Prostitutes and Pelts

Varro, de Lingua Latina 7.84:

“In Terence we read:

He whores (scortatur), he drinks, he smells like perfume at my cost!

The verb to whore (scortari) means quite often to take a prostitute, which is so called from a pelt. For the ancients not only called a pelt a scortum, but even today we call those things which are made of hide and pelt scortea. In some sacred rites and sacrificial places we have it written:

Let not a prostitute (scortum) be admitted

meaning by this that nothing dead should be present. In Atellan farces one may observe that they brought home a little skin (pellicula) instead of a scortum.

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Apud Terentium:

Scortatur, potat, olet unguenta de meo.

Scortari est saepius meretriculam ducere, quae dicta a pelle: id enim non solum antiqui dicebant scortum, sed etiam nunc dicimus scortea ea quae e corio ac pellibus sunt facta; in aliquot sacris ac sacellis scriptum habemus:

Ne quod scorteum adhibeatur,

ideo ne morticinum quid adsit. In Atellanis licet animadvertere rusticos dicere se adduxisse pro scorto pelliculam.

Grammar, the Real Queen of Sciences

John Williams, Stoner (Chp.9)

“Stoner waited a few moments more, shuffling his papers; then he cleared his throat and began the class.

‘During our first meeting we discussed the scope of this seminar, and we decided that we should limit our study of the medieval Latin tradition to the first three of the seven liberal arts–that is, to grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic.’ He paused and watched the faces–tentative, curious, and masklike– focus upon him and what he said.

‘Such a limiting may seem foolishly rigorous to some of you; but I have no doubt that we shall find enough to keep us occupied even if we trace only superficially the course of the trivium upward into the sixteenth century. It is important that we realize that these arts of rhetoric, grammar, and dialectic meant something to a late medieval and early Renaissance man that we, today, can only dimly sense without an exercise of the historical imagination. To such a scholar, the art of grammar, for example, was not merely a mechanical disposition of the parts of speech. From late Hellenistic times through the Middle Ages, the study and practice of grammar included not only the ‘skill of letters’ mentioned by Plato and Aristotle; it included also, and this became very important, a study of poetry in its technical felicities, an exegesis of poetry both in form and substance, and nicety of style, insofar as that can be distinguished from rhetoric.’

He felt himself warming to his subject, and he was aware that several of the students had leaned forward and had stopped taking notes. He continued: ‘Moreover, if we in the twentieth century are asked which of these three arts is the most important, we might choose dialectic, or rhetoric–but we would be most unlikely to choose grammar. Yet the Roman and medieval scholar–and poet–would almost certainly consider grammar the most significant.'”

Grammar and Priscian, Munich Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Clm. 2599, f.102

Damn It Feels Good to be an Encyclopedist

Pliny, Natural History (Preface)

“Moreover, the path is not a road trod down by authors nor one on which the mind would seek to wander. There is no one among us who has attempted the same ting, no one among the Greeks who managed all of these studies alone. Most of us seek the pleasant parts of our studies: but those things, handled by others, are said to be of immense subtlety, and are pressed down by the dark shadows of the material. Before all, one must deal with what the Greeks call encyclopedic education, and yet they are either unknown or made uncertain by the great minds; other subjects have been published by so many that they have been led to the point of scorn.

It is a hard thing to give novelty to ancient things, authority to new things, splendor to the obsolete, light to the obscure, charm to the stale, trust to the doubtful, and indeed nature to all things and all things to their nature. And it is damn fine and magnificent to have wished to do so, even if one does not succeed.”

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Praeterea iter est non trita auctoribus via nec qua peregrinari animus expetat. nemo apud nos qui idem temptaverit, nemo apud Graecos, qui unus omnia ea tractaverit. magna pars studiorum amoenitates quaerimus; quae vero tractata ab aliis dicuntur inmensae subtilitatis, obscuris rerum tenebris premuntur. ante omnia attingenda quae Graeci τῆς ἐγκυκλίου παιδείας vocant, et tamen ignota aut incerta ingeniis facta; alia vero ita multis prodita, ut in fastidium sint adducta.

Res ardua vetustis novitatem dare, novis auctoritatem, obsoletis nitorem, obscuris lucem, fastiditis gratiam, dubiis fidem, omnibus vero naturam et naturae suae omnia. itaque etiam non assecutis voluisse abunde pulchrum atque magnificum est.

