Some Dramatic Fragments for a Monday Morning

Accius, Principles for Playwrights, 3–6

“Perperos: uneducated, foolish, rude, uncultured, liars. In his Principles Accius uses “perperos to describe common people.
The same poet in that work writes:

Poets are beat up because of this instead of some fault of their own:
The excessive gullibility of your minds or your lack of sophistication.”

Nonius, 150, 11: ‘Perperos,’ indoctos, stultos, rudis, insulsos, mendaces. Accius Pragmaticis—
describere in theatro perperos popularis.
Idem eodem—

et eo plectuntur poetae quam suo vitio saepius
ductabilitate animi nimia vestra aut perperitudine.

Dubious Fragments Attributed to Ennius

24

“Many a menacing machine maximally menaces the munitions”
Machina multa minax minitatur maxima muris

26

“Theta, a letter unluckier than the rest”
O multum ante alias infelix littera theta!

42

“To restep a step…”
regredi gressum

Image result for Ancient Roman Tragedy

Aeneas Gazes Upon the Broken Victors

Accius, Fragment of an unknown play (lines 46-63: from Varro De Lingua Latina 6.60)

This is allegedly Aeneas speaking. I have no idea what is going on here. But a few of these lines are beautiful. And timely.

“Who is it who calls upon my name?”

It is said that Tantalus was born from Zeus
And that Pelops came from Tantalus. Then from Pelops
Atreus was born, who was then the father of our line.
Atreus’ sons, kings, are now preparing their homecoming.

But if you don’t shut up, Menelaos, you’ll fall by this right hand.
And thus, while Argos has power it will strip you of power.
Oh ancient parent of our race, honor of the Argives,
He did the greatest deed when the Danai were turned away
He completed the highest act, the madman regained the fight
With his own hand.
An arrogant victor
He could not endure to be conquered himself
Because of the pain at such terrible fame.

I see you, I see you. Live Ulysses while you can
Seize the final shining light with your eyes.

Is this that Telamon, whom glory has raised
Up to heaven itself
Whom the Greeks used to watch, to whose face
The Greeks always used to turn their own?
His spirit has collapsed with his circumstances.”

Quis enim est qui meum nomen nuncupat?
Iove propagatus est ut perhibent Tantalus,
Ex Tantalo ortus Pelops, ex Pelope autem satus
Atreus, qui nostrum porro propagat genus.
. . . Iam domutionem reges Atridae parant.

Quod nisi quieris, Menelae, hac dextra occides.
Proin demet abs te regimen Argos dum est
potestas consili.
O parens antiqua nostrae gentis, Argivum decus,
. . . Facinus fecit maximum, cum Danais
inclinantibus
summam perfecit rem, manu sua restituit proelium
insaniens.
Victor insolens
ignominiae se dolore victum non potuit pati.

Video, video te. Vive, Ulixes, dum licet;
oculis postremum lumen radiatum rape.
Hicine est Telamo ille, modo quem gloria ad
caelum extulit,
quem aspectabant, cuius ob os Grai ora obvertebant
sua? . . .

. . . Simul animus cum re concidit.

 

Fragmentary Friday, Latin Edition: Accius’ Achilles

 

 Achilles Schools Antilochus in Word Choice (Accius, Myrmidons, 452-7)

“Antilochus, this behavior that you declare obstinacy
I call constancy and desire to practice it.
To conquer and to be called constant
Is something I suffer happily; but I do not tolerate being called obstinate.
Constancy qualifies the brave; untrained men are obstinate.
You add the sense of fault and erase what should be praised.”

Tu pertinaciam esse, Antiloche, hanc praedicas,
Ego pervicaciam aio et ea me uti volo;
Nam pervicacem dici me esse et vincere
Perfacile patior, pertinacem nihil moror.
Haec fortis sequitur, illam indocti possident.
Tu addis quod vitio est, demis quod laudi datur.

Accius, Lucius Accius? A Romen tragedian and scholar who was born before the third Punic War and lived through the time of Sulla.

AChillesAjax

“You go first.” “No, YOU go first”…

Cicero Called Him Ulysses, but Loved Him All the Same: Fragments from Accius’ Ajax

Cicero de Officiis III.97 (=Accius fr. 109-114, Amorum Iudicium)

We probably should not be surprised if Cicero favors Odysseus…

“What indeed do you think Odysseus would have heard if he had continued in that lie? Even when he had accomplished the greatest feats in War, he still heard these kinds of things from Ajax:

‘You all know that he was the only man to break
The sworn oath which he was the first to take
He began to pretend he was insane to avoid fighting.
If the wisdom of observant Palamedes
Had not perceived this criminal audacity
Law would have foundered with its sacred trust.”

