Monday, May 13, 2019


Planting Cabbages

Montaigne, Essays 1.20 (tr. John Florio):
Cum moriar, medium solvar et inter opus.
                            OVID. Am. ii. El. x, 36.

When dying I my selfe shall spend,
Ere half my businesse come to end.
I would have a man to be doing, and to prolong his lives offices, as much as lieth in him, and let death seize upon me, whilst I am setting my cabiges, carelesse of her dart, but more of my unperfect garden.
Cum moriar, medium solvar et inter opus.
Je veulx qu'on agisse et qu'on allonge les offices de la vie tant qu'on peult; et que la mort me trouve plantant mes choulx, mais nonchanlant d'elle et encore plus de mon jardin imparfait.
M.A. Screech, in his translation of Montaigne's Essays (1991; "reprinted with corrections" London: Penguin Books, 2003), p. 99, misquotes the Latin as:
Cum moriar, medium solvare inter opus.

The opus that Ovid is talking about is actually the sexual act—he wants to die the way Nelson Rockefeller did. See the quotation in context, Amores 2.10.35-38 (tr. Grant Showerman):
But for me—may it be my lot when I die to languish in Venus' embrace, and be dissolved in the midst of its delight; and may one, dropping tears at my funeral, say: "Thine was a death accorded with thy life!"

at mihi contingat Veneris languescere motu,
    cum moriar, medium solvar et inter opus;
atque aliquis nostro lacrimans in funere dicat:
    "conveniens vitae mors fuit ista tuae!"
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.


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