Life, Death, and Latin

John Williams, Stoner (Chp. 3):

“His dissertation topic had been ‘The Influence of the Classical Tradition upon the Medieval Lyric.’ He spent much of the summer rereading the classical and medieval Latin poets, and especially their poems upon death. He wondered again at the easy, graceful manner in which the Roman lyricists accepted the fact of death, as if the nothingness they faced were a tribute to the richness of the years they had enjoyed; and he marveled at the bitterness, the terror, the barely concealed hatred he found in some of the later Christian poets of the Latin tradition when the looked to the death which promised, however vaguely, a rich and ecstatic eternity of life, as if that death and promise were a mockery that soured the days of their living. When he thought of Masters, he thought of him as a Catullus or a more gentle and lyrical Juvenal, an exile in his own country, and thought of his death as another exile, more strange and lasting than he had known before.”

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St. Patrick Says: Pray Pray Pray, Food’s on the Way!

St. Patrick, Confession 19:

“After three days we reached land and made a journey through a desert; food was lacking, and famine prevailed over them, and one day the captain began to speak to me,

‘What’s all this, Christian? You say that your God is great and all powerful; why can you not say a prayer for us? We’re being sorely tried by famine. It’s hardly likely that we will see any other person out here.’

I then confidently replied to them,

‘Turn yourselves, in your faith and from all your heart to the Lord my God, because nothing is impossible for him, so that he send food to you today, enough for your journey, because he has an abundance everywhere.’

And, with the help of God, so it happened. There, a flock of pigs appeared in the road before our eyes, and the men killed many of them, and remained there for two nights. They were much revived, and their dogs too were restored, because many of them had fallen off and been left half-dead on the road. After this, they gave the greatest thanks to God, and I was honored in their eyes, and from this day they possessed food abundantly. They even found honey of the forest and offered part to me, and one of them said, ‘It is a little offering.’ Thanks to God, I ate none of it.”

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et post triduum terram cepimus et uiginti octo dies per desertum iter fecimus et cibus defuit illis et fames inualuit super eos, et alio die coepit gubernator mihi dicere: ‘Quid est, Christiane? tu dicis deus tuus magnus et omnipotens est; quare ergo non potes pro nobis orare? quia nos a fame periclitamur; difficile est enim ut aliquem hominem umquam uideamus’. Ego enim confidenter dixi illis: ‘Conuertimini ex fide ex toto corde ad Dominum Deum meum, quia nihil est impossibile illi, ut hodie cibum mittat uobis in uiam uestram usque dum satiamini, quia ubique habundat illi’, et adiuuante Deo ita factum est: ecce grex porcorum in uia ante oculos nostros apparuit, et multos ex illis interfecerunt et ibi duas noctes manserunt et bene refecti et canes eorum repleti sunt, quia multi ex illis defecerunt et secus uiam semiuiui relicti sunt, et post hoc summas gratias egerunt Deo et ego honorificatus sum sub oculis eorum, et ex hac die cibum habundanter habuerunt; etiam mel siluestre inuenerunt et mihi partem obtulerunt et unus ex illis dixit: ‘Immolaticium est’; Deo gratias, exinde nihil gustaui.

Women’s History Month, Week 2

For the first week of posts, go here.

 

Women Authors

Telesilla, Argive Warrior-Poet

Theano, Philosopher

 

Documentary Evidence

Hades’ Newest Bride: An Epitaph

“If it is a girl…” A Letter on (female) child exposure

Inscriptions for Women Doctors from the Roman Empire

Septicia’s Marriage: Legal Testament and Marriage from ValMax

Roman Epitaphs for Wives

 

Philosophy

Plato on Gendered Differences and Love

 

Cultural Material

Boccacio on Flora, a “dishonorable” woman, Part 1 and Part 2

Plutarch on Women Causing Earthquakes

Sex, Slaves, and Sin in the Odyssey

What Did Helen Look Like?

Gellius on the Original Virgin Suicides

ValMax on Indian and Phoenician Women

First Wives: Paris’ Oenone and her Son

Helen’s Serving Girl and the First Sex Manual

Woman with mirror, Louvre CA587
Woman with mirror, Louvre CA587

Roman Epitaphs to and for Wives

A repost of some translations by Brandon Conley.

  1. AE 1983 0040

D(is) M(anibus). Memoriae Publicies Septimines L(ucius) Sammonius Adiutor coniug(i) pientissim(a)e et animules amantissimes

“To the spirits of the dead. Lucius Sammonius Adiutor (made this) for the memory of Publicia Septimina, his most faithful wife and most loving soul.”

Romancouple

  1. AE 1982 0106

D(is) M(anibus) Iucundis[sim]a Priscia[no con]iugi am[antiss]imo b(ene) [m(erenti) fecit]

“To the spirits of the dead. Iucundissima made this for her well-deserving, most loving husband, Priscianus.”

