Our theme this time is going to be Latin literature ( stop, stop, you are far too kind), which I am using as prep for our Catullus ( eum amo) unit.

I guess we will start with Vergil, because I love him.
UPENN the Vergil Project

arma virumque cano: I sing of arms and a man...
The opening words of the Aeneid.

Ne equo credite, Teucri! Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. Do not believe the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even bearing gifts
Also from the Aeneid; Laocoon entreating the Trojans to get rid of the horse. Laocoon_Pio-Clementino_Inv1059-1064-1067.jpgIt doesn't go over so well.

disarm: a: to deprive of means, reason, or disposition to be hostile <disarmed criticism by admitting her errors>
b: to win over
2 a: to divest of arms <disarm captured troops>
b: to deprive of a means of attack or defense <disarm a ship>
c: to make harmless <disarm a bomb>
credence: a belief that something is true
I have met people who give credence to the idea that the missing link is out there.

The Aeneid: the epic poem by Vergil that tells the story of Aeneas' journey from Troy to the founding of Italy. It was written during the age of Augustus, and it is also a peice of political propaganda...Aeneas IS AugustusAeneas_fleeing.png

Meter is the rhythm established by a poem, and it is usually

dependent not only on the number of syllables in a line but also on the way

those syllables are accented. This rhythm is often described as a pattern of

stressed and unstressed syllables. The rhythmic unit is often described as a

foot; patterns of feet can be identified and labeled.
The Aeneid is written in dactlylic hexameter, as are the Iliad and the Odyssey.

aeneid scansion

still with the Aeneid of Vergil...because I love him.

dux femina facti: a woman the leader of the deed
fama volat: rumor flies

convolute( con + volare) to roll together

effeminate: similar to a woman

Dido: queen of Carthage, widow of Sychaeus, lover of Aeneas; commits suicide when he deserts her, cursing him and crying out for an avenger to rise from her blood.
This famous passage is an after the fact foretelling of the rise of the great African general, and the most feared enemy of Rome, Hannibal. He was the Carthaginian general who led the Carthaginian army in their invasion of Italy over the Alps and into the Po Valley....barbarians at gates, for real.

elision: the omission of syllables; in meter one "weak" or "soft" syllable elides into another

e.g camera=camra
vegetable= vegtable

Sum pius Aeneas: I am pious Aeneas.

facilis descensus Averno: the descent to Hell is easy from our friends at Harvard; it is ever so easy to slip into moral ruin

piety: religious devotion

facilitate: to make easy

So, what is the road to hell business?
Aeneas, like all heros, has to conquer death, albeit metamophorically...so, he descends to the Underworld through lake Avernus in Italy with the Sybil ( priestess of Apollo) as a guide. While he is there he sees lost friends, enemies, his father, and, most poignantly, Dido...

( again from the Vergil Project a UPENN):
Here Tyrian Dido, too, her wound unhealed,
Roamed through a mighty wood. The Trojan's eyes
Beheld her near him through the murky gloom,
As when, in her young month and crescent pale,
One sees th' o'er-clouded moon, or thinks he sees.
Down dropped his tears, and thus he fondly spoke:
“0 suffering Dido! Were those tidings true
That thou didst fling thee on the fatal steel?
Thy death, ah me! I dealt it. But I swear
By stars above us, by the powers in Heaven,
Or whatsoever oath ye dead believe,
That not by choice I fled thy shores, 0 Queen!
Divine decrees compelled me, even as now
Among these ghosts I pass, and thread my way
Along this gulf of night and loathsome land.
How could I deem my cruel taking leave
Would bring thee at the last to all this woe?
0, stay! Why shun me? Wherefore haste away?
Our last farewell! Our doom! I speak it now!”
Thus, though she glared with fierce, relentless gaze,
Aaeneas, with fond words and tearful plea,
Would soothe her angry soul. But on the ground
She fixed averted eyes. For all he spoke
Moved her no more than if her frowning brow
Were changeless flint or carved in Parian stone.
Then, after pause, away in wrath she fled,
And refuge took within the cool, dark grove,
Where her first spouse, Sichaeus, with her tears
Mingled his own in mutual love and true.
Aeneas, none the less, her guiltless woe
With anguish knew, watched with dimmed eyes her way,
And pitied from afar the fallen Queen.

Much of what we know about the Underworld comes from Vergil's account.

catabasis/katabasis in hero stories: a katabasis may be thought of as a symbolic death and resurrection, though the hero neither dies nor returns immortal; it is a kind of rite of passage in which the hero learns something and frequently returns changed in some aspect.


