Friday, November 09, 2007

more than my eyes...

Reading a bit of Catullus recently, I was struck by a phrase I’d never noticed before. He speaks of loving someone ‘more than one's eyes’:

passer mortuus est meae puellae,
passer, deliciae meae puellae,
quem plus illa oculis suis amabat.

My girlfriend’s sparrow has died,
The sparrow, my girlfriend’s darling,
Whom she loved more than her eyes.

(Catullus, Carmen 3)

ni te plus oculis meis amarem,
iucundissime Calve, munere isto
odissem te odio Vatiniano

If I didn’t love you more than my eyes
Calvus you joker, then an account of your gift
I’d hate you with Vatinian hatred.
(Catullus, Carmen 14)

credis me potuisse meae maledicere vitae,
ambobus mihi quae carior est oculis?

Do you believe that I could have cursed my life
Who is dearer to me than both my eyes.

(Catullus, Carmen 104)

I had a quick look through Ovid’s Amores, to see if Ovid uses the same kind of idiom. I couldn’t find any examples, but he does often talk about swearing ‘by one’s eyes’:

at mihi te comitem iuraras usque futuram—
per me perque oculos, sidera nostra, tuos!

But you swore to stay with me forever,
By me and by your eyes, my stars.

(Ovid, Amores II 16.43-44)

perque suos illam nuper iurasse recordor
perque meos oculos: en doluere mei!

I remember that she swore recently, by her eyes
And by mine too: and look, now they’re in pain!

(Ovid, Amores III 3.13-14)

Parce, per o lecti socialia iura, per omnis
qui dant fallendos se tibi saepe deos,
perque tuam faciem, magni mihi numinis instar,
perque tuos oculos, qui rapuere meos!

O spare me, by the bed that made our bond, by all the
Gods who have let you take their names in vain,
By your face as great to me as the great gods of heaven,
And by your eyes, which ravished mine.

(Ovid, Amores III 11b.13-16)

2 comments:

Selena Belle said...

Umm... I've changed my mind. Please don't mark my Livy Assignment! I'll just take it back. It's not particularly good, and I don't like it. Thus, pleeeease don't mark it. Just... may I have it back? Or if you have started marking it, can you throw it out?

I'm sorry to waste your time, but the more I think about it, the more dissatisfied I am with my work. Call me a perfectionist, call me what you will, but I don't like it.

Sorry sir.

Also, with the Catullus vs. Catullus essay, do you want us to talk about why the poems are effective/not effective at getting their point, emotions and message across, or do you want it in terms of how their effective as lyric poems (or something as equally difficult to argue)?

jm said...

talk about how each poem is effective at getting its message- you're right that to talk about how effective they are as examples of the lyric genre is way too difficult at this point.