Sunday, June 08, 2008

'Leamophants' in Latin

As promised, here's that commissioned "Leamophants" poem elegantly translated into Latin by John King, my friend and Latin teacher these past two years. Just for fun!

Many thanks for this, John. It's marvellous. Though I'd better spare you the Leamington Railway Station poem ...


Barbarico splendore suo longisque tegentes
palpebris oculos saeptae senioribus adsunt
rugosis placie lentas agitantibus aures.
Lascivae lepidam praebent speciem agmine lauto,
civibus ostentant sese mediamque per urbem
iucundae incedunt festo candore nitentem:
quas homines spectant mirati praetereuntes,
haud timidas veluti tandem sine matre puellas
antiqo vel amore aegras Heroidas aevo.
Rure huc advenere, urbano ut sole fruantur,
et vitream opposuit cum forte taberna fenestram,
ipsae se simili mirantur imagine captae.
Serica cuique sua est umbella proboscide curva,
leniter huc illuc quae pulverulenta movetur.

Centum anni fugiunt: illas nunc cernere possis
ante oculos hortis lento agmine procedentes
vespere per mediam frigus sub fluminis undis
corpora mersuras: naso caudaque catenam
inter se nectunt: durum pulsant pede campum
et vasto et tenero - sic stat serrata columna
firma solo. Modo non ingenti mole dianthos
contundunt tagetesque instructos ordine flores.

John King
(Classics Department: Rugby School)


Bo said...

That's delightful!

aliqot said...

I'd love to hear the Latin read aloud - now, should be pronounced more like Italian? What's the current theory on this? Any chance of a sound file?

Jane Holland said...

Can't find my external mic right now, so no sound file available, though it's a good idea. Maybe later.

No, you don't pronounce Latin like Italian. Not officially, at any rate. I've heard people try that and it always sounds a bit too frivolous! Though you do pronounce every letter - unless it's part of a dipthong - so there are similarities with Italian.

There are various schools of thought about Latin pronunciation, but they tend to agree on most things. Hard 'c' is usual. I think stress tends to fall on the penultimate syllable. Some vowels are long, and are marked as such in most texts, but not here. There's a long-standing argument about 'v' versus 'u', but most people seem to come down on the all 'v's are 'u's side these days. If that makes any sense. (Though I still pronounce 'v' as 'v', mainly for aesthetic reasons.)

I'm finding it rather hard to explain the rules of pronunciation, interestingly enough. I started learning Latin when I was 12 - and I'm still learning it now!! - so I tend to pronounce most Latin words by instinct, without thinking specifically about rules.

Perhaps Bo can ride to my rescue here, since he's a trained classicist as well as medievalist, and teaches Latin - amongst other languages - at university level.


aliqot said...

I'll tag this for follow-ups then -
always interested in linguistic oddities - though my main other languages are French and German and I tend to find living languages more accessible than ancient. I 'did' Latin in two years for 'O' Level (giving away my age now).