Saturday, February 18, 2012

Has cum gemina compede...

Here is today's distich by Martial, 3.29. As Martial makes clear here, Zoilus had been a slave but then acquired his freedom and a certain amount of social status. He might wear expensive rings on his fingers now as a result, but he was once a slave and thus had dedicated his first rings to Saturn; those first rings were, indeed, the fetters and chains of a slave. The joke alludes to the practice that newly free slaves would dedicate their fetters to Saturn (note likewise the special privileges slaves enjoyed during the festival of Saturnalia).

Has cum gemina compede dedicat catenas,
Saturne, tibi Zoilus, anulos priores.

Here is the vocabulary:

hic - this, this one
cum - with, together with
gemina - double
compes - shackles, fetters
dedico - dedicate, consecrate
catena - chain
Saturnus - the god Saturn
tu - you
Zoilus - Zoilus
anulus - ring
prior - earlier, prior, first