Wednesday, June 14, 2017



Plautus, Poenulus 365-367 (tr. Wolfgang de Melo):
My darling, my pleasure, my life, my charm,
apple of my eye, my lip, my salvation, my kiss,
my honey, my heart, my beestings, my soft little cheese.

mea voluptas, mea delicia, mea vita, mea amoenitas,
meus ocellus, meum labellum, mea salus, meum savium,
meum mel, meum cor, mea colustra, meus molliculus caseus.
On beestings see Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. beest:
The first milk drawn from a mammal, especially a cow, after parturition.
Id., s.v. colostrum:
The milk secreted by a female mammal around the time of giving birth, which is a watery fluid with a high protein content, including maternal antibodies which provide passive immunity to the newborn. In early use also: the cream or coagulated protein of ordinary milk (obs.).
Paul Nixon translates mea colustra as "my peaches and cream."

Eleanor Dickey, Latin Forms of Address (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002; rpt. 2007), pp. 156-157:
[A] string of endearments begins with perfectly plausible addresses such as mea voluptas 'my pleasure' and then progresses into absurdities such as mea colustra, meu' molliculus caseus 'my colostrum, my soft little cheese' for humorous effect (cf. Maurach 1988: 99). Like gallina 'chicken' in the Asinaria, these absurd terms are open to interpretation as less than fully complimentary, and it would be a mistake to assume on the basis of the Plautine evidence that they were ever used as endearments elsewhere in Latin.
But cf. mea colustra as a term of endearment in Laberius, fragment 67: see Decimus Laberius, The Fragments. Edited with an Introduction, Translation, and Commentary by Costas Panayotakis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 392-393, 397-398. And as for bird names used as endearments, ducky (νηττάριον) is as old as Aristophanes (Wealth 1011) and Menander (fragment 652).

I don't have access to Gregor Maurach's commentary on the Poenulus.

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