Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A servo scis...

Here is today's distich by Martial, 1.81. Martial is here playing with the fact that in Latin, the word dominus had a wide range of meaning - it meant "master" in the context of master and slave, but it was also used as a respectful term of address outside of the slavery context, as when addressing one's own patron or father. So Sosibianus was hardly alone is using the title dominus when addressing his father, but Martial makes the practice an object of amusement at Sosibianus' expense: Sosibianus calls his father "master," which must mean that Sosibianus is a slave, which must mean he knows himself to be the son of a slave.

A servo scis te genitum blandeque fateris,
cum dicis dominum, Sosibiane, patrem.


That thou'rt son to a slave, thou dost frankly record,
When, Sosibian, thou titlest thy father "My lord."
- Elphinston

Here is the vocabulary:

a - from, by
servus - slave, servant
scio - know
tu - you
gigno - give birth, bear, beget
blandus - pleasant, flattering
que - and
fateor - confess, admit
cum - when
dico - say, tell
dominus - master
Sosibianus - Sosibianus
pater - father


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