The End of a Wild Party

In a futile attempt to forget Cynthia, Propertius hires two prostitutes and has a party while Cynthia is away from Rome.

Cum fieret nostro totiens iniuria lecto, mutato volui castra movere toro. Phyllis Aventinae quaedam est vicina Dianae, sobria grata parum: cum bibit, omne decet. 30 altera Tarpeios est inter Teia lucos, candida, sed potae non satis unus erit. his ego constituí noctem lenire vocatis, et Venere ignota furta novare mea.

text Propertius Elegies, ed. G. P. Goold (Loeb Classical Library, 1990)

meter elegiac couplet [§m2]

cum fte|ret nos|tro || totl|ens In|iuria | lecto muta|to volu|i || castra mo|vere to|ro

27 Cum since; fieret ... iniuria wrong (iniuria -ae f.) was being done—Cynthia was being unfaithful; nostro ... lecto dat. of disadvantage [§G3i] to my (pi. for sg. [§G53]) bed (lectus -I m.); totiens so often.

28 mutato ... toro abl. absolute [§G49], lit., bed having been changed—bed is used by metonymy [§g 97] for partner; castra movere to move camp (a military metaphor).

29 Phyllis ... quaedam est there is a certain Phyllis (Phyllis Phyllidos f. a Greek name); Aventinae ... vicina Dianae a neighbor (vicina -ae f.) of Aventine Diana—there was a temple of Diana on the Aventine Hill.

30 sobria [when] sober; grata parum lit., too little charming, i.e., possessing few charms; omne decet she adorns everything (decet is not used impersonally here).

31 altera... est ...Teia there is another, Teia—Propertius assumes that the reader will know he is talking about prostitutes; take Tarpeios ... inter ... lucos together, [from] among the Tarpeian groves (lucus -i m.), an area between the two peaks of the Capitol.

32 candida/air with the implication of both a fair complexion and beauty; potae (alternate perf. pple. of poto -are, for her [when] drunk) is dative after satis (enough); unus one [man].

33 Take his ... vocatis (instrumental abl. [§047]) with noctem lenire, to pass the night pleasantly (lenio -ire lit., soften) by inviting these (lit., by these having been invited); constitud -ere decide.

34 Venere ignota instrumental abl. [§g47] with a novel (lit., unfamiliar) sexual experience—Venus Veneris f., the goddess of sexual love, is used for the act itself by metonymy [§g 97]; furta novare mea to resume (novo -are) my stolen pleasures (furtum -1 n. lit., [sexual] thefts)—Propertius had been unfaithful to Cynthia before, but he seems to think his infidelities of less importance than hers.

unus erat tribus in secreta lectulus herba. 35

quaeris discubitus? inter utramque fui.

cantabant surdo, nudabant pectora caeco: 47

Lanuvii ad portas, ei mihi, totus eram;

cum subito rauci sonuerunt cardine postes, nec levia ad primos murmura facta Lares. 50

nec mora, cum totas resupinat Cynthia valvas, non operosa comis, sed furibunda decens.

35 tribus for three (tres tres tria); in secreta ... herba in a secluded garden (herba -ae f. here an area covered with grass—this would have been in the peristylium (-ii n. inner courtyard) of Propertius' house; lectulus -I m. couch—a couch for dining is meant, which could accommodate three people reclining on their elbows,

36 discubitus seating [arrangementJ (pi. for sg. [§g53]; discubitus -us m.); inter utramque lit., between each of the two, trans, between the two.

47 The party is underway, but Propertius is unable to assume the proper spirit; cantabant surdo they were singing (canto -are) to a deaf [man] (i.e., me); nudabant pectora caeco they were baring (nudo -are) [their] breasts to a blind [man].

48 Lanuvium -(i)i n. a town in the hills south of Rome where Cynthia had gone; ei (one syllable) an exclamation of distress, often followed by a noun or pronoun in the dat. (here mihi), trans, woe is me!; trans, totus by an adverb [§G55], I was entirely at the gates of Lanuvium, i.e., my whole mind was

49 cum (when) is here followed by the indicative (also in 1. 51); subito suddenly; rauci... postes screechy doors (postis postis m. doorpost, here used by metonymy [§G97] for the door itself—the entrance to a Roman house had double doors; sono -are make a noise; cardine sg. for pi. [§g 53] (cardo cardinis m. (hinge) pin)—a Rom^n door was hinged by two pins (cardines), one projecting up into the frame in which the door swung, the other projecting down into the threshold beneath; unless the pins were constantly lubricated, doors had a tendency to squeak; trans, made a noise with their pins.

50 nec levia ... murmura facta [sunt] and no low murmurs (murmur murmuris n.) were made, i.e., there was a commotion; ad primos ... Lares lit., at the first Lares, trans, in the front room with the Lares—the shrine of the Lares (see "Religion at Rome," page 57) was in the first room (atrium -ii n.) after the entrance (ostium -(i)i n.).

51 nec mora [erat], cum ... lit., nor [was] there delay (mora -ae f.) when ..., trans. and, without delay, ...; although totas is an adjective qualifying valvas, trans, it by an adverb [§g55],fully; resupino -are pull back; valvae -arum double doors— Cynthia has come through the house and pulls open the doors of the peristylium, where the party is being held (see the note to 1.35).

