakes in the hair
of the Eumenides refresh themselves?

And also Prometheus and Pelops' father
are lured from their labor by the sweet sound
and Orion does not care to agitate
the lions and the wary lynxes.

I used some help from the commentary come's from Bennett's edition of Horace as well as from translating with Propertius II. I took a few liberties with the literalism in order to try to capture the spirit of the utterance in English-- or at least how I interpreted that spirit. I would be happy for people to comment on my translation and offer suggestions.

On the subject of trees, BBC News recently posted an article about how scientific data on tree growth is applied to history to help explain certain migratory patterns. I found this article through a post on The Campvs, which encourages scientists to apply the tree data to more specific periods such as changes in climate during the years of the Social War.

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