Small children like bedtime stories, but once they hit kindergarten they get tired of the same old fairy tales. So my son is perstering me for new ones. D’Aulaire’s beautiful Book of Greek Myths was a natural, but we’ve pretty much exhausted the suitable stories (my wife doesn’t want him to hear about Oedipus yet:-)
So now I’m ransacking Ovid…and the story of Adonis in Book X got me thinking about an image…which led to some Latin…and a verse I’ve been tinkering with in my spare moments:
Hic lucus tristes anemonas creber obumbrat
Quas dea continuis fletibus una beat.
Not sure…could this lead to anything?
…that I’ve been noodling over my lunch hours this week…
Stulus eram, qui deliciis per iurgia dixi,
vexas vexat Lesbia mente virum!”
“Si me rite ream monstrares,” illa regessit,
"Nonne dares cordi carmina blanda meo.”
Rite ream bugs me for some reason…
That Coldplay song Viva la Vida has been bouncing around my head since last summer. It’s not the greatest tune in the world–too bombastic for my taste–but the line “Roman Cavalry choirs are singing” caught my ear and prompted an immediate Latin translation –Chori Equitum Romanorum–which serendipitously matches the English rhythm.
Alas, most of the song’s lyrics are–to be charitable–melancholy imagist nonsense. Nevertheless, here’s a shot at the chorus:
En campanae Hierosolymorum,
Chori equitum Romanorum
Vitrum, ensis estote aegis,
Legati mihi in alienis.
Quamquam causam nullam causor
A Sancto Petro non vocabor
Verbum non honestum
Cum regnavi iam mundum.
Eh…not great, but these are the things I waste my time with.
…he should really take the oath in Latin, right?
Ego, Barack Obama, solemniter iuro magisterium Praefecti Civitatum Coniunctorum bona fide exsequi, atque pro mea parte Constitutionem Civitatum Coniunctorum custodire, servare, et defendere.
I’ve written a few posts in the past about Latin as an art form in modern times. It’s a topic I really should explore more often, but I always feel such discussions devolve into pointless navel gazing; a paragraph or two in and I start to ask “What is the point of defending this?” If it matters the work will speak for itself; if not then why add more fodder to the opus futile?
I recently posted part of an elegiac I’ve been doodling over. Though I never quite feel I’ve finished with a poem–it’s kind of like improvements to your house if you think about it–at some point you have to share it with someone. Anyway…
I’ve been working on an elegiac poem over lunch hours this past week which I hope to post soon. Part of it plays on an “autumnal season” theme, and since I made a point of analyzing another writer’s efforts on an elegiac translation, I thought it only fair to share a problem I had with my own.
Laus, decus, gloriaque maxima natatori Michaeli Phelps, propter victorias singulares mirabilissimasque ad XXIX ludos Olympicos.
For me, one of the great tortures of modern life is a long overnight plane flight. I simply cannot sleep next to a stranger in a noisy, cramped airline seat, and after you watch the one semi-decent movie out of ten on that dim, two-inch video screen, you have essentially eight hours of enforced boredom. So I’ll finish a crossword, donate far more attention to the meal than it deserves, and break out the Latin books.
My wife and I went to the Cubs game last night (they won!). I’ve mentioned before the club has an unofficial Latin motto, so for a bit of fun I had a t-shirt made with the word “FACIENDUMST” (=faciendum est) etched on the back. That’s my translation for “It’s Gonna Happen", a phrase that’s become a fan slogan of late at the Friendly Confines.
I was curious to see if anyone would get it, and to my surprise two different people at the ballpack recognized the word as Latin and asked me about it. I’ll admit it’s a toughie even if you know a litfair bit of the language: The impersonal gerundive is usually a second-year detail, and the aphraesis ending -umst = -um est is something even a fourth-year student might miss (I chose it because it sounded informal like the original’s “Gonna"). One woman whose father weas a Latin teacher wrote it down to share with him at a later date–"He’d get a kick out of it".
I doubt it will catch on (there’s been at least one incorrect translations of the phrase already this year). But it made my night to know it wasn’t a completely worthless effort. We’ll see how it goes the rest of the summer…
In the wake of the otherwise forgettable 2005 feature film Doom–based on the video game of the same name–film critic Roger Ebert made some comments regarding the artistic value of electronic gameplay. Although they may be subtle, ingenious, challenging, even visually stunning, video games couldn’t be art because the nature of the medium (player control of outcome, investment of enormous amounts of time, no emotional catharsis beyond solving a puzzle) seems to contradict common artistic goals.
…and another bedtime song translated into Latin. This time it’s the Jo Stafford classic You Belong To Me, which I know quite well from singing it as a lullaby every night (in the proper order, with the exact words–trust me, a two-year-old can be very attentive to detail).
