Ovicls Early Life

This selection is from the account of his life that Ovid wrote in exile.

Sulmo mihi patria est, gelidis uberrimus undis, 3 milia qui noviens distat ab urbe decern.

editus hie ego sum, nec non, ut tempora noris, 5

cum cecidit fato consul uterque pari.

nec stirps prima fui: genito sum fratre creatus, 9

qui tribus ante quater mensibus ortus erat. 10

Lucifer amborum natalibus adfuit idem: una celebrata est per duo liba dies.

text P. Ovidii Nasonis Tristia, ed. J. B. Hall (Bibliotheca Teubneriana, 1995)

meter elegiac couplet [§m 2]

Sülmö mi|hi pätri|(a) est || geli|dis ü|berrfmüs | ündis miliä I qui növi|ens || distat äb | ürbe de|cem

3ff. Sulmo Sulmönis m. a town east of Rome in central Italy (modern Sulmona); patria -ae f. here native place; take gelidis ... undis (abl. of respect [§G46]) with überrimus (superl. of über (überis) to express a very high degree [§G54]), very rich in cool waters (unda -ae f. wave, but often used in poetry as a synonym for aqua); qui (antecedent Sulmo) is postponed [§G4]; milia miles (mille passuum lit., a thousand paces, the Roman measure for longer distances); noviens ... decern lit., nine times ten—poets often had difficulty in fitting numbers into verse (cf. 1. 10); distö -are be distant; urbe i.e., Rome; editus ... sum 1 sg. perf. ind. pass, edö edere (tr.) give birth to; hie adv. here; nec nön and indeed—in Latin, two negatives cancel each other out; ut introduces an adverbial clause of purpose [§<3 83]; tempora pi. for sg. [§G53]; nörls (= növeris, 2 sg. perf. subj. act. noscö -ere get to know) you may know—the perfect of nosed can have the present sense of know.

6 The line establishes the year of Ovid's birth (43 B.c.) by reference to an event in the civil war between Octavius (the future emperor Augustus) and the forces of Brutus and Cassius; cecidit 3 sg. perf. ind. act. cadö -erefall, be killed; fatö ... pari abl. of cause [§G48] by the same (par (paris) lit., equal) fate; consul consults m. consul, the highest Roman political office; the consuls, killed in the batde of Mu-tina, were C. Vibius Pansa and A. Hirtius, the latter having written the eighth book of Caesars de bellö Gallicö.

9f. stirps stirpis f. offspring; primus first; three verbs are used with the meaning to be born; gignö -ere, creor -äri, and orior orlri (lit., rise); genito (perf. pple. of gignö) fratre abl. absolute [§G49], trans, after the birth of my brother; the antecedent of qui is fratre; take tribus ... quater mensibus (abl. of measure of difference [§043]) with ante, lit., previously by [the measure of]four times three months (men-sis mensis m.).

1 if. The brothers had the same birthday; Lücifer ... idem the same Morning Star (Lücifer Lücifer! m.); ambö -örum pron. both; nätälibus abl. of time when [§g 37] at the birthdays (nätälis nätälis m.); adsum be present; üna ... dies one day—dies, usually m., is here f.; celebrö -are celebrate; libum -I n. (a kind of) cake.

protinus excolimur teneri, curaque parentis 15

imus ad insignes urbis ab arte viros. frater ad eloquium viridi tendebat ab aevo, fortia verbosi natus ad arma fori: at mihi iam puero caelestia sacra placebant, inque suum furtim Musa trahebat opus. 20

saepe pater dixit "studium quid inutile tempt as?

Maeonides nullas ipse reliquit opes." motus eram dictis, totoque Helicone relicto scribere temptabam verba soluta modis: sponte sua carmen numeros veniebat ad aptos, 25 et quod temptabam scribere versus erat.

i5f. protinus from the start; excolimur historic pres. [§g6o], i pi. pres. ind. pass, excolo -ere educate; teneri (adj. tener tenera tenerum tender, at a young age) agrees with the understood subject, we; cura instrumental abl. [§g47] through the care; parens parentis m./f. here father; imus historic pres. [§g6o], i pi. pres. ind, act. eo ire go; insignes ... ab arte noted for (lit., from) [their] ability.

17 eloquium -(i)I n. oratory; viridi ... ab aevo from a young age (aevum -I n.); tendebat was inclined (tendo -ere).

18 verbosi ... fori of the wordy Forum—the Forum was the center of the Roman legal world, and the strong weapons (fortia ... arma) were the skills needed to cope there; a legal career was one of the options open to a young man (cf. Ovid Amdres i.i$.jiE, page 128).

I9f. mihi ... puero dat. after placebant (used to delight); iam here still; caelestia sacra divine rites (sacrum -I n.)—we learn from the next line that the rites were those of the Muse (Musa -ae f.) who inspired poetry; take inque (= in + -que) suum ... opus together; furtim adv. secretly; with trahebat supply me,

21 quid (why) is postponed [§g4]; studium ... inutile a useless pursuit (studium -(i)l n.); tempto -are attempt, try out.

22 Maeonides -ae m. another name for Homer, the greatest of poets (cf. Ovid Amdres l.is.gf., page 129, and Lucretius De rerum natura 3.1037, page 24); nullas ... opes no wealth.

23 motus eram 1 sg. pluperf. ind. pass.—the pluperfect expresses a state in the past, lit., I was in a state of having been moved, trans. I was influenced; dictis instrumental abl. [§g47] by [his] words; toto Helicone relicto abl. absolute [§g4g]— Mt. Helicon (Helicon Heliconis m.) in Boeotia was the home of the Muses (cf. 1.4 of Persius' prologue, page 166) and here symbolizes poetry.

24 verba soluta modis words freed (solvo -ere) from meters (modus -I m.; abl. of separation [§G4o], pi. for sg. [§g53]), i.e., prose.

25 sponte sua of its own accord; carmen carminis n. here poetry; numeros ... ad aptos in suitable rhythms (numerus -I m.)—ad here means in conformity with.

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