52 Cynthia is described as non operosa comis (not careful with respect to [her] hair (abl. of respect [§G46]; coma -ae f,)) and furibunda decens ([though] furious, elegant)—trans, [her] hair unkempt, but elegant despite her fury.

pocula mi dígitos inter cecidere remissos, palluerunt ipso labra soluta mero, fulminat illa oculis et, quantum femina, saevit, 55

spectaclum capta nec minus urbe fuit. Phyllidos iratos in vultum conicit ungues:

territa"vicini," Teia clamat'aquam!" crimina sopitos turbant elata Quirites, omnis et insana semita voce sonat. 60

illas direptisque comis tunicisque solutis excipit obscurae prima taberna viae.

53 pocula pi. for sg. [§g 53] (poculum -I n. cup)—to drink wine, the Romans used what we would call cups, not glasses); ml (shorter form of mihi) dat. of disadvantage [§g31]; take digitos inter ... remissos together, [from] between [my] slackened (remitto -ere) fingers (digitus -I m.); cecidere = ceciderunt (cado -ere fall).

54 pallesco -ere grow pale; ipso labra soluta merd [my] lips (labrum -I n.) relaxed (solvo -ere) from the wine itself (instrumental abl, [§g47]; merum -I n.)—ipso is added to give emphasis to the phrase and should be translated by indeed; trans. [though] indeed relaxed from the wine—Propertius' lips had felt the relaxing effect of the wine, but even so they reacted to the sight of Cynthia.

55f. fulmind -ate flash with lightning—the historic present [§g6o] is used here and with most of the verbs that follow; oculis abl. of respect [§G46j; trans, [her] eyes flashed with lightning; quantum femina [potest] as much as a woman [can]; saevio -Ire rage; nec is postponed [§g 3]; spectaclum -I n. sight, spectacle; capta ... urbe abl. of comparison [§g 42] with minus, trans, nor was the sight anything short of (lit., less than) [that of] a captured city.

57f. Take Phyllidos (Greek gen, of Phyllis) with vultum; iratus angry; Cynthia is the understood subject of conicit (conicio -ere thrust); unguis unguis m. [finger]nail; The terrified Teia shouted, "Neighbors! (vlclnus -I m.) [Bring] water!"— because of shoddy buildings, fire was a greater danger in Rome than in modern Western cities, and consequendy to shout Aquam!, the equivalent of Fire! today, was a certain way of attracting attention.

59f. Take crlmina (crimen crlminis N. here reproach, abuse) and elata (perf. pple. of effero -ferre utter) together as the subject of turbant (turbo -are disturb); sopitos ... Quirites the sleeping (sopio -ireput to sleep) citizens—Quirites (Quirltium, the formal term for Roman citizens, is used here ironically; et is postponed [§g 3]; omnis ... semita (-ae f. alley) is the subject of sonat, here rang, resounded; insana... voce abl. of cause [§G48] with frenzied voices (sg. for pi. [§G53]).

6if. illas (the two prostitutes) is the object of excipit (excipio -ere receive); direp-tls comis abl, absolute [§G49] with torn (dlripio -ere) hair (see 1. 52);... -que ... -que both ... and ...; tunicls solutis abl, of manner [§G45] with loose (solvo -ere) tunics (tunica -ae f.)—the women did not have time to adjust their clothing; obscurae ... viae on (lit., of) a dark street—Roman streets were not illuminated (cf. note to Propertius Elegies 1.3.10, page 105), but light would have come from an open taberna (-ae f. inn) and so attracted the fugitives.

Cynthia gaudet in exuviis victrixque recurrit et mea perversa sauciat ora manu, imponitque notam collo morsuque cruentat, 65 praecipueque oculos, qui meruere, ferit.

<s Propertius Elegies 4.8.27-36,47-66

63 exuviae -arum spotis—presumably Cynthia came back carrying something she had torn from the fleeing women; victrix (victrlcis) feminine of victor victorious; recurro -ere hurry back.

64 mea ... ora here my face (pi. for sg. [§G53]); perversa manu instrumental abl. [§G 47], lit., with backturned hand, trans, with the back of [her] hand; saucid -are wound, trans, bruise.

65 imponit (impono -ere put) is followed by an accusative, notam (nota -ae f. mark), and dative, collo (collum -I n. neck); morsu ... cruentat draws blood (cru-ento -are) with [her] biting (morsus -us m.).

66 praecipue especially; meruere (= meruerunt) deserved [it]—Propertius' eyes deserved the beating because they had attracted him to other women; ferio -Ire strike.

A Divine Injunction Observed

The Anthologia Latina is a collection of Latin poems that survive from late antiquity many of which are of doubtful authorship and of little merit. The following elegiac couplet is an exception.

Phoebus me in somnis vetuit potare Lyaeum pareo praeceptis: tunc bibo cum vigilo,

Anthologia Latina 1.1.174 (ed. D.R. Shackleton Bailey) In sleep, Phoebus forbade me to drink wine (Lyaeus = Bacchus = wine); I obey his orders: I drink [only] while awake.

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