 

  1. CIL 6.18817

Animae sanctae colendae d(is) m(anibus) s(acrum). Furia Spes L(ucio) Sempronio Firmo coniugi carissimo mihi. Ut cognovi puer puella obligati amori pariter. Cum quo vixi tempori minimo et quo tempore vivere debuimus a manu mala diseparati sumus. Ita peto vos manes sanctissimae commendat[um] habeatis meum ca[ru]m et vellitis huic indulgentissimi esse horis nocturnis ut eum videam et etiam me fato suadere vellit ut et ego possim dulcius et celerius aput eum pervenire.

“To a sacred and worshipped spirit: a sacred thing to the spirits of the dead. Furia Spes (made this) for her dearest husband, Lucius Sempronius Firmus. When we met as boy and girl, we were joined in love equally. I lived with him for a short while, and in a time when we should have lived together, we were separated by an evil hand.

So I ask you, most sacred spirits, to protect my dear husband entrusted to you, and that you be willing to be most accommodating to him in the nightly hours, so I may have a vision of him, and so he might wish that I persuade fate to allow me to come to him more sweetly and quickly.”

adiutor

  1. CIL 3.10501

Clausa iacet lapidi coniunx pia cara Sabina. Artibus edocta superabat sola maritum vox ei grata fuit pulsabat pollice c(h)ordas. Set (sed) cito rapta silpi (silet)…

“My beautiful, faithful wife, Sabina, lies enclosed in stone. Skilled in the arts, she alone surpassed her husband. Her voice was pleasing (as) she plucked the strings with her thumb. But suddenly taken, now she is silent.”

 

  1. CIL 3.00333

Dis Manibus Flaviae Sophene [Ge]nealis Caesaris Aug(usti) [se]rvos verna dispens(ator) [ad] frumentum carae coniugi et amanti bene merenti fecit [vix(it)] an(nis) XXXII m(ensibus) VII

//

[Φλ]αβία Σόφη γυνὴ Γενεάλ/[ιος] Καίσαρος δούλου οἰκο/νόμου ἐπὶ τοῦ σείτου / [ζή]σασα κοσμίως ἔτη [λβ] / [μῆ]νας ζ χαῖρε

“To the spirits of the dead. For Flavia Sophe. Genialis, home-born slave of Caesar Augustus, keeper of the grain supply, made this for his loving, dear, well-deserving wife. She lived 32 years, 7 months.”

 

  1. AE 1982 0988.

Iulia Cecilia vicxit annis XLV cui Terensus marit(us) fek(it) dom(um) et(e)r(nalem) f(eci)t

“Julia Caecilia lived 45 years, for whom her husband Terensus made this. He made her an eternal home.”

 

  1. CIL 13.01983 (EDCS-10500938)

D(is) M(anibus) et memoriae aetern(ae) Blandiniae Martiolae puellae innocentissimae quae vixit ann(os) XVIII m(enses) VIIII d(ies) V. Pompeius Catussa cives Sequanus tector coniugi incomparabili et sibi benignissim(a)e quae mecum vixit an(nos) V m(enses) VI d(ies) XVIII sine ul(l)a criminis sorde. Viv(u)s sibi et coniugi ponendum curavit et sub ascia dedicavit. Tu qui legis vade in Apol(l)inis lavari quod ego cum coniuge feci. Vellem si ad(h)uc possem

“To the spirits of the dead and the eternal memory of Blandinia Martiola, a most innocent girl who lived 18 years, 9 months, 5 days. Pompeius Catussa, a Sequani citizen and plasterer, (made this) for his incomparable and most kind wife, who lived with me 5 years, 6 months, 18 days without any transgressions. While alive, he saw to the building and dedicated this, while under construction, to himself and his wife. You who read this, go and bathe in the bath of Apollo, which I did with my wife. I wish I were still able to do it.”

 

  1. CIL 06.15346

Hospes quod deico paullum est. Asta ac pellege. Heic est sepulcrum hau(d) pulcrum pulcrai feminae. Nomen parentes nominarunt Claudiam. Suom mareitum corde deilexit souo. Gnatos duos creavit horunc (horum-ce) alterum in terra linquit alium sub terra locat. Sermone lepido tum autem incessu commodo domum servavit lanam fecit dixi abei

“Stranger, what I say is short. Stand and read over it. This is the hardly beautiful tomb of a beautiful woman. Her parents called her Claudia. She loved her husband with all her heart. She had two sons, one of whom she leaves on earth, the other she placed under it. With pleasant conversing but respectable gait she cared for her home and made wool. I have spoken. Move along.”

 

  1. CIL 06.20307

Iulio Timotheo qui vixit p(lus) m(inus) annis XXVIII vitae innocentissim(a)e decepto a latronibus cum alumnis n(umero) VII. Otacilia Narcisa co(n)iugi dulcissimo

“For Julius Timotheus, who lived around 28 years of a most innocent life, cheated by bandits along with his 7 fostered children. Otacilia Narcisa (made this) for her sweetest husband.”

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This is from the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum