Brothers Tears

'During a journey to Bithynia in what is now northwest Turkey, Catullus visited the grave of a brother who was buried in the nearby Troad. There he made the traditional gift to the dead (inferiae), which consisted of wine, milk, honey, and flowers.

Multas per gentes et multa per aequora vectus advenio has miseras, frater, ad inferias, ut te postremo donarem munere mortis et mutam nequiquam alloquerer cinerem. quandoquidem fortuna mihi tete abstulit ipsum, 5

heu miser indigne frater adempte mihi, nunc tamen interea haec, prisco quae more parentum tradita sunt tristi munere ad inferias, text C. Valerii Catulli Carmina, ed. R. A. B. Mynors

(Oxford Classical Texts, 1958) meter elegiac couplet [§m 2]

mültäs I per gen|tes || et | mültä per | äequörä | vectüs ädveni|(o) häs mise|räs || frater äd | Inferf|as if. aequor aequoris n. sea; vectus (perf. pple. of vehö -ere), lit., having been carried, trans, after traveling; advenio -Ire come; ad for [the purpose of] (also in 1. 8); the inferiae (-arum were the offering made at a grave.

3 ut introduces an adverbial clause of purpose [§083]; te acc. after dönö (-äre present), which here has the accusative of the receiver and ablative of the gift, viz postremo ... münere mortis last gift of death, i.e., last gift [owed to] the dead; donarem and alloquerer (1.4) are imperfect subjunctive in historic sequence [§G93] after the perfect participle vectus.

4 mütus dumb, trans, silent; nequiquam vainly; alloquor -I address; cinis cineris here f. ashes—the Romans practiced cremation (see page 79).

5 quandoquidem since; mihi dat. of disadvantage [§g 31], lit., to my disadvantage, i.e., from me (also in 1.6); tete = te; abstulit 3 sg, perf. ind. act. auferö -ferre take away; heu interjection alas!; the words miser ... fräter adempte (adimö -ere snatch away) are vocative; indigne adv. undeservedly.

intereä (lit., as it is) strengthens nunc and need not be translated; haec is the object ofaccipe (1. g);priscö ... more abl. of cause [§g48] by ancient custom; quae is postponed [§g 4.]; parens parentis m./f. here ancestor; trädö -ere hand down; tristi munere abl. of manner [§G4s] by way of sorrowful gift.

9 fräternö ... fletü instrumental abl. [§g 47], lit., with fraternal weeping (fletus -üs m.), trans, with a brother's tears; multum mänantia lit., much dripping (mänö -äre; multum is an adverb), but trans, drenched.

10 in perpetuum adv. expression forever; ave hail—-the verb exists only in the imperative active and present infinitive; vale farewell (valeö - ere be well).

accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu, atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale. 10

»: Catullus Carmina 101

Sortes Virgilianae

Attempts to predict the future have taken many forms. One method involved taking acopy of a book considered to be in some way authoritative and opening it at random. The 'first words on the left-hand page were supposed to give some clue about what the future held for the inquirer. Whether the rules of bibliomancy, as this form of absurdity is called, permitted further reading, or even a glance at die right-hand page, is not recorded.

Books favored by bibliomancers include the Bible and Koran, as well as works of Homer and Vergil. Hie Sortes Virgilianae (Divination through Vergil; the form Vir- is a common but incorrect spelling) was practiced up to comparatively recent times. The most famous example of its use concerns the English king Charles I (1625-1649). When fleeing from parliamentary forces seeking to depose him, he consulted the Roman poet and was confronted with the lines in which the deserted Dido curses Aeneas:

Atbello audacis populi vexatuset armis, finibus extorris, complexu avulsus Iuli auxilium imploret videatque indigna suorum funeraj nec, cum se sub: leges pacisiniquae . tradiderit, regno aut optata luce fruatur, sed cadat ante diem mediaque inhumatus harena.

Aeneid 4.61 sff. But constantly attacked in war and by the weapons of a bold people, exiled from his territories, torn from the embrace of [his son] lulus, may he begfor help and witness the cruel deaths of his people; and when he surrenders himself to the terms of an unequal peace, may he not enjoy [his] kingdom or the light he desires (i.e., a happy life), but may he fall before his time (lit., day) and [lie] unburiedin the middle of a beach.

If the king believed in Vergil, he could hardly have been encouraged. He was, in fact, later apprehended, tried as an enemy of the nation, and beheaded.


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