Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Fragment of Sulpicia I

As promised, I translated the first of Sulpicia I's cycle of six poems. It is my favorite and in my opinion the most interesting. I have played around with some of the typical interpretation, but I think that I am sticking fairly close to the Latin. However, if I did torture some part of the translation I am happy to be corrected or to debate the point.

In this poem, Sulpicia introduces Cerinthus, both as her lover and as the theme which will unite her poetry, although she does not name him.

Sulpicia Elegedia I (1)
[Tibulli Lib. III XIII=IV. VII]
Tandam venit amor, qualem texisse pudori, quam nudasse alicui sit mihi fama magis. exorata meis illum Cytherea Camenis attulit in nostrum deposuitque sinum.
exoluit promissa Venus: mea gaudia narret,
dicetur si quis non habuisse sua.

non ego signatis quicquam mandare tabellis
me legat ut (2) nemo quam meus ante, velim,
sed becasse iuuat, uultus componere famae taedet: cum digno digna fuisse ferar.

At last love has come, [love] of the sort which
rumor that it might have been covered up by someone
would have been more shameful to me than if it were exposed.
Having been persuaded by my Muses (3),
the Cytherian (4) brought him and deposited [him] in my lap.
He released Venus from her promise: she may recount my joy
if anyone might be said to to have had her [joy].
I would not wish to commit anything in a sealed tablet
in order that no one might read me before my [love],
but it delights me to offend (5); it is tiresome to compose my visage for the sake of rumor
I should be deemed worthy to have been with a worthy man (6).

Dinner with my family went a little longer than I expected tonight, so I do not have the time to do the extensive commentary that I originally intended. Maybe that will be my next. Hopefully the endnotes will help explain. I wanted to do a translation that was literal, but still poetic (which is why I added words in brackets). Enjoy!

  1. From Minor Authors of the Corpus Tibullianum. e.d. John Yardly. Bryn Mawr, PA: Bryn Mawr Commentaries, 1992. I also made reference to Anne Mahoney's notes on the Perseus entry of Sulpicia as well as to the electronic Allen and Greenough. As a random sidenote, I tried to use my copy of Allen and Greenough, but although I have the wonderful 1903 edition that I bought for $5 at a booksale, it is so imbued with dust that I had an allergy attack trying to use it and switched to the electronic version.
  2. I used Yardly version of the text, which for reference is different than the text on the Persus entry of Sulpicia, in that the line 8 reads: "ne legat id nemo quam meum ante, velim." For the textual scholars out there, I am not well schooled in picking one text over another, so I just picked the one I liked better.
  3. From Anne Mahoney's notes (and my Latin Love Elegy Class), I gather that these are Italian goddesses or demi-goddesses that were, like the muses, associated with music, and were later blended into the Greek tradition of the Muses.
  4. From Anne Mahoney's notes, Venus was referred to as Cytherea because she was born on the island of Cythera in some mythic traditions. In others, she was born out of the foam of the castrated parts of Ouranous falling into the sea.
  5. This word means "offend" (as in to offend a person) but also means to "sin." I thought "sin" sounded too religious, when it was really more of the idea of a severe social transgression. The term may be interpreted both as a sexual innuendo and as the return to the idea of the liberation of an incendiary rumor.
  6. This last line is kind of a pun. It is difficult to render in English and I may not have translated it properly. "Dignus" which I translated as worthy to try and make the pun work is the term that would be used in Rome to describe a proper Roman gentleman, but also would only be applied to a Roman nobleman. The following ideas appear in this line: A) Sulpicia is a noblewoman, B) Cerinthus is a nobleman, C) Sulpicia is a worthy woman because she made a worthy choice of lovers, however social convention does not see her this way, and prevents her from being a "proper lady" because she kissed and told.

Aesthetic Changes

Sorry for the extreme aesthetic shifts taking place over the past few days. I realized that if I am going to work on designing websites, even a small one like Don't Tell Betsy!, I should show some skill level designing my own page. Thus far, I still dislike the vibe coming off of Fragments of Sulpicia (III). I would love to have a website that demonstrates the aesthetic of her poetry: accessible vocabulary strung together in nuanced syntax with hidden jokes an innuendo. I'm still working on achieving that feel.

Part of my new goal in my year off is to use my time more efficiently and create a stable schedule (despite my hours at work being anything but normal). One of the things I'm planning on doing is at least 6 hours a week of each Latin and Greek. Although I had intended to first translate Seneca, I need motivation so my plan is to write my own translations of Sulpicia (I) and post them for all to enjoy (possibly with commentary). I will also probably post them on my classics blog, Platonic Psychology, which I have also recently remodeled.

I am still working; coding languages are much less my strong point than ancient languages. I hope that at some point tomorrow I will be able to sit down with a piece of toast with almond butter and a cup of coffee (since there are no great coffee shops around here, this will have to suffice) and get to work on my translation. There is added pressure because the lovely Cerinthus found my blog and I have been bugging him to update his (so I look like/am a bit of a hypocrite. On the other hand, this only makes me more like the lovely Sulpicia in Poem 6).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Job(s)

I got a job teaching SAT prep. Since I am working for a large company and must present a decent front (and would rather my students did not happen upon my blog) I will not provide details. It is nice to both have something to structure my time and a way to make money.

I also gained a webdesign client. As is obvious from this blog, Sulpicia daughter of Servius is not a particularly adept fashioner of the interwebs. However, I have enough skills that people of my parents generation may call upon me from time to time for assistance. Thus far, I have put together a band website for Don't Tell Betsy!, which is an LA band.

Since it's summer and I actually have time, in between studying for my GREs and applying to grad school, I am going try try to maintain my blogs a little bit better.