Vergil’s Fans and Foes: Some Prep Work for AP Latin Week

Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, de Liberorum Educatione, chp. 69

“A teacher should prefer Vergil above all other poets, since his eloquence and glory are so great, that they could be neither increased by anyone’s praises nor diminished by anyone’s censure.”

Inter heroicos Vergilium cunctis praeferat, cuius tanta eloquentia est, tanta gloria, ut nullius laudibus crescere, nullius vituperatione minui possit.

Donatus, Vita Vergilii

“Asconius Pedianus wrote a book against Vergil’s detractors, but he nevertheless adds some objections of his own, mostly dealing with Vergil’s narration and the fact that he had taken much from Homer. But he also says that Vergil was accustomed to refute this latter criticism thus: ‘Why did they themselves not try to do take some verses from Homer? To be sure, they would learn that it easier to take Hercules’ club than to lift a verse from Homer.’ Yet, Asconius adds that he decided to retire so that he could do everything to the satisfaction of his malicious critics.”

Asconius Pedianus libro, quem contra obtrectatores Vergiliis scripsit, pauca admodum obiecta ei proponit eaque circa historiam fere et quod pleraque ab Homero sumpsisset; sed hoc ipsum crimen sic defendere adsuetum ait: cur non illi quoque eadem furta temptarent? Verum intellecturos facilius esse Herculi clavam quam Homero versum subripere”; et tamen destinasse secedere ut omnia ad satietatem malevolorum decideret.

Macrobius, Saturnalia 6.2

“I fear that, in my eagerness to show how much Vergil accomplished from his reading of the ancients, and what blossoms and what ornaments he poured forth from all of them into his own poetry, I may accidentally offer an opportunity for criticism to those uncultured and malignant fools who censure such a man for his usurpation of other’s works, not considering that this is the fruit of reading: to imitate those things which you approve in others, and to turn the sayings of others which you marvel at into your own use by a fitting turn. Our poets have done this among themselves, just as much as the best of the Greeks did. And, to avoid talk of foreign precedent, I could show with numerous examples how much the authors of our ancient canon have lifted from one another.”

Etsi vereor me, dum ostendere cupio quantum Virgilius noster ex antiquiorum lectione profecerit et quos ex omnibus flores vel quae in carminis sui decorem ex diversis ornamenta libaverit, occasionem reprehendendi vel inperitis vel malignis ministrem, exprobrantibus tanto viro alieni usurpationem, nec considerantibus hunc esse fructum legendi, aemulari ea quae in aliis probes et quae maxime inter aliorum dicta mireris in aliquem usum tuum oportuna derivatione convertere, quod et nostri tam inter se quam a Graecis et Graecorum excellentes inter se saepe fecerunt. Et, ut de alienigenis taceam, possem pluribus edocere quantum se mutuo conpilarint bibliothecae veteris auctores.

Vergil, Aeneid 2.796-798

“And here, I was shocked to find an overwhelming
Flood of new companions, mothers and men,
A band assembled for exile, a pitiable crowd.”

“Atque hic ingentem comitum adfluxisse novorum
invenio admirans numerum, matresque virosque,
collectam exsilio pubem, miserabile vulgus.

Image result for Ancient Roman Vergil

In Anticipation of AP Latin Week: Vergil, In Greek

Schol. In Plato Phaedrus 224b 21

“Virgilios, the poet of the Romans.”

Βιργί*λιος δὲ ὁ ῾Ρωμαίων ποιητὴς…

Greek Anthology: On A statue of the Poet Virgil

“Here stands prominent the clear-voiced swan beloved to Ausonians
Vergil, breathing out beautiful epic, a man whom his paternal Tiber’s
Echoes raised up as a second Homer.”

Εἰς ἄγαλμα τοῦ ποιητοῦ Βιργιλίου

Καὶ φίλος Αὐσονίοισι λιγύθροος ἔπρεπε κύκνος,
πνείων εὐεπίης Βεργίλλιος, ὅν ποτε Ῥώμης
Θυμβριὰς ἄλλον Ὅμηρον ἀνέτρεφε πάτριος ἠχώ.

