Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ennius Project

Since I'm getting into early Latin poetry, I have in mind to read a bunch of Ennius. I plan to post a few fragments, with a translation, and write up short comments on aspects that intrigue me. I follow the organization and numbering of the Skutsch commentary.

Ennius was born in Rudiae in 239 BC. He was Messapian by birth and perhaps partly Oscan; his sister's son's same is Pacuvius, a good Oscan name, and the name Ennius may itself be Oscan. Having served in the Roman Army, he earned his Roman citizenshp in 184 BC, and, perhaps while serving in the army, encountered Cato, who took him to Rome (Nepos, Cato 1.4). There, he made a living as a teacher (Suet. gramm. 1), and it was probably through Cato that he met M. Fulvius Nobilior, who became Ennius' patron. Ennius died around 169 BC.

The Annals consisted of eighteen books (Diom. 1.484) that are organized into groups of three: Books 1-3 treated the Regal Period, 4-6 covered the conquest of Italy and the Pyrric War, 7-9 went over the Punic Wars, 10-12 treated the affairs of Greece, 13-15 covered the Syrian War and Fulivius' triumph over the Aetolians, and 16-18 treated the recent wars.

Book 1
1. Musae, quae pedibus magnum pulsatis Olympum
'Muses, [you] who beat mighty Olympus with your feet'

This is generally assumed to be the first line of the poem. It comes to us from Varro LL VII, 19, who quoted it to show that 'caelum dicunt Graeci Olympum...'

Skutsch notes that there may be later echoes of this line; cf. Aen 10.216 curru...Phoebe medium pulsabat Olympum, Ovid Met. 6.487 equique pulsabant pedibus spatium decliuis Olympi. More interesting to me are the Homeric parallels. Dismissed out of hand is Il. 8.443 ...ὑπὸ ποσσὶ μέγας πελεμίζετ' Ὄλυμπος, '...under [Zeus'] feet, mighty Olympus quaked'. But, I think the interlocking word order A b C b that shows up in both the Ennius and the Homer is hard to ignore. Note also the alliterative parallel pedibus...pulsatis and ποσσὶ...πελεμίζετ'. But maybe I like this because I've read too much Calvert Watkins.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mine Blog, bereft of life it is not

Returned to the blogosphere I have; freed from the madness that was the fall semester.

Posts to follow shortly.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

School Starts Tomorrow

Well, my classes start tomorrow, and the year is shaping up to be a fascinating, but rather intense one. I'm taking two Greek classes; in one we're reading Lyric Poetry and the other is Book 24 of the Iliad. Also on the menu is a Latin class in which we're doing Seneca's play Thyestes as well as an independent study in Sanskrit. I'm also sitting in on another reading course and doing some Tacitus.

On top of all this I'm broke, so I'm looking around for a part time job but these aren't easy to come across in this booming economy of ours. Oh well. At any rate, expect some posts relating to my classes, especially the Greek and the Sanskrit.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Vladimir Horowitz is a badass.

Horowitz is probably my favorite classical pianist; his interpretations are at one time fiery and have sort of a nervous energy about them, and at another soft and whimsical. This, however, is not what makes him a badass.

In 1988 Horowitz was nominated for (and won) a Grammy award for his recording of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23. However, he skipped out on the Grammys in favor of receiving the National Bow-Tie Wearers Association Award. And for that he earned my undying respect.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mesomedes I

In the standard numbering of Mesomedes' poems, the first two are joined. I think it's quite a beautiful poem.

ἄιεδε Μοῦσα μοι φίλη,
μολπῆς δ' ἐμῆς κατάρχου,
αὒρη δὲ σῶν ἀπ' ἀλσέων,
ἐμάς φρένας δονείτω.

Καλλιόπεια σοφά,
Μουσῶν προκαθαγέτι τερπῶν,
καὶ σοφὲ μυστοδότα,
Λατοῦς γόνε, Δήλιε Παιάν,
εὐμενεῖς πάρεστέ μοι.

Sing to me, beloved muse,
start up my song,
Let the breeze from your sacred grove
stir my mind.

O wise Calliope,
leader of the delightful muses,
and you, wise giver of mysteries,
son of Leto, Apollo from Delos,
kind ones: stand near me.

Note the internal rhyme in lines 2, 3, 4, and 6 as well as the rather uncommon 3rd person imperative in line 4.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Why Thomas Jefferson Was so Smart

Thomas Jefferson's study regime when he was studying law was insane. He divided his day into five periods as follows:

From whenever he awoke to 8:00 AM-- Physical Sciences, Ethics, Religion, Natural Law

8:00 AM to 12:00--Law

12:00-1:00--Economics and Politics

1:00 to dusk--History (American, English, Greek [sources read in the original], Roman [again, sources read in the original])

dusk to midnight--Belles lettres, Oratory, Rhetoric, Criticism. Greek and Latin authors were (of course) read in the original.

It's no wonder he was probably the most learned and cultured President in American history.

Archilochus I

εἰμὶ δ' ἐγὼ θεράπων μὲν Ἐνυαλίοιο ἄνακτος
καὶ Μουσέων ἐρατὸν δῶρον ἐπιστάμενος

A servant am I, of Ares, the Lord
and skilled in the gift that the Muses award.