O tu qui servas armis ista moenia,
noli dormire, moneo, sed vigila!
dum Hector vigil extitit in Troia,
non eam cepit fraudulenta Graecia.
Prima quiete dormiente Troia
laxavit Sinon fallax claustra perfida.
per funem lapsa occultata agmina
invadunt urbem et incendunt Pergama.
vigili voce avis anser candida
fugavit Gallos ex arce Romulea;
pro qua virtute facta est argentea
et a Romanis adorata ut dea.
nos adoremus celsa Christi numina:
illi canora demus nostra iubila!
illius magna fisi sub custodia,
haec vigilantes iubilemus carmina!
divina mundi, rex Christe, custodia,
sub tua serva haec castra vigilia.
[tu murus tuis sis inexpugnabilis,
sis inimicis hostis tu terribilis!]
te vigilante nulla nocet fortia,
qui cuncta fugas procul arma bellica.
tu cinge nostra haec, Christe, munimina,
defendens ea tua forti lancea.
[sancta Maria, mater Christi splendida,
haec cum Iohanne theoticos impetra,
quorum hic sancta venerantur pignora
et quibus ista sunt sacrata limina.]
quo duce, victrix est in bello dextera
et sine ipso nihil valent iacula.
fortis iuventus, virtus audax bellica,
vestra per muros audiantur carmina,
et sit in armis alterna vigilia,
ne fraus hostilis haec invadat moenia.
resultet echo: ‘comes eia, vigila!’
per muros, ‘eia!’, dicat echo: ‘vigila!’
(Canto delle scolte modenesi)
O you who guard those walls with arms,
do not sleep, I warn you, keep watch!
While Hector kept watch in Troy
the Greeks did not take it by treachery.
While Troy lay sleeping in the peace of early morning
Synon the traitor unlocked the bolts that betrayed it.
The forces hidden within were lowered down by rope,
they stormed the city, and burned Pergamon.
A white bird—a goose—with watchful cry
put the Gauls to flight from the heights of Rome.
For this virtuous deed its image was made in silver
and was adored as a goddess by the Romans.
Let us worship the lofty power of Christ;
to Him let us offer our sweet-sounding hymns of joy.
Reliant on His great protection, let us sing
these songs of praise to Him as we keep watch!
Christ, king of the world, hold
these watchful camps in Your divine protection!
Be an impregnable wall for Your followers,
be a terrible enemy to Your foes,
through Your vigilance no force can harm us,
for You put all weapons of war to flight.
Surround these our defences, Christ,
protecting them with Your powerful lance.
Holy Mary, splendid mother of Christ,
with John intercede for these things, mother of God,
for Your holy relics are venerated here
and to them his church is dedicated.
Under His leadership our hands are victorious in war
and without Him our spears have no force.
Young men who are strong, daring and brave in battle,
let your songs be heard throughout the walls!
And may the watches change with arms at the ready
lest the treacherous enemy storm these defences.
May the echo resound: ‘Comrades, hail, keep watch!’
Throughout the walls: ‘Hail’, may it echo: ‘Keep watch!’ (tr. Peter Godman)
Huc usque, me miseram!
rem bene celaveram
et amavi callide.
res mea tandem patuit,
nam venter intumuit,
partus instat gravide.
hinc mater me verberat,
hinc pater improperat,
ambo tractant aspere.
sola domi sedeo,
egredi non audeo
nec inpalam ludere.
cum foris egredior,
a cunctis inspicior,
quasi monstrum fuerim.
cum vident hunc uterum,
alter pulsat alterum,
silent, dum transierim.
semper pulsant cubito,
me designant digito,
ac si mirum fecerim.
nutibus me indicant,
dignam rogo iudicant,
quod semel peccaverim.
quid percurram singula?
ego sum in fabulo
et in ore omnium.
ex eo vim patior,
iam dolore morior,
semper sum in lacrimis.
hoc dolorem cumulat,
quod amicus exulat
propter illud paululum.
ob patris sevitiam
recessit in Franciam
a finibus ultimis.
sum in tristitia
de eius absentia
in doloris cumulum.
