Saturday, January 14, 2012

Quo Me Vertam Nescio

Here is today's emblem and distich by Gabriel Rollenhagen, Book 1.14, with an English rendering by George Wither. The emblem shows the famous choice of Heracles, but instead of the traditional allegorical figures (which you can see here, and you can read about the sources of the tradition here), the choice of virtue is represented by a learned man (he looks rather Moses-like), while the choice of love and luxury is represented by a rather demonic-looking woman, who really does not seem all that tempting! Above Hercules is the Greek word ΠΟΤΕΡΟΝ, a word that indicates a question, something like the English word "whether."

Quo Me Vertam Nescio
Nescio quo vertam mentem; vocat ardua Virtus
Huc, illuc Venus et splendida luxuries.

When Vice and Vertue Youth shall wooe,
Tis hard to say, which may 'twill goe.

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, plus one proper noun:

arduus -a -um - steep, uphill, difficult
luxuriēs, luxuriēi - extravagance, profusion, luxury
splendidus -a -um - bright, shining, brilliant
Venus, Veneris f. - Venus, goddess of love, love

ego meī mihi mē: I, me
et: and
hūc: to this place
illūc: to that place
mēns mentis f.: mind
nesciō -scīre: not know, be ignorant
qui quae quod: who, which, what / quis quid: who? what? which?
vertō vertere vertī versum: turn
virtūs -ūtis f.: valor, manliness, virtue
vocō -āre: call