Gr. Anth 16. 151.—Anonymous: Εἰς εἰκόνα Διδοῦς

“Friend, you are gazing upon an image of that Famous Dido,
An icon shining with her divine beauty.
I looked like this, but I wasn’t the person you hear of,
I have fame for honorable deeds.
For I never gazed on Aeneas nor did I go
To Libya around the time that Troy was sacked.
But I was fleeing the rape of marriage to Iarbas
When I stuck the double-edged sword through my heart.
Muses, why did you station a pure Vergil against me
Who made a lie of my prudence?”

Ἀρχέτυπον Διδοῦς ἐρικυδέος, ὦ ξένε, λεύσσεις,
εἰκόνα θεσπεσίῳ κάλλεϊ λαμπομένην.
τοίη καὶ γενόμην, ἀλλ᾿ οὐ νόον, οἷον ἀκούεις,
ἔσχον, ἐπ᾿ εὐφήμοις δόξαν ἐνεγκαμένη.
οὐδὲ γὰρ Αἰνείαν ποτ᾿ ἐσέδρακον, οὐδὲ χρόνοισι
Τροίης περθομένης ἤλυθον ἐς Λιβύην·
ἀλλὰ βίας φεύγουσα Ἰαρβαίων ὑμεναίων
πῆξα κατὰ κραδίης φάσγανον ἀμφίτομον.
Πιερίδες, τί μοι ἁγνὸν ἐφωπλίσσασθε Μάρωνα
οἷα καθ᾿ ἡμετέρης ψεύσατο σωφροσύνης;

Image result for Ancient Roman Vergil

Embracing the Dead: Homer, Vergil and Macrobius for AP Vergil Week

Odyssey 11.204-222

“So she spoke but as I pondered this in my thoughts,
I wanted to clutch the soul of my departed mother.
Three times I reached out as my heart urged me to embrace her,
And three times she drifted from my hands like a shadow
Ora dream. The grief in my heart only grew sharper
And I spoke to her, uttering winged words.

“Mother, why don’t you wait as I come to hold you,
So we may even in Hades throw our arms around another
And have our fill together of cruel grief?
Or is it that dread Persephone sends only this ghost to me
So I may groan, grieving still more?”

So I spoke and my lady mother responded right away:
“Oh, my child, most ill-fated of all men,
Zeus’ daughter Persephone does not allow you things,
This is the law of mortals whenever they die.
We possess no tendons, flesh or bones—
Those things the strong force of burning fire
Consumed, and when the spirit first leaves its white bones,
The soul flits about and flies like a dream.”

ὣς ἔφατ’, αὐτὰρ ἐγώ γ’ ἔθελον φρεσὶ μερμηρίξας
μητρὸς ἐμῆς ψυχὴν ἑλέειν κατατεθνηυίης.
τρὶς μὲν ἐφωρμήθην, ἑλέειν τέ με θυμὸς ἀνώγει,
τρὶς δέ μοι ἐκ χειρῶν σκιῇ εἴκελον ἢ καὶ ὀνείρῳ
ἔπτατ’· ἐμοὶ δ’ ἄχος ὀξὺ γενέσκετο κηρόθι μᾶλλον,
καί μιν φωνήσας ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδων·
‘μῆτερ ἐμή, τί νύ μ’ οὐ μίμνεις ἑλέειν μεμαῶτα,
ὄφρα καὶ εἰν ᾿Αΐδαο φίλας περὶ χεῖρε βαλόντε
ἀμφοτέρω κρυεροῖο τεταρπώμεσθα γόοιο;
ἦ τί μοι εἴδωλον τόδ’ ἀγαυὴ Περσεφόνεια
ὤτρυν’, ὄφρ’ ἔτι μᾶλλον ὀδυρόμενος στεναχίζω;’
ὣς ἐφάμην, ἡ δ’ αὐτίκ’ ἀμείβετο πότνια μήτηρ·
‘ὤ μοι, τέκνον ἐμόν, περὶ πάντων κάμμορε φωτῶν,
οὔ τί σε Περσεφόνεια Διὸς θυγάτηρ ἀπαφίσκει,
ἀλλ’ αὕτη δίκη ἐστὶ βροτῶν, ὅτε τίς κε θάνῃσιν.
οὐ γὰρ ἔτι σάρκας τε καὶ ὀστέα ἶνες ἔχουσιν,
ἀλλὰ τὰ μέν τε πυρὸς κρατερὸν μένος αἰθομένοιο
δαμνᾷ, ἐπεί κε πρῶτα λίπῃ λεύκ’ ὀστέα θυμός,
ψυχὴ δ’ ἠΰτ’ ὄνειρος ἀποπταμένη πεπότηται.

