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Subject:Reading in Bed
Time:03:17 pm
Liber eram et vacuo meditabar vivere lecto.
I was free and planned to live my life in an empty bed.

That's the first line of Propertius 2.2. Apart from the (at least at first appearance) attractive and simply funny thought of living one's whole life in bed, empty or otherwise, I think Propertius hints at a bookish life (liber), spent reading (lecto). I'm not an expert on Propertius and I haven't got a decent commentary at hand, so: is it likely that he would have played with words like that?
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ioanna_ioannina
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Time:2013-02-05 03:50 pm (UTC)
I'd say it's not impossible, on condition that he did not feel the difference between liber (a book) and liiber (free) so strongly, that it would eliminate all the similarity between the two words. We have to keep in mind that until Augustin, nobody was reading silently, to read meant automatically to recite, therefore to hear the text. But on the other hand, if he did not want to use the word "liber", he could use any of the synonyms, so in reading, we have to take the word with its whole cloud of meanings and connotations (not only free, but "not a serve of anything", too, and maybe "liber - liber", as you propose).
Moreover I see two coniunctions by alliteration there: liber - lecto (very audible because of the positions of the words, in the beginning an the end of the verse) and vacuo - vivere. Propertius was poeta doctus from the group of neoterics who liked to play with figures like this. So we can pay attention to all four of those "highlighted" words.
I mean, it may be further evidence that your theory works.
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leopold_paula_b
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Time:2013-02-06 10:32 am (UTC)
Thanks a lot!
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leopold_paula_b
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Time:2013-02-11 03:47 pm (UTC)
Not strictly revelant to my question, but I just remembered Horace's "cantamus (,) vacui" (Odes 1.6.19), where "vacuus" means "fancy-free". (And both David West and Niall Rudd translate it like that.) Considering that we get to hear "vacuo meditabar vivere" before "lecto" comes as a kind of "punchline", I'm almost sure that Propertius wants us to think of himself as fancyfree as well as of his bed as empty.
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ioanna_ioannina
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Time:2013-02-12 07:05 pm (UTC)
Yes, I can agree. Horatius' "convivia... cantamus, vacui" for me seems to be a counterpart to "quis Martem... scripserit". I'm just thinking, whether he meant it as a laus to pax Augustea, or a pun to Agrippa (like "don't introduce themes like this, you brute"), or a shot to his own lines (like "we are incapable of previous grave heroic poetry").
But definitely yes to the pun in "vacuo... lecto".
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