Saturday, June 25, 2016


Real Men versus Sissies

Vergil, Aeneid 9.603-620 (Numanus Remulus speaking; tr. Frederick Ahl):
We are a species tough from the roots. We carry our new-borns
Straight to the rivers to toughen them up in the cold and the water.
Boyhood means staying awake to go hunting, exhausting the forests.        605
Playtime is breaking in horses and firing off shafts with a horn bow.
Youth means dealing with work, getting used to a bare-bones existence,
Taming the earth with a rake or shaking up towns in a battle.
Steel grinds our life's every stage; our prod for the ox's
Back when it's tired is our spear-shaft reversed. Old age, as it slows us,        610
Can't either lessen our strength or diminish our vigour of spirit.
We hide our grey hairs with our helmets, delight in importing,
Even then, fresh fruits of our hunts, and in living on plunder.
You, with your needleworked saffron and gleamingly purpled apparel,
You take delight in inertia, indulging yourselves in your dances.        615
Tunics for you come with sleeves, and your bonnets have nice little ribbons.
Phrygian women, not Phrygian men, go to Dindyma's highlands,
Skip to where your double woodwinds please local ears. Up on Ida,
Mother is calling you now with her soft Berecyntian boxwood
Pipes and her timbrels. Stop playing with steel. Leave arms to the real men.        620

durum a stirpe genus natos ad flumina primum
deferimus saevoque gelu duramus et undis;
venatu invigilant pueri silvasque fatigant,        605
flectere ludus equos et spicula tendere cornu.
at patiens operum parvoque adsueta iuventus
aut rastris terram domat aut quatit oppida bello.
omne aevum ferro teritur, versaque iuvencum
terga fatigamus hasta, nec tarda senectus        610
debilitat viris animi mutatque vigorem:
canitiem galea premimus, semperque recentis
comportare iuvat praedas et vivere rapto.
vobis picta croco et fulgenti murice vestis,
desidiae cordi, iuvat indulgere choreis,        615
et tunicae manicas et habent redimicula mitrae.
o vere Phrygiae, neque enim Phryges, ite per alta
Dindyma, ubi adsuetis biforem dat tibia cantum.
tympana vos buxusque vocat Berecyntia Matris
Idaeae; sinite arma viris et cedite ferro.        620
See Nicholas Horsfall, "Numanus Remulus: Ethnography and Propaganda in Aen., ix, 598 f.," Latomus 30.4 (Oct.-Dec. 1971) 1108-1116.

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