Macrobius, Saturnalia 5.13

“What do you make of the fact that all of Vergil’s work is made as sort of mirroring of Homer’s”?

Quid, quod et omne opus Virgilianum velut de quodam Homerici opus speculo formatum est?

Aeneid, 6.700-2

“Three times I tried there to wrap my arms around his neck,
Three times his ghost fled the empty closure of my hands,
Something like a blowing breeze or a flying dream.”

Ter conatus ibi collo dare brachia circum,
ter frustra comprensa manus effugit imago,
par levibus ventis volucrique simillima somno.

These lines in the underworld are repeated from Aeneas’ description of his flight from Troy when he bursts back into the city and encounters the ghost of Creusa.

Macrobius (Saturnalia 5.4 ) lists this a one of many passages adapted from Homer. But in his version, he offers a slightly different version of the Latin. Instead of the line listed in most MSS (2.794=6.702) Macrobius has Par levibus ventis volucrique simillima fumo, “similar to light winds and something like floating smoke”.

In his commentary, John Connington doesn’t make much of this variation. He does mention another.

Commentary on 2.792-794

[794] Hom.’s words are σκιῆ εἴκελον ἢ καὶ ὀνείρῳ. Virg., in talking of sleep, probably has a dream in his mind. In any case there is no probability in Macrobius’ (Sat. 5. 5) misquotation ‘fumo,’ which Wakef. adopts. The Medicean of Pierius has a curious variety, “Par levibus pennis volucrique simillima vento.”

Macrobius, Saturnalia 5.14-15

“Has it been proved to you that Vergil cannot be understood by someone who is ignorant of the sound of Latin and is equally distant to one who has not drunk Greek learning deep with the fullest thirst?

If I did not fear making you antsy, I could fill huge volumes with the material he translated from the most obscure Greek teachings. But these assertions are enough to support the thesis I have proposed.”

probatumne vobis est Vergilium, ut ab eo intellegi non potest qui sonum Latinae vocis ignorat, ita nec ab eo posse qui Graecam non hauserit extrema satietate doctrinam?

nam si fastidium facere non timerem, ingentia poteram volumina de his quae a penitissima Graecorum doctrina transtulisset implere: sed ad fidem rei propositae relata sufficient.’

 

Image result for Medieval manuscript Vergil

Rome Was Rebuilt By Expanding Citizenship

 

Velleius Paterculus, History of Rome 2.16.4

 

“Gradually, then, by granting citizenship to those who had not carried arms or had put them down rather late, the population was rebuilt as Pompeius, Sulla and Marius restored the flagging and sputtering power of the Roman people.”

Paulatim deinde recipiendo in civitatem, qui arma aut non ceperant aut deposuerant maturius, vires refectae sunt, Pompeio Sullaque et Mano fluentem procumbentemque rem populi Romani restituentibus.

