Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Here is today's distich by John Owen, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey, 2:52. Note how the second hemistich of the second line heightens the sense of paradox. The word dulcis modifies dolor (which is a paradox in and of itself), but consider the second hemistich as a unit: dulcis amarus amor, where love itself becomes both bitter and sweet. The title, Amator, means "Lover."

Spes incerta, timor constans, fugitiva voluptas,
Gaudia moesta, dolor dulcis, amarus amor.

Uncertain Hope, Fear constant, flying Pleasure,
Sad Joyes, sweet Grief, Love bitter. Where’s the Treasure?

The vocabulary is keyed to the DCC Latin Vocabulary list. There are only three words in this poem that are not on the DCC list:

amārus -a -um - bitter, pungent, harsh
fugitīvus -a -um - running away, fleeing, fugitive
incertus -a -um - uncertain, unsure, unreliable

amor -ōris m.: love
cōnstō -stāre -stitī: agree; constat, it is established that (+ infin.)
dolor -ōris m.: pain, grief
dulcis -e: sweet
gaudium -ī n.: delight, joy, pleasure
maestus -a -um: sad, sorrowful; depressing
spēs speī f.: hope
timor -ōris m.: fear
voluptās -ātis f.: pleasure enjoyment