11/13Onto Ovid ( note the alliteration...I am really good)

ut ameris, amabilis esto:" if you wish to be loved, be lovable" ( it's a loose translation, but it works here) This is great advice, no? Simple, but yet frequently overlooked.

Spectatum veniunt,

veniunt spectentur ut ipsae:"they come to see; they come so that they themselves may be seen"
Ovid was refering to women at the games given in Rome, but I think we can all agree this is still applicable today. Think of a high school football game or a concert or any public event like that...there is the actual event, and then the ongoing spectacle in the crowd.

circumspect: thinking carefully about possible risks before doing or saying something ( looking all around) I try to be circumspect before sending a snarky email.

amenity: something that makes life easier or more pleasant ( something likable) I love a hotel that has all the amenities.

life of Ovid I love him,too.

Ovid's influence on Western art and literature cannot be exaggerated. The Metamorphoses is our best classical source of 250 myths. "The poem is the most comprehensive, creative mythological work that has come down to us from antiquity" (Galinsky). Based on its influence, "European literature and art would be poorer for the loss of the Metamorphoses than for the loss ofHomer" (Hadas). Ovid was a major inspiration for Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton, to name a few. If Virgil is Rome's greatest poet, Ovid is the most popular (even in his own time; Ovidian graffiti has been found on the walls of Pompeii).

chiasmus: ABBA;
a phrase in which the the second half is balanced against the first second half with the parts reversed.

Do I love you because you're beautiful?

Or are you beautiful because I love you? - Oscar Hammerstein.

I found it hard,

it's hard to find, oh well, whatever, nevermind -Kurt Cobain

I's not the men in my life

it's the life in my men.- Mae West

I meant what I said and

I said what I meant. - Dr Suess


militat omnis amans: every lover is a soldier ( and Cupid has his camp...)
The motif of the lover as soldier, and of love as a batlle or war is an enduring one...extra credit for finding examples of this motif in popular culture!

Credula res amor est.: Love is a credulous thing...the heart believes what the heart wants to

incredulous: not believing in a stunned way
paramour: a lover ( par + amor); one who loves equally (oohlala)

Ovid says in his letters that he was exiled because of a poem and a mistake:

Ars Amatoria: The Art of Love; written by Ovid, how to get, keep, please and leave a lover; Augustus, apparently was not amused.

Th mistake? Well,it seems Ovid had slept with Augustus' daughter, Julia. he wasn't really very happy about that either. In additon to exiling Julia, Augustus exiled her very many lovers as well, and Ovid is suspected to have been among them. In any event, he was out near the Black Sea, in the the sticks and terribly unhappy.
Ars Amatoria, by Ovid
I myself, I confess, can only feel desire
Under the stimulus of some hurt
But it mustn’t be too gross or overt.
Let your lover worry away and always suppose
Much more than he knows.
Pretend your husband’s a jealous bore, that a spy
Some scowling slave, is keeping an eye
On all you do...and he’ll be thrilled. Unalloyed,
Unmixed with danger, pleasure’s less enjoyed.
Though you’re free as any courtesan,
Appear scared. Though the door’s safe, have the young man
Climb in through the window, while you act afraid.
Then arrange for a well-rehearsed maid
To burst in later, crying, “All is discovered!”
And hustle the quaking boy into a cupboard.
carpe diem: seize the day;
You are already familiar with Horace and didn't even know it...a poet and you didn't know it!
nunc est bibendum: now is the time for drinking
imbibe: to drink ( usually alcohol)
  • A lyric poem in the form of an address to a particular subject, often elevated in style or manner and written in varied or irregular meter.

The Cleopatra Ode
This is from Horace's poem celebrating Augustus' defeat of Cleopatra. It has no mention of Marc Antony to whom Cleopatra was married and against whom Augustus was also fighting. Augustus was very careful to present the war against them as a war against a foreign nation as the Romans had endured about a hundred years of civil war and were all sick to death of it...ergo, he called this a foreign war against Cleopatra and was very carefully created an image of Antony as the puppet of this very foreign woman. What I think is interesting is that while the poem begins with maligning Cleopatra and her culture, it does, in the end, offer her begrudging respect.

Cleopatra-Antony.jpgCleopatra and Antony

Death-Cleopatra-L.jpgThe Death of Cleopatra

BkI:XXXVII Cleopatra

Now’s the time for drinking deep, and now’s the time

to beat the earth with unfettered feet, the time
to set out the gods’ sacred couches,
my friends, and prepare a Salian feast.