(Carmina Burana 126)
Until now, poor wretched me,
I’d concealed things well,
and loved cunningly.
Finally, my secret’s out,
for my belly’s swollen up,
showing I’m pregnant and soon due.
On one side my mother beats me,
on the other my father yells at me,
both of them are hard on me.
All alone I sit at home;
I daren’t go out
and amuse myself in public.
If I go outdoors,
everybody looks at me
as if I were a monster.
When they see my belly,
one pokes the other,
and they’re silent till I’ve gone past.
People always nudge each other,
point at me with a finger
as if I’d performed a marvel;
Criticize me with nodding heads,
think I should be burnt on the pyre,
just because I’ve sinned once.
Why should I tell each little thing?
I’m the subject of a story;
I’m in everybody’s mouth.
Because of him I suffer this abuse.
I’m so miserable I’m dying.
I’m always in tears.
And this adds to my troubles,
that my lover’s gone off
because of that trifle.
On account of his father’s rage,
he’s taken off to France
right out of the country.
because of his absence.
What a pile of trouble I’ve had! (tr. Anne L. Klinck)
The daughter of Neleus seems to have become licentious, and to have been corrupted by someone of the barbarians. When a god said that the daughter would point out to Neleus where it was necessary to found [a settlement], they went away to Miletus, and she, revealing her thighs, said: “Who wants to have sexual intercourse with me?” The father, having understood her declaration, founded the colony there. (tr. Ann Suter)
The Thesmophoria is a festival of the Greeks that includes mysteries and is also called the Skirrophoria. It was celebrated according to the more mythical account because, when Kore was snatched by Plouton as she was gathering flowers, a certain swineherd named Eubouleus was tending pigs in the same place and they were swallowed up by Kore’s chasm. Therefore in honour of Eubouleus piglets are thrown into the chasms belonging to Demeter and Kore. And the rotting [remains] of them, after they have been thrown down into the megara (lit. ‘great halls’), are brought up by women called ‘drawers’, who have stayed pure for three days and who go down into the aduta (‘innermost sanctuaries’) and, after they have brought them up, set them on the altars. They believe that whoever takes some of these and mixes them in with his seed-corn will get an abundant crop. They also say that there are snakes down in the chasms, which eat much of what is thrown down. And on that account they clap their hands, whenever the women draw [up the rotted piglets] and whenever they put the moulded objects back again, in order that the snakes, which they consider guards of the aduta, might move away. These same things are also called Arrhetophoria and are celebrated in the same fashion for the birth of the seed and the engendering of human beings. And also brought up there [or ‘on this occasion’] are holy objects which cannot be named, which are prepared from dough made of grain and resemble snakes and male forms. And they get pine-branches because the plant is so productive [of fruit]. Those things and the piglets (these too because of their fertility) are thrown into the socalled megara, the aduta, as we said already, to symbolize the generation of crops and of men, as thank-offerings, as it were, to Demeter, since by supplying her crops she civilized the human race. The account of the festival given above is the mythical one, but the one just mentioned is the natural explanation. It is called the Thesmophoria because Demeter bears the name Thesmophoros, since she establishes laws and rites (thesmoi), in accord with which men must work and get their nourishment. (tr. Colin Austin & Stuart Douglas Olson)
I am an old man, but I drink more than the youngsters; and if I have to dance, I shall imitate Silenus and dance in the middle of the ring, with my wine-flask as my support since my fennel-stick is useless. If anyone wants a fight, let him come over here and fight. Mix the sweet honied wine and bring me the cup, boy. I am an old man, but I drink more than the youngsters. (tr. David A. Campbell)
Sappho was a Lesbian by birth, of the city of Mytilene. Her father was Scamander or, according to some, Scamandronymus, and she had three brothers, Erigyius, Larichus and Charaxus, the eldest, who sailed to Egypt and associated with one Doricha, spending large sums on her; Sappho was more fond of the young Larichus. She had a daughter Cleis, named after her own mother. She has been accused by some of being irregular in her ways and a woman-lover. In appearance she seems to have been contemptible and quite ugly, being dark in complexion and of very small stature. The same is true of (Alcaeus ?) who was smallish . . . (tr. David A. Campbell)
Rusticus indocte si quid dixisse videbor,
da veniam: libros non lego, poma lego.
sed rudis hic dominum totiens audire legentem
cogor Homeriacas edidicique notas.
ille vocat, quod nos psolen, ψολόεντα κεραυνόν
et quod nos culum, κουλεόν ille vocat.
