Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ad Martialem

Here is today's distich by John Owen, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey, 2.160. Here Owen honors the Roman poet, Martial, the most famous epigrammatic poet in the Roman tradition. Owen's little poem is itself a work of elegant; the first line expresses a pious sentiment, while the second line is a wonderful interplay of three little food metaphors: fel, mel and sal. The image below shows a 15th-century Martial manuscript.

Ad Martialem
Dicere de rebus, personis parcere nosti,
Sunt sine felle tui, non sine melle sales.

Persons thou know’st to spare, to speak of things,
All thy Conceits are honyed, have no Stings.

Here is the vocabulary:

ad - to, toward
Martialis - Martial
dico - say, speak
de - about, concerning
res - thing, matter
persona - person
parco - spare, be sparing
nosco - know, know how to
sum - be, exist
sine - without
fel - bile, bitterness
tuus - your, yours
non - no, not
mel - honey, sweetness
sal - salt; wit, shrewdness, elegance