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.


THE COMMON-WEALTHS EYES
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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