Review the lyrics of Te Esse Mihi on my “Popular Songs” page. Props to friends at Akela’s Latin Forum for a few corrections–I can’t believe I thought the imperative of currere was curri, but as Horace says:
Vir bonus et prudens versus reprehendet inertis,
culpabit duros, incomptis allinet atrum. (Ars P. 445-6)
My family and I are visiting New York this summer, a trip which will allow us to take in a game at venerable Yankee Stadium before the wrecking ball strikes this winter.
I have visited the stadium previously, and felt a classic sporting venue deserved a classic ode. Click here to review my less-than-Horatian work (I’ve always liked Horace’s O Fons Bandusiae) and tell me where I went wrong.
Yes, one could say I’m targeting a very narrow audience with this poem (Latin scholars who are baseball fans), but I thought it was worth a shot. It’s actually inspired some thoughts about modern Latin poetry which I’ll get around to posting later in the week…
The baseball season starts tomorrow in Chicago, and next to classics the Chicago Cubs are a major distraction in my life. Like most fans, I’m not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse, a perspective that makes me appreciate Catullus’ Odi et amo even more…
Anyway, even casual baseball fans in the US remember the Cubs’ spectacular collapse to the Florida Marlins in the 2003 playoffs. In the aftermath, I took some solace in the classics and wrote a hencedasyllabicI thought it appropriate to feature it today, as the Cubs begin their road to the World Series (shh…not so loud!).
As I mentioned in a post some weeks ago, I spent some time translating De Anno et Eius Partibus, the 1582 document explaining changes to both the then-current Julian and liturgical calendars that resulted in the Gregorian Calendar.
Although the methods described in the document are well-known–and better explained at the Wikipedia page on the Comptus, I was surprised to find no English translation of this specific document on-line. After getting over some problems with email and finally just typing out most of it from my notes, I’ve posted my translation here.
Feedback is appreciated; at the very least it ought to inspire me to publish more of my own material (that was my original reason for starting this webpage)…
I’m often asked by folks–usually those who can’t afford a full-priced translation–to translate Latin documents. One I’m working on now is De Anno et Ejus Partibus, an edict from the Ecumenical Council of Trent describing reforms to the calendar; text is from the Roman Missal. Several Latin copies of this document can be found on-line, and certainly the methods described in this document for, say, calculating the date of Easter are well-known. But in my search I was surprised to find no one has posted (maybe even published) an English translation (though the last link above does have a side-by-side German translation).
Someone has asked me to translate it, and while the Latin is pretty straightforward (aside from some odd vocabulary), the text itself is rather dull and repetitive. Take this section describing the “Golden Number cycle” as an example:
Cyclus decennovennalis Aurei numeri est revolutio numeri 19. annorum ab 1. usque ad 19., qua revolutione peracta, iterum ad unitatem reditur. Verbi gratia: anno 1577. numerus cycli decennovennalis, qui dicitur Aureus, est 1., anno sequenti 1578. est 2., et ita deinceps in sequentibus annis, uno semper amplius, usque ad 19., qui Aureus numerus cadet in annum 1595., post quem iterum ad unitatem redeundum est, ita ut anno 1596. Aureus numerus sit rursus 1., et anno 1597. sit 2. etc
The entire document is over-amplified with examples like these; I think it’s enough to say the 19 Golden Numbers cycle once every 19 years. I don’t doubt it was important to spell things like this out in the 16th century, but it sure makes for boring reading now.
I’ll be working on these 20 pages over the coming week, and will likely post my translation to the web so anyone interested in this at a later date doesn’t have to plow thru the same agony. So I don’t know how much posting I’ll be doing in the meantime–duty calls.
When my daughter was an infant, I would sing her the Carpenter’s some Close to You (Youtube video…lyrics) as a lullaby. Every night. For close to two years. Needless to say, I had plenty of time to develop a Latin translation:
Cur statim prodiunt aves,
quandoque tu ades?
Sicut me, student esse
Cur stellae cadunt de caelis,
Sicut me, student esse
Die tui natalis
Somnium cernentes parere verum;
Tibi pulvis lunae in flavam,
in caesios lux jacta siderum.
Quamobrem quique urbis vir
Undique sequitir (causa homoeoteleuti pretiosi )
Sicut me, student esse
When I posted this on the Latin Forum last year, I got quite a bit of feedback on sicut me - “just like me". May posters felt this should be sicut ego, since the comparison is with the nominative subject “they” of student. I’ll agree that’s a better grammatical choice, but I defended the accusative me as a pronoun in opposition with an implied se in the phrase student (se) esse. Perhaps not best, but it preserves the rhythm, rhyme, and “grammaticity” (?) of the original.
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