Tuesday, January 03, 2006



Greek Anthology 11.415 (tr. A.S.F. Gow and D.L. Page):
Who can it be, Mentorides, who has so obviously transferred your breech to the place where your mouth used to be? You do not breathe, you break wind; your voice comes from the basement. I cannot understand how your lower became your upper parts.
Martial 1.83 (tr. anon., Bohn Classical Library):
Your lap-dog, Manneia, licks your mouth and lips: I do not wonder at a dog liking to eat ordure.

Os et labra tibi lingit, Manneia, catellus:
    non miror, merdas si libet esse cani.
Martial 3.17 (tr. anon., Bohn Classical Library):
A tart, which had been carried round the second course several times, burned the hand with its excessive heat. But the throat of Sabidius was still more ardent to swallow it; he immediately, therefore, blew upon it three or four times with his mouth. The tart certainly grew cooler, and seemed likely to allow us to touch it. But no one would touch it: it was infected.

Circumlata diu mensis scribilita secundis
    urebat nimio saeva calore manus;
sed magis ardebat Sabidi gula: protinus ergo
    sufflavit buccis terque quaterque suis.
Illa quidem tepuit digitosque admittere visa est,
    sed nemo potuit tangere: merda fuit.
Victorian euphemisms (ordure, infected) appear in the two translations from Martial, who in both epigrams used a vulgar Latin word for excrement (merda, which survives unchanged in Italian and Portuguese and has become mierda in Spanish, merde in French). Brenna Lorenz has compiled a list of euphemisms and colorful expressions for this substance. With Martial 3.17 compare an earlier post on distasteful foods.

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