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Subject:Juvenal on smart women
Time:04:15 pm
I just read a few lines of Juvenal's Satires (6.434-56), in which he rants about educated women. I found the lines so interesting that I decided to try my hand at translating them in colloquial prose (I couldn't imagine trying to translate them as poetry). In a few parts I've added contextual information, such as the words "during an eclipse to scare off evil spirits," without which parts wouldn't make sense to the modern reader. I find his tirade particularly amusing in light of the fact that I am married to such a woman. If anyone has any translation tips, I'd be happy to hear them! For your convenience, I've included the Latin here under the cut.

illa tamen grauior, quae cum discumbere coepit
laudat Vergilium, periturae ignoscit Elissae,               435
committit uates et comparat, inde Maronem
atque alia parte in trutina suspendit Homerum.
cedunt grammatici, uincuntur rhetores, omnis
turba tacet, nec causidicus nec praeco loquetur,
altera nec mulier. uerborum tanta cadit uis,               440
tot pariter pelues ac tintinnabula dicas
pulsari. iam nemo tubas, nemo aera fatiget:
una laboranti poterit succurrere Lunae.
inponit finem sapiens et rebus honestis;
nam quae docta nimis cupit et facunda uideri               445
crure tenus medio tunicas succingere debet,
caedere Siluano porcum, quadrante lauari.
non habeat matrona, tibi quae iuncta recumbit,
dicendi genus, aut curuum sermone rotato
torqueat enthymema, nec historias sciat omnes,               450
sed quaedam ex libris et non intellegat. odi
hanc ego quae repetit uoluitque Palaemonis artem
seruata semper lege et ratione loquendi
ignotosque mihi tenet antiquaria uersus
nec curanda uiris. opicae castiget amicae               455
uerba: soloecismum liceat fecisse marito.

Worse than the women I've criticized previously is the woman who, when she reclines at dinner, begins to praise Virgil, pardon Dido for what she did when she was about to die, and pit the poets against each other and compare them, then, in another part, measure Maro and Homer on the scales. Literature teachers yield, public speakers are conquered, the whole crowd is speechless, and neither an advocate nor an auctioneer will speak, nor another woman. Such an abundance of words descends, like when you tell so many basins and bells to be banged during an eclipse to scare off evil spirits. No one should wear out the trumpets or cymbals now: for she could help the laboring moon reappear all by herself! A philosopher imposes a limit even on virtuous things. The woman who wants to be excessively learned and appear eloquent should hike her tunic halfway up her leg like a man, sacrifice a pig to Silvanus, and go bathe in the men's bathroom. A mother -- your wife who sleeps with you -- shouldn't have style of speech or twist arguments around with speech like a weapon, nor know all the histories. Rather, she should be ignorant of everything learned from books. I hate this woman classicist, who tries to recover and recite the skill of Palaemon, always protected by the law and the fact that she never makes a mistake in grammar, and knows by heart verses unknown to me, which men don't give a damn about. She corrects the words of her stupid girlfriends. A husband should be allowed to make a grammatical mistake!

x-posted to my personal LJ
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chrysologus400
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Time:2008-08-01 11:44 pm (UTC)
Woah, you are talking way over my head! I'm still working on being able to read Latin and Greek, let alone compare the classics!
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seasontoseason
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Time:2008-08-01 10:47 pm (UTC)
nice. This is funny... it is actually good evidence, though, of what kind of women there were, even if juvenal didn't like that fact. I laugh to think of a roman wife correcting her husband's grammar. o how times change in the ancient world...
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chrysologus400
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Time:2008-08-01 11:45 pm (UTC)
Yes, that is what struck me about it too. It feels relevant today, even though it's 2000 years old. How little things change.
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