Monday, December 5, 2011

Oculi Reipublicae

Here is today's distich by John Owen, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey, 3.196. This epigram is based on a chiastic parallel: in the first line you have law and religion (lex et religio), and in the second line you have the things they strain: mind and hands (mentes, manus), the mind by religion and the hands by the law: A-B || B-A, lex-religio || mentes - manus.

Oculi Reipublicae
Lex et religio iunxerunt foedera, pravas
Haec hominum mentes comprimit, illa manus.

Religion and Law conjoin, combine,
That curbs mens hearts, their hands this doth confine.

Here is the vocabulary:

oculus - eye
respublica = res publica - republic
lex - law
et - and
religio - religion
iungo - join, connect
foedus - treat, agreement, contract
pravus - crooked, bad, perverse
hic - this, this one
homo - person, man
mens - mind
comprimo - press, suppress, confine
ille - that, that one
manus - hand

I used to have this poster of the film Człowiek z żelaza (Man of Iron) on my wall; as soon as I read Owen's poem, I wanted to use this as the image:

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