Friday, October 02, 2015


A Poetical Comparison

Petronius, poem no. 10 (tr. Michael Heseltine, rev. E.H. Warmington):
So, too, the body will shut in the belly's wind, which, when it labours to come forth again from its deep dungeon, prises forth a way by sharp blows: and there is no end to the cold shiver which rules the cramped frame, till a warm sweat bedews and loosens the body.

Sic et membra solent auras includere ventris,
quae penitus mersae cum rursus abire laborant,
verberibus rimantur iter; nec desinit ante
frigidus, adstrictis qui regnat in ossibus, horror
quam tepidus laxo manavit corpore sudor.

1 ventris Riese: ventis V
4 frigidus, adstrictis Reiske: et frigidus strictis V
Edward Courtney, The Poems of Petronius (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991), p. 57:
The point of the poem is the comparison of flatulence to a volcanic eruption, the cause of which (as of earthquakes) was usually thought to be subterranean currents of air...


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