A Latinate Day

Lughnasa                                                                     Waning Honey Extraction Moon

A Latinate day.  The am found me back in Pentheus, a story in the third book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  I remember the story from the English version, at least in part.  Pentheus gets torn apart by his mother and her fellow Bacchantes while they are in the grip of a Dionysian frenzy.  As I’ve been translating this story, it’s clear that Pentheus is a tragic figure from Ovid’s perspective, a man’s man faced with hordes of soft, sweet smelling boys worshiping a God of irrational behavior.  Romans were not much into ecstasy unless it involved warfare or the circus.

They were orthopraxic in their religious views, at least most Romans were, that is, they believed that right rituals performed at the right time for the appropriate deity trumped everything else.

I have begun, in a modest way, work on the commentary.  I set up some files in Notes but made no entries.  It’s difficult for me, right now, to know what makes sense, but I’ll figure it out.

My next hurdle is to translate the Latin into idiomatic English.  Sometimes I can get there, often not.  To do that I need to have a solid understanding of the grammar–not yet–and a feel for how the Latin makes its meaning, not there either.  At least I’m no longer staring at the words on the page as if they were hieroglyphics.

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