[98] Quid enim auditurum putas fuisse Ulixem, si in illa simulatione perseverasset? Qui cum maximas res gesserit in bello, tamen haec audiat ab Aiace:

“Cuius ipse princeps iuris iurandi fuit,
Quod omnes scitis, solus neglexit fidem.
Furere adsimulare, ne coiret, institit.
Quod ni Palamedi perspicax prudentia
Istius percepset malitiosam audaciam
Fide sacratae ius perpetuo falleret.”

Elsewhere (Charisius, G.L. I. 283, 30) the fragments have Ajax getting a little sarcastic.

“Oh, I saw you, Odysseus, knock down Hector with a stone.
I saw you protect the Greek fleet with your shield,
All while I quaked and plead for a shameful flight!”

Vidi te, Ulixes, saxo sternentem Hectora
Vidi tegentem clipeo classem Doricam;
Ego tunc udendam trepidus hortabar fugam.

What Ails Awake Plagues in Sleep as Well: Accius on Dreams

Accius, Brutus 29-38

“King, it is not at all a surprise that the things men do in life, what they think
Worry over, see, what they do and pursue while awake, should plague each man
While sleeping too. But in this one, the gods present you something quite unexpected.
Be on guard that the many you consider an imbecile just like a sheep
Might actually possess a heart especially safeguarded with wisdom.
He may supplant you in this kingdom: for the sign which comes to you from the sun
Foretells of a great change in the near future for your people.
May these things actually be a good change for the people.
For, since the most powerful sign moved from left to right in the sky,
It has prophesied that the Roman Republic would reign on high.”

Rex, quae in vita usurpant homines, cogitant curant vident
Quaeque agunt vigilantes agitantque ea si cui in somno accidunt
Minus mirum est, sed di in re tanta haut temere inprovisa offerunt.
Proin vide ne quem tu esse hebetem deputes aeque ac pecus
Is sapientia munitum pectus egregie gerat,
Teque regno expellat; nam id quod de sole ostentum est tibi
Populo conmutationem rerum portendit fore
Perpropinquam. Haec bene verruncent populo! Nam quod ad dexteram
Cepit cursum ab laeva signum praepotens, pulcherrume
Auguratum est rem Romanam publicam summam fore

Three Latin Fragments from Ajax’ s Speech Against Odysseus: Lucius Accius’ Lost Arms

The mythical and poetic traditions around the Trojan War make the Judgment of the Arms (the contest for Achilles’ weapons between Odysseus and Ajax) a common motif in art and literature. The Roman Tragedian Accius had his own version. Here are some fragments.

103-108

“His words [i.e. Achilles’] speak clearly, if you understand them.
He commands that his weapons be given to the kind of man
Who bore them, if we desire to overpower Pergamum.
I declare that I am that man, that it is right for me to use
The weapons of my kin, that they be allotted to me
Either because I am his relative or his rival in bravery.”

Aperte fatur dictio, si intellegas:
Tali dari arma, qualis qui gessit fuit,
Iubet, potiri si studeamus Pergamum.
Quem ego me profiteor esse, me est accum frui
Fraternis armis mihique adiucarier
Vel quod propinquus vel quod virtuti aemulus.

109-114

“This man [Odysseus] was the only man who ignored the sworn oath
Which he took first and you all made together.
He tried to pretend to be insane to avoid the fighting.
If observant Palamedes in his wisdom
Had not noticed the malicious daring of this coward
The law of sacred oath would be meaningless forever.”

Cuius ipse princeps iuris iurandi fuit
Quod omnes seitis, solus neglexit fidem;
Furere adsimulare, ne coiret, institit
Quod ni Palamedi perspicax prudentia
Istius percepset malitosam audaciam,
Fide sacratae ius perpetuo falleret.

115-117

“Yeah, saw you, Ulysses, breaking Hector on a rock.
I watched you defending the Greek fleet with your shield,
While I, trembling, clamored for shameful flight.”

Vidi, te, Ulixes, saxo sternentem Hectora,
Vidi tegentem clipeo classem Doricam;
Ego tunc pudendum trepidus hortabar fugam.

Fragmentary Friday, Latin Edition: Accius’ Achilles

 Achilles Schools Antilochus in Word Choice (Accius, Myrmidons, 452-7)

“Antilochus, this behavior that you declare obstinacy
I call constancy and desire to practice it.
To conquer and to be called constant
Is something I suffer happily; but I do not tolerate being called obstinate.
Constancy qualifies the brave; untrained men are obstinate.
You add the sense of fault and erase what should be praised.”

Tu pertinaciam esse, Antiloche, hanc praedicas,
Ego pervicaciam aio et ea me uti volo;
Nam pervicacem dici me esse et vincere
Perfacile patior, pertinacem nihil moror.
Haec fortis sequitur, illam indocti possident.
Tu addis quod vitio est, demis quod laudi datur.

Accius, Lucius Accius? A Roman tragedian and scholar who was born before the third Punic War and lived through the time of Sulla.

AChillesAjax

“You go first.” “No, YOU go First”…

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