One hundred lines! One hundred lines,
Of Vergil left remaining.
And when translation’s burnt on Dido’s pyre,
All that’s left undone is explaining.
My RHD colleague Yvette, no; former colleague, now that she is Dr. Yvette Hunt, has decided to enter the classics blogging field with her blog, Spare a Talent, which you will definitely find a valuable resource and on your regular reading list. It is described in the byline as “A sometimes humorous view of ancient history, archaeology and reception”, and I can personally vouch for Yvette’s keen wit and sharp observations. Her first article is the text of her speech in the UQ Classics and Ancient History Society’s debate earlier this week.
esse apibus partem diuinae mentis et haustus | aetherios dixere — Vergil, Georgics 4.220-221
Just saw this quoted in Claire Preston, 2006, Bee London: Reaktion Books. Google tells me that Claire Preston is Professor of Early Modern English literature at the University of Birmingham. It’s quoted, in itself a quote, from 17th C. Italian writer. I really, really, want to like this book. I love Bees. I love this sort of scholarship (although this is not really a piece of serious scholarship, and for me, just light-hearted summer reading). It’s a really interesting book about Bees, their natural and social history,
However the book is full of quotes, from English translations, mostly Dryden, of Vergil, quoted by page number. Which is really, really sloppy, because it makes much of the translation’s meaning (bees keep shop, they live in a commonwealth, etc), when the translations can’t be necessarily trusted. But never mind, until I saw the above passage translated as:
It is said that bees share divine intelligence by drinking ethereal draughts.
I just can’t let it pass. Plainly, apibus is dative/ablative apis (“bee”), so it means “to/by/with/from bees”. diuinae mentis is genitive f. singular, so “of the divine mind” and partem is accusative, and forms both the object and forms part of the infinitive-accusative construction esse … dixere. So I think apibus is dative, so that leaves it as “to/from bees”. However I doubt that et haustus aetherios is the agent of partem diuinae mentis, because clearly the et is introducing a new clause, it’s an additional accusative object with an implicit verb like ‘[given] to the bees’, with aetherios
a nominative an accusative plural adjective used as a substantive “… and drinking ethereal [elixirs]“, supposing that if you can be drinking anything ethereal, it would have to be an elixir of some sort. So I think something like, to be quite literal for the moment about the infinitives:
to be to the bees a share of the divine mind, and drinking ethereal [elixir], to have said.
But of course, infinitive-accusative, oratio obliqua, indirect speech, and esse with the dative can mean in the sense of ‘to belong’ or ‘to pertain to’, so naturally;
It is said that to the bees [belongs] a share of the divine mind, and drinking ethereal elixirs.
Curiously, Lewis and Short on Perseus gives esse as the present infinitive active also of edo, “to eat”, and the presence of haustus, “drinking” … really makes me wonder if the translation could be rendered along the lines of:
It is said that the bees eat of the divine mind, and drink ethereal elixirs.
There’s also a sense with aetherius can mean “heavenly” or “celestial”, not just “ethereal”, and in that sense it tickles my fancy much better in terms of its relation to “the divine mind”, so perhaps we could render it;
It is said that the bees eat the Mind of God, and drink of Heaven.
After all the part of Georgics here immediately after this expounds on how God permeates all existence:
deum namque ire per omnes | terrasque tractusque maris caelumque profundum — Vergil Georgics 4.221-222. (see here).
More prosaically, however, and bringing it back to earth for a moment, I’d say it most likely translates:
It is said that to the bees belongs a share of the divine mind, and the drinking of heavenly elixirs.
I kid you not! From The Independent newspaper — a six part sitcom called Plebs will air on British TV next year (northern Spring). When I first saw the headline I immediately thought of those so-rubbish-they’re-almost-good British 1970s shows like Bless This House, Are You Being Served?, or On The Busses (no, that one’s just plain rubbish), but apparently not:
The much-loved classicist Mary Beard continues to conquer the airwaves, this time as an advisor on Plebs, a new sitcom set in Ancient Rome.
They are comparing it The Inbetweeners (in togas), which doesn’t help me as I’ve never seen that show (just its ads, which were unappealing to me), but here’s a more useful (for me, anyway) log line:
“The idea was to make the historical setting by-the-by and root it in modern concerns. We wanted to stay away from the clichés of camp silliness or austere classical actors,” says [the writer] … “Tonally, it’s much more Seinfeld than Up Pompeii.”
