Thursday, March 03, 2016


A Sojourn in the Country

De habitatione ruris (Anthologia Latina 26 Riese = 13 Shackleton Bailey, my translation):
Staying in the country, asked "What do you do?", I answer briefly.
In the morning, I pray to the gods. I visit my servants, then my fields.
I divide up and assign suitable tasks to my servants.
Then I read, invoke Phoebus, and challenge the Muse.
After this I rub my body with oil, and with gentle gymnastics               5
I exercise as I please. Joyful in mind and free from debt,
I eat, drink, sing, play, wash, dine, rest.
Until my small lamp uses up its bit of oil,
I compose these poems, offerings to the nocturnal Muses.

Rure morans, 'quid agis?', respondeo pauca, rogatus:
mane deos oro; famulos, post arva, reviso
partitusque meis iustos indico labores.
deinde lego Phoebumque cio Musamque lacesso.
hinc oleo corpus fingo mollique palaestra               5
stringo libens. animo gaudens et fenore liber
prandeo, poto, cano, ludo, lavo, ceno, quiesco.
dum parvus lychnus modicum consumit olivi,
haec dat<a> nocturnis elucubrata Camenis.

1 agis codd. rell.: agam cod. Salmasianus (i.e. Parisinus Lat. 10318)
7 prandeo codd.: pondero edd. aliqui
9 dat codd.: data Shackleton Bailey: dato Baehrens
   elucubrata codd. rell.: nox lucubrata cod. Leidensis Voss. Lat. Q.86
Line 7 is a hexameter consisting entirely of verbs in asyndeton. For similar lines in Greek and Latin poetry see:
Some bibliography on this poem:
There is a metrical translation in A Handefull of Pleasant Delites by Clement Robinson and Divers Others (1584; rpt. London: Spenser Society, 1871), p. 31 (tyrd in 4th line from end = tired):
When I in countrie soyle sweet, sappy, rest:
   how I doe spend & passe the tyme away,
If thou do long in few to haue exprest,
   attentiue be, and marke what I shall say.
First serud on knees, the Maiestie deuine:
   my seruaunts next & ground I ouerlook:
To euery man his taske I doe assigne,
   when this is done, I get me to my booke.
For comfortes cause, I rub my corps with Oyle:
   for exercise I wrestle now and than,
With strainyng armes a crash: & tyrd with toile
   I merry make, (endebted to no man)
I ponder, quaffe, sing, play, bath, sup, & sleep,
   somtyme by night, to studie close I creep.
Another translation, this one by Richard Lovelace, in Lucasta: The Poems of Richard Lovelace, Esquire, ed. William Lyon Phelps, Vol. II (Chigago: The Caxton Club, 1921), p. 148 (the translation omits the last two lines of the Latin):
Ask'd in the country what I did, I said:
I view my men and meads, first having pray'd;
Then each of mine hath his just task outlay'd;
I read, Apollo court, I rouse my Muse;
Then I anoynt me, and stript willing loose
My self on a soft plat, from us'ry blest;
I dine, drink, sing, play, bath, I sup, I rest.
Yet another translation, by John Dunlop, Selections from the Latin Anthology. Translated into English Verse (Edinburgh: Thomas Clark, 1838), p. 163:
Whilst I a rustic life enjoy,
You ask what cares my time employ—
First to the gods I homage pay,
And next my fields and slaves survey;
To each, with an impartial care,
His labours for the day I share:
I read, or I invoke the Muse;
And then the unctuous oil I use,
Pleased a few leisure hours to spend
Where wrestlers in the Ring contend:
And as I dine, drink, bathe, sup, rest,
No cares of usury molest.
While my small lamp its feeble light,
Sheds through the watches of the night,
These lines a wakeful hour amuse,
Devoted to the vigil Muse.

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