Any student of Roman history understands that Rome’s expansion and strength relied in part on its ability to absorb and assimilate hostile populations. Today we often forget that the Italian peninsula was far from a uniform culture. (And a tour through modern Italy will confirm the persistence of many differences).  The process, of course, was not without pain and hard compromises, as Vergil echoes in Aeneid 6 during Anchises’ prophecy to Aeneas (851-3):

tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento
(hae tibi erunt artes), pacique imponere morem,
parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.

 

“Roman, remember that your arts are to rule
The nations with your empire, to enforce the custom of peace,
To spare the conquered and to subjugate the proud.”

Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit: Some Vergilian Quotes on His Birthday

Publius Vergilius Maro was born on this day in 70 BCE. He is probably best known for the challenging and unforgettable Aeneid, but his Eclogues and Georgics are eminently quotable. Oh, and a man who writes his own epitaph deserves some respect:

http://twitter.com/DMendelsohn1960/status/654714935671296001

Here are a handful of  our favorite lines.

Aeneid, 1.203

Perhaps one day it will be a joy to remember also these things”

forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit

Eclogues, 3.60

“Beginnings are from Jove, oh Muses! Everything is full of Jove”

ab Jove principium, Musae; Jovis omnia plena

Aeneid, 6.266

“Let me have the right to speak what I have heard”

sit mihi fas audita loqui

Georgics, 1.505-7

“Right and wrong are turned upside down: so many wars throughout the world, so many faces of wickedness, the plow is given no proper respect”

fas versum atque nefas: tot bella per orbem,
tam multae scelerum facies, non ullus aratro
dignus honos

Aeneid, 7.312

“If I cannot bend the gods, I will move Acheron”.

flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.

Eclogues, 4.18-20

“And for you, little boy, the uncultivated earth will scatter its first small gifts, wandering ivy and cyclamens everywhere, beans mixed with laughing acanthus”

at tibi prima puer nullo munuscula cultu / errantis hederas passim cum baccare tellus / mixtaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho.

Aeneid, 12.677

“Whither Zeus and cruel Fortune summon, let us go.”

quo deus et quo dura vocat Fortuna sequamur.

Rumors and RUMOR! A Plautine Road Leads to Vergil (Aeneid 4. 173-188)

Earlier today, I tweeted a quote from Plautus

An old and dear friend of mine, probably still licking wounds from high school Latin responded asking about Vergil’s Rumor. His description in the Aeneid is memorable.

 

“Rumor traveled immediately through the cities of Libya–
Rumor, no other evil can move more quickly:
She grows with speed and acquires strength in motion,
At first, she is small from fear, but soon she raises herself to the sky
and walks onto the land hiding her head among the clouds.
The Earth gave birth to her because she was nursing rage at the gods,
This final daughter—as they claim—a sister to Coeus and Enceladus,
Her feet are swift and her wings are hateful,
A dread creation whose huge body bristles with feathers.
And beneath them all are watchful eyes, chilling to describe
And as many tongues within whispering mouths and between attentive ears.
At night she flights mid-sky and over the shadowed earth,
Hissing, refusing to rest her eyes in sweet sleep.
At day she stands guard at the highest roof-peak
Or on looming towers as she brings the cities terror.
She sticks at times to base lies and other times to truth.”

Extemplo Libyae magnas it Fama per urbes—
Fama, malum qua non aliud velocius ullum;
mobilitate viget, viresque adquirit eundo,
parva metu primo, mox sese attollit in auras,
ingrediturque solo, et caput inter nubila condit.
Illam Terra parens, ira inritata deorum,
extremam (ut perhibent) Coeo Enceladoque sororem
progenuit, pedibus celerem et pernicibus alis,
monstrum horrendum, ingens, cui, quot sunt corpore plumae
tot vigiles oculi subter, mirabile dictu,
tot linguae, totidem ora sonant, tot subrigit aures.
Nocte volat caeli medio terraeque per umbram,
stridens, nec dulci declinat lumina somno;
luce sedet custos aut summi culmine tecti,
turribus aut altis, et magnas territat urbes;
tam ficti pravique tenax, quam nuntia veri.