μερδαλέον certe quasi res non munda vocatur
et pediconum mentula merdalea est.
quid? nisi Taenario placuisset Troica cunno
mentula, quod caneret non habuisset opus.
mentula Tantalidae bene si non mota fuisset,
nil senior Chryses quod quereretur erat.
haec eadem socium tenera spoliavit amica,
quaeque erat Aeacidae maluit esse suam.
ille Pelethroniam cecinit miserabile carmen
ad citharam, cithara tensior ipse sua.
nobilis hinc mota nempe incipit Ilias ira:
principium sacri carminis illa fuit.
altera materia est error fallentis Ulixei:
si verum quaeras, hunc quoque movit amor.
hic legitur radix de qua flos aureus exit:
quem cum μῶλυ vocat, mentula μῶλυ fuit.
hic legimus Circen Atlantiademque Calypson
grandia Dulichii vasa petisse viri.
huius et Alcinoi mirata est filia membrum
frondenti ramo vix potuisse tegi.
ad vetulam tamen ille suam properabat, et omnis
mens erat in cunno, Penelopea, tuo:
quae sic casta manes, ut iam convivia visas
utque fututorum sit tua plena domus.
e quibus ut scires quicumque valentior esset,
haec es ad arrectos verba locuta procos:
“nemo meo melius nervum tendebat Ulixe,
sive illi laterum, sive erat artis opus.
qui, quoniam periit, vos nunc intendite, qualem
esse virum sciero, vir sit ut ille meus.”
hac ego, Penelope, potui tibi lege placere,
illo sed nondum tempore natus eram!
No scholar I, but country-bred, so pardon me
If I be crude: trees is my trade, not books, you see.
Yet I know this bloke Homer, for my master proud
Spends all his time out here a-reading him out loud.
I hear, for instance, what we rustics call a prick
Is ‘psolenta kheraunos’ in that chap’s Greek,
And arse is ‘khouleos’, and ‘merdaleos’—’foul’
It means—what you’d expect of prick that’s been in bowel.
If Trojan cock had not brought Grecian cunt such fun,
This Homer fellow’s book could not have been begun.
If bloody Agamemnon’s prick had been less stout,
He’d given old Chryses damn nowt to moan about;
Nor would he then have snatched the maiden from his friend,
And she’d have been Achilles’ own until the end:
Who now upon his Pelethronian lyre must sing
A woeful tune, himself stretched tenser than its string.
And so began the hero’s noble rage, the same
That’s the chief matter of the Iliad’s tale of fame.
The other book’s about Ulysses and his treks,
And, truth to tell, here too the cause of all was sex.
You read about a beauteous blossom, ‘molyhock’,
But when they speak of ‘moly’ they’re really meaning ‘cock.’
What else we read? How Circe—and Calypso too—
Dulichian Ulysses for his fine tool they woo.
Alcinous’ daughter wondered at it next; its size
Was such that leafy bough could not its bulk disguise.
Yet, all the same, to his old woman back he goes:
His mind is in your cunt, Penelope, who chose
To remain true, yet you’d invited many a guest,
So with a crowd of would-be fuckers you were blessed;
The idea being, I dare say, to find out who
Was best at doing it of all that eager crew.
“To firmer member”, says she, “no one could lay claim
Than Ulysses, in strength and skill a master at the game.
I need to know, now he has gone and left no trace,
Which one of you is man enough to take his place.”
I should have been the one, Penelope to fuck
In your mate’s stead. But I was not yet made, worse luck. (tr. William Henry Parker)