Seinfeld? In Rome? That could be … erm … interesting.
I just got back from Amphorae VI which this year was held at Auckland University, three days of excellent postgraduate papers. Big kudos to organisers Lawrence Xu and Nicola Wright and their team of volunteers! As well as hearing some excellent presentations I got good feedback from several people on my own paper Treachery Worse Than Punic: Livy’s Landscape and Hannibal’s Invasion of Italy, which I will use to hopefully improve it further. Also met and hung out with friends new and old, its great to discuss research in informal settings like this. Its maintained a consistently good quality of papers for six years now! Next year Amphorae VII will be at Sydney University.
School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics
University of Queensland, Australia
A Conference on Olympic Athletes: Ancient and Modern
Date: (Friday-Sunday) 6-8 July 2012
Place: University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD. Australia. 4072.
Call for Papers
Papers are invited for a conference on ‘Olympic Athletes: Ancient and Modern’, which will be held at the University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Australia, from 6-8 July 2012.
The theme can be interpreted fairly broadly, but there is a particular desire to assemble papers which analyse the Olympic experience of athletes from the ancient and the modern games. What was / is special about Olympic competition and Olympic athletes? Who were / are the great Olympic athletes? Why?
All speaking slots will be 30 minutes in duration (20 for paper, 10 for questions). Please send offers of papers, plus a 100-word abstract, to the organizers by Friday 1 June 2012.
Further details will be available soon at http://www.uq.edu.au/hprc. In the meantime, anyone who would like to offer a paper or attend the conference should contact Tom Stevenson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the organizers.
From the announcements mail out of the ASCS Hon Sec. Bruce Marshall, comes this call for papers.
South Italy, Sicily and the Mediterranean: Cultural Interactions Conference
The conference will be held at the Museo Italiano in Carlton, Melbourne between 17th and 21st July, 2012.
Hosted by the Centre for Greek Studies and the A.D. Trendall Research Centre for Ancient Mediterranean Studies at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, this conference will focus on the movement of people and interactions of culture in the region of Southern Italy and Sicily from antiquity until the present. This inter-disciplinary conference seeks to foster critical analysis of geographical and chronological interconnections between Southern Italy, Sicily and the Mediterranean. Consideration of cultural interaction, population movements, and changing religious and philosophical ideas over a period of approximately 3000 years will prompt scholarly discussion around continuity and change over time in this region of the Mediterranean.
Abstracts of 300 words are being sought from academics and graduate students. Abstracts should be sent to Sarah Midford at email@example.com before 6th February 2012. Papers will be programmed into 30 minute timeslots and should be no longer than 20 minutes.
South Italy, Sicily and the Mediterranean: Cultural Interactions Conference, Melbourne 17-21st July 2012: http://www.latrobe.edu.au/humanities/about/events/cultural-interactions-conference/
From the CLASSICISTS mailing list:
September 6th – 8th, 2012, University of Glasgow, UK: ‘The Legacy of the Roman Republican Senate’
Republican Rome has been a powerful and contested constitutional model in the western political tradition. But the Senate is a relatively neglected element in the model. This symposium, supported financially by the British Academy, will explore the roles that the Senate has played in the development of politics, political culture and constitutional theory since the end of the Roman Republic.
Papers on any aspect of the use, abuse and analysis of the Republican Senate from the Roman Empire onwards are welcome. Particular areas of interest may include the role of the Republican Senate in early modern and modern political theory; the emergence of distinctive thinking regarding two-chamber legislatures and the extent to which these reflected awareness of Roman precedents; reference to Roman ideals in the responses to both the American and the French Revolutions; the use in these Revolutions of visual symbolism derived from the Roman Senate; and the development of new vernacular vocabularies to re-evaluate and apply political concepts derived from the classical Latin of the Roman Senate.
Keynote speakers include Dean Hammer (Franklin and Marshall College), Thomas Munck (University of Glasgow), Carl Richard (University of Louisiana at Lafayette) and Matthew Roller (Johns Hopkins University).
Abstracts (350 words max) for 30 minute papers should be sent to the organiser, Catherine Steel (firstname.lastname@example.org) by March 31st 2012.