Thursday, February 28, 2019

Poem For A Thursday

After finishing David Slavitt's translation of Orlando Furioso--and commenting that I had liked translations of his I'd read earlier--I went and looked up those translations. The one I really remembered was Ausonius, and while he may be helped by the fact nobody actually reads or translates Ausonius, I'm glad he did:

Epigrams: LXXXIX
Give me a mistress cute and pert,
quick to quarrel, and common as dirt,
not too truthful, moody, vain
an exquisite balance of pleasure and pain.
Otherwise, if she be good,
modest, always cheerful in mood,
and an ornament to any man's life,
I'm apt to want her to be my wife.
The mistress comes off rather better than the wife, as Ausonius, or certainly Slavitt, realized. I didn't go read the Latin, though in theory I could, but it strikes me as Very Roman. There are others in the volume equally amusing.

From Slavitt's introduction:
"Decimus Magnus Ausonius was born about A. D. 310 in Bordeaux to Julius Ausonius, a physician, and Aemilia Aeonian, the daughter of one Caecilius Argicius Arborius. He was educated at Bordeaux and then Toulouse, where his maternal uncle Aemilius Magnus Arborius was a professor. When this uncle was summoned to Constantinople to become tutor to one of the sons of Constantine, Ausonius accompanied him....After thirty years or so of [our Ausonius'] teaching, he was summoned by the emperor Valentinian I to be the tutor to the young prince Gratian...The exact date of his death is not known but it was probably toward the end of 393 or in 394, there being nothing any later from his pen."
Be sure to go see the ur-Poem For A Thursday at Holds Upon Happiness.

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