Posted by Dennis » Add Comment »
I was just entering my copy of Denys Page’s Aeschylus OCT into Librarything when I noticed that one library gave the title as ‘Aeschyli Septem Quae Supersunt Tragoedias [SIC].’
The jacket, the title page, and the OUP website use the accusative ‘Tragoedias,’ but why? The spine reads simply Aeschyli Tragoediae.
In full ‘Aeschyli Septem Quae Supersunt Tragoedias edidit Denys Page’ sounds like an excited statement:
‘Denys Page has published the seven surviving tragedies of Aeschylus!’ Oh my god! I can’t even believe it!
I’m inclined to think this is actually what was intended (though I exaggerate). One could make the argument that those editions which display ‘Fabulae’ or ‘Tragoediae’ on their title pages are mistaken. What, then, would ‘edidit,’ ‘recensuit,’ or ‘adnotatione instruxit’ govern? One would have to read something like ‘… Fabulae (sc. quas) edidit ….’
Titles that use ambiguous words are plentiful, ‘Opera’ being the most obvious. But what about ‘Carmina,’ ‘Historica,’ ‘Lyrica,’ or even ‘Delectus’?
Or maybe OUP just made a mistake.
Posted by Eric » 1 Comment »
In the opening poems of Books 1 and 3 of Horace’s Odes, we find a use of the adjective sublimis near the end. The two usages highlight two different types of achievement with a lofty result.
In 1.1, to Maecenas, Horace constructs a long priamel, and caps it by noting that poetry distinguishes him from the masses:
me doctarum hederae praemia frontium
dis miscent superis, me gelidum nemus
Nympharumque leves cum Satyris chori
secernunt populo, si neque tibias
Euterpe cohibet nec Polyhymnia
Lesboum refugit tendere barbiton. (29-34)
He then tells Maecenas that, if he will include Horace in the canon of lyric poets, he will strike the stars with his exalted head:
quodsi me lyricis vatibus inseres,
sublimi feriam sidera vertice. (35-6)
In 3.1, on the other hand, Horace contrasts the peace experienced by the simple rustic with the problems attendant upon the successful and materially rich. Since ‘fear and threats’ (37) follow where the master goes, why should Horace trouble himself to build a lofty, cutting-edge new house and give up his modest Sabine farm?
…cur invidendis postibus et novo
sublime ritu moliar atrium?
Cur valle permutem Sabina
divitias operosiores? (45-8)
Horace brings this imagery of rising aloft via poetry vs. via material construction full circle in the last ode of Book 3, 3.30, where he claims (in the first ode in this meter, which Garrison labels the ‘first Asclepiadean’, since 1.1) to have built a ‘monument’ out of his poetry that excels all material construction and even endures through the ravages of storm and time:
exegi monumentum aere perennius
regalique situ pyramidum altius,
quod non imber edax, non Aquilo impotens
possit diruere aut innumerabilis
annorum series et fuga tempora. (1-5)
Posted by Eric » Add Comment »
Words related to the verb ulciscor (pf. ppl. ultus) appear three times in Odes 1.2, the poem in which Horace makes the interesting transition, during the ‘kletic’ part of the ode, from Mercury to Augustus in what West calls (I believe, but I’ll have to doublecheck) a syntactical sleight-of-hand.
The first instance comes in l. 17, referring to the personified Tiber: …Iliae dum se nimium querenti/ iactat ultorem (‘…while he vaunts himself as the avenger for Ilia, lamenting vehemently’). On what account would Ilia seek vengeance? It seems that there could be a few things in view: 1) her execution for becoming pregnant while a Vestal Virgin; 2) the murder of one of her sons, Remus, by her other son (this seems to me the least likely to be in view here, though Tiber does attempt to flood the monumenta regis (15). The Regia, of course, is properly connected with Numa, but one cannot forget Romulus’ position as the first rex of Rome); 3) the assassination of Julias Caesar, her descendant.
The second use connect with 3) mentioned above. In invoking Mercury imitating a youth (=Augustus), Horace describes him this way: …patiens vocari/ Caesaris ultor (‘…allowing [yourself] to be called the avenger of Caesar’) (43-4). We have moved from the divine (but personified) Tiber as avenger to the blurred human/divine of Mercury/Augustus as avenger.
The final use comes in the second-to-last line of the poem and is addressed to Caesar: …neu sinas Medos equitare inultos (‘…nor may you allow the Medes to ride unavenged’) (51). Now in the purely human realm, we learn that the Parthians are unavenged. The focus has changed from vengeance for civil strife to a wish for vengeance turned to the world outside of Rome, reprising a point Horace had made in lines 21-2. This makes perfect sense in the larger context of the poem, as it is a plea to end civil wars and to turn that energy elsewhere.