Saturday, October 22, 2011


A Little Kingdom

Martial 12.31 (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey):
This wood, these springs, this woven shade of overhanging vine, this ductile stream of flowing water, and the meadows and the rose beds that yield nothing to twice-flowering Paestum, and the potherbs green in January and not frostbitten, and the household eel that swims in closed water, and the white tower that harbors birds white as itself, these are the gifts of my lady. To me, when I returned after seven lusters, Marcella gave this house, this little realm. If Nausicaa were to offer me her father's gardens, I could say to Alcinous: "I prefer my own."
The same, tr. Peter Whigham:
This glade, these spring-waters, this laced shade
  of roving vine, irrigant winding stream,
Rose-beds fine as Paestum's, flow'ring twice,
  winter greens that sprout in winter's frosts,
Pet eels squiggling in th' aquarium,
  dovecote white as white doves it harbors—
Gifts of Marcella: I, back (long gone), these
  small domestic sovereignties receive.
Should Nausicaa her father's gardens proffer,
  "Alcinous, thanks," I'ld say, "I like mine best."
The same, tr. Garry Wills:
These woods, these founts, this woven upland vine,
These winding, plashing runnels, all are mine;
These meads that rival Paestum's twice-blown rose,
And winter green not wanned by winter's snows,
The slimy eel that my own fishpond pens,
The dovecote white with snowy denizens,
Marcella's bounty. Wandering long and late,
This home she gave me and this modest state.
Were to my eyes Alcinous' garden shown
I'ld say, "Nausicaa, I prefer mine own."
The Latin:
Hoc nemus, hi fontes, haec textilis umbra supini
  palmitis, hoc riguae ductile flumen aquae,
prataque nec bifero cessura rosaria Paesto,
  quodque viret Iani mense nec alget holus,
quaeque natat clusis anguilla domestica lymphis,
  quaeque gerit similes candida turris aves,
munera sunt dominae: post septima lustra reverso
  has Marcella domos parvaque regna dedit.
si mihi Nausicaa patrios concederet hortos,
  Alcinoo possem dicere 'malo meos.'
The garden of Alcinous was the prototypical locus amoenus in classical literature (Homer, Odyssey 7.112-132, tr. William Cowper):
Without the court, and to the gates adjoin'd
A spacious garden lay, fenced all around
Secure, four acres measuring complete.
There grew luxuriant many a lofty tree,
Pomegranate, pear, the apple blushing bright,
The honied fig, and unctuous olive smooth.
Those fruits, nor winter's cold nor summer's heat
Fear ever, fail not, wither not, but hang
Perennial, whose unceasing zephyr breathes
Gently on all, enlarging these, and those
Maturing genial; in an endless course
Pears after pears to full dimensions swell,
Figs follow figs, grapes clust'ring grow again
Where clusters grew, and (ev'ry apple stript)
The boughs soon tempt the gath'rer as before.
There too, well-rooted, and of fruit profuse,
His vineyard grows; part, wide-extended, basks,
In the sun's beams; the arid level glows;
In part they gather, and in part they tread
The wine-press, while, before the eye, the grapes
Here put their blossom forth, there, gather fast
Their blackness. On the garden's verge extreme
Flow'rs of all hues smile all the year, arranged
With neatest art judicious, and amid
The lovely scene two fountains welling forth,
One visits, into ev'ry part diffus'd,
The garden-ground, the other soft beneath
The threshold steals into the palace-court,
Whence ev'ry citizen his vase supplies.
Such were the ample blessings on the house
Of King Alcinoüs by the Gods bestow'd.

ἔκτοσθεν δ᾽ αὐλῆς μέγας ὄρχατος ἄγχι θυράων
τετράγυος· περὶ δ᾽ ἕρκος ἐλήλαται ἀμφοτέρωθεν.
ἔνθα δὲ δένδρεα μακρὰ πεφύκασι τηλεθόωντα,
ὄγχναι καὶ ῥοιαὶ καὶ μηλέαι ἀγλαόκαρποι        115
συκέαι τε γλυκεραὶ καὶ ἐλαῖαι τηλεθόωσαι.
τάων οὔ ποτε καρπὸς ἀπόλλυται οὐδ᾽ ἀπολείπει
χείματος οὐδὲ θέρευς, ἐπετήσιος· ἀλλὰ μάλ᾽ αἰεὶ
Ζεφυρίη πνείουσα τὰ μὲν φύει, ἄλλα δὲ πέσσει.
ὄγχνη ἐπ᾽ ὄγχνῃ γηράσκει, μῆλον δ᾽ ἐπὶ μήλῳ,        120
αὐτὰρ ἐπὶ σταφυλῇ σταφυλή, σῦκον δ᾽ ἐπὶ σύκῳ.
ἔνθα δέ οἱ πολύκαρπος ἀλωὴ ἐρρίζωται,
τῆς ἕτερον μὲν θειλόπεδον λευρῷ ἐνὶ χώρῳ
τέρσεται ἠελίῳ, ἑτέρας δ᾽ ἄρα τε τρυγόωσιν,
ἄλλας δὲ τραπέουσι· πάροιθε δέ τ᾽ ὄμφακές εἰσιν        125
ἄνθος ἀφιεῖσαι, ἕτεραι δ᾽ ὑποπερκάζουσιν.
ἔνθα δὲ κοσμηταὶ πρασιαὶ παρὰ νείατον ὄρχον
παντοῖαι πεφύασιν, ἐπηετανὸν γανόωσαι·
ἐν δὲ δύω κρῆναι ἡ μέν τ᾽ ἀνὰ κῆπον ἅπαντα
σκίδναται, ἡ δ᾽ ἑτέρωθεν ὑπ᾽ αὐλῆς οὐδὸν ἵησι        130
πρὸς δόμον ὑψηλόν, ὅθεν ὑδρεύοντο πολῖται.
τοῖ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἐν Ἀλκινόοιο θεῶν ἔσαν ἀγλαὰ δῶρα.
John Constable, A Cottage in a Cornfield

Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

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