Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Nothing Can Endure Forever

A.E. Housman, "An African Inscription," Classical Review 41.2 (May, 1927) 60-61 (at 61):
I add remarks on a few other inscriptions in Mr Lommatzsch's supplement to Buecheler.


2292, p. 155, lately exhumed at Pompei.
nihil durare potest tempore perpetuo.
cum bene sol nituit, redditur oceano.
decrescit Phoebe, quae modo plena fuit.
Venerum feritas saepe fit dura leuis.
Mr Lommatzsch appends this note:
'1 lege nil. u. 1-3 aliunde sumptos credas (ex poeta neoterico?), si reputes quam rudis iste fuerit poeta in u. 4. Veneres inuenit Catullus.'
The first three verses show clearly how to correct the sense, language, and metre of the fourth. What the man meant to write was
uentorum feritas saepe fit aura leuis.
See also (apparently independently) F.A. Todd, "Two Pompeian Metrical Inscriptions," Classical Review 53.5/6 (November-December, 1939) 168-170 (at 170):
It is with no sinful pride in my sagacity that I offer the correction
VENTORVM feritas saepe fit AVRA leuis
which I made on first reading the inscription in Della Corte's New Excavations (p. 80).
The graffito (now lost) is Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum IV 9123, translated by Kristina Milnor, Graffiti and the Literary Landscape in Roman Pompeii (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 69, as follows:
Nothing is able to endure forever;
    Once the sun has shone brightly, it returns to the ocean;
The moon grows smaller, who just now was full;
    The savagery of the winds often becomes a light breeze.
Id., p. 70:

I think that Marcello Gigante, "Cultura in Pompei antica," Cronache pompeiane 1 (1975) 25-47 (at ?), conjectured Austrorum as the first word of the fourth line. See also his Civiltà delle forme letterarie nell'antica Pompei (Naples: Bibliopolis, 1979), p. 238. Both are unavailable to me.

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