It would have been wrong, before today, to broach
the Caecuban wines from out the ancient bins,
while a maddened queen was still plotting
the Capitol’s and the empire’s ruin,

with her crowd of deeply-corrupted creatures
sick with turpitude, she, violent with hope
of all kinds, and intoxicated
by Fortune’s favour. But it calmed her frenzy

that scarcely a single ship escaped the flames,
and Caesar reduced the distracted thoughts, bred
by Mareotic wine, to true fear,
pursuing her close as she fled from Rome,

out to capture that deadly monster, bind her,
as the sparrow-hawk follows the gentle dove
or the swift hunter chases the hare,
over the snowy plains of Thessaly.

But she, intending to perish more nobly,
showed no sign of womanish fear at the sword,
nor did she even attempt to win
with her speedy ships to some hidden shore.

And she dared to gaze at her fallen kingdom
with a calm face, and touch the poisonous asps
with courage, so that she might drink down
their dark venom, to the depths of her heart,

growing fiercer still, and resolving to die:
scorning to be taken by hostile galleys,
and, no ordinary woman, yet queen
no longer, be led along in proud triumph.


fatale monstrum: a lethal monster; Horace's allusion to Cleopatra

odi profanum vulgus: I hate the mob ( the profane crowd)
Apparently, our friend Horace was not a man of the people.

fatal: lethal, that which brings you to your fate ( i.e. your death)

vulgar: common, coarse, unrefined

Marc Antony: Roman general; Julius Caesar's friend and ally, Octavian's rival; Cleopatra's husbans, Octavia's husband ( at the same time); suicide

Caesarion: Cleopatra's child with Julius Caesar...he didn't make it.


da mihi basia mille: give me a thousand kisses!

frater,ave et vale: hail et farewell, brother; written upon the death of his beloved brother often used in funerary inscriptons.
valediction: saying goodbye

1. To associate with others in a brotherly or congenial way.

2. To associate on friendly terms with an enemy or opposing group, often in violation of discipline or orders

Gaius Valerius Catullus: Roman lyric love poet from Verona; contemporary of Julius Caesar. He wrote many poems chronicling his affair with a married woman whom scholars believe was Clodia, the wife of Metellus Celer. She was an aristocrat and a socialite and he wasn't her first or last extra-martial lover. He was madly and passionately in love with her, and she very much enjoyed the attention, but did not necessarily return his feelings. She had one doozy of a reputation...adultery, incest, murder...not the kind of girl you take home to Mom, unless Mom is a criminal.
How do we know this? Well, our friend Cicero, the orator and statemen, had to defend a young man, another lover of hers named Caelius, against a charge of trying to poison her, and he doesn't mince words:

Cicero accused Clodia of being a seducer and a drunkard in Rome and in Baiae and alluded to the persistent rumours of an incestuous relationship with Clodius. Cicero stated that he "would [attack Caelius' accusers] still more vigorously, if I had not a quarrel with that woman's [Clodia's] lover—brother, I meant to say; I am always making this mistake. At present I will proceed with moderation... for I have never thought it my duty to engage in quarrels with any woman, especially with one whom all men have always considered everybody's friend rather than any one's enemy."


ille mihi deo esse videtur: that man seems to me to be a god
Catullus's first poem to Clodia..."ille" is her husband, and he is godlike because he has the privledge of being with Clodia. The poem itself is an allusion to a poem by Sappho.

vivamus mea Lesbia atque amemus: let us live, my Lesbia and let us love

allusion: a reference, either directly or indirectly to a piece of art, myth, literature, music, etc.

pseudonym: a fake name to hide someone's true identity

Lesbia: the pseudonym Catullus gave Clodia. It is a compliment...it means woman from Lesbos. Lesbos was an island where the Greek love poet, Sappho,by whom Catullus was inspired and influenced , lived. The women of this island were educated...hence the compliment. Sappho also happened to have written much of her love poetry to other women ( like to poem to which Catullus alludes above), hence the word "lesbian", but, as far as I know, Clodia was not a lesbian as we understand the word, although I think Sappho was. Oh, the things we learn in Latin class.


odi et amo: I hate and I love; Catullus' poem describing his torment over Clodia.
desinas ineptire: stop being a fool; Catullus' admonition to himself to accept reality

inept: not at all fit or suitable; clumsy

Verona: Catullus' hometown
Simply by devoting himself entirely to poetry, Catullus was rebelling against what was expected of an upper-class Roman. He was one of the Poetae Novi or "New Poets," who used colloquial language and personal experiences as fodder for their work, but also delighted in learned allusion. They were very rock and roll....shunning convention but embracing culture, as rock and roll as Mic and Keith...

Rock and roll, baby!

They, both the poetae novi and Mic And Keith, are capable of great flights of fancy and deep emotion, but do not think they are wussies, because they aren't.