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A new Manius chapter has been posted (update: Latin Poets, Ulysses and other stuff)

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Helmet found in Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, England (6th cent. AD) One of the images that enrich our soap on Ancient Britannia:

Hi, a new Manius chapter has been written and posted. The English version links to the Italian original.

I hope all is well with you all.

Too late to say anything else. See you tomorrow.



Update. What I had to say I have posted over at the Manius Papirius Lentulus blog dialogue section. Here it is.

Latin Poets of the Golden Age

'A favourite poet' by the Victorian painter Alma Tadema (1888). Detail. Click to enlarge

Regarding this painting by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836–1912) Jenny had asked :

“I need to know which (favorite) poet the Roman women are reading in that painting. I just ordered Slavitt’s translation of Ovid’s Love Poems, Letters and Remedies. Looks great.”

MoR: “According to Rosemary J. Barrow (*L. Alma-Tadema*, Phaidon 2001) the poet is divine *Horace* – I add links for the sake of new readers, and basically am a pedantic teacher to the marrow -, who was from *Venusia*, South Italy, today’s Venosa in Mezzogiorno’s Lucania also called Basilicata.

Rosaria, a first-generation Italian American blogger, is from Venosa: here she describes her home town; the Ford Coppola family is from Bernalda, Lucania, a town not far from Venosa.

[Incidentally, Rosaria’s personal account on his town, with Orazio’s statue in the main piazza, and the bay-leaves crown the best school students received, similar to the one Orazio’s statue wears, is so compelling]

The bronze wall panel behind the 2 Roman women in Tadema’s gorgeous painting has inscribed a few words by Horace. The title of my Manius soap (Misce stultitiam consiliis: Add Folly to Wisdom) is taken from Horace (4 Odes, xii. 28), and the ‘act’ the buddies in the plot perform in the taberna (read Chanting in an Ænglisc taberna) is one of Horace most perfect choral songs from the *Carmen Saeculare* (Song of the Ages!), probably his most perfect (and classical in the real-deal sense of the term) poem.

Horace (together with Vergil) is Rome’s bard and his poems were sacred to the Romans – no easy stuff, Horace; Lord Byron confessed he couldn’t understand Horatius Flaccus; but I believe every minute spent on Horace’s lines is worthwhile  – although sacred, I don’t mean it in the sense of the Judeo-Christian ‘Revealed Writ’ of course. For that – revealed-by-god(s) words – you have to turn, outside the Jewish tradition, to the amazing Orphic Greek literature, for example, which I’m sipping here and there and find terribly inspiring.

Tibullus visiting his beloved Clelia. Click to watch it in full resolution

True Romans & Celts.
A different temperament?

Horace was the most loved ancient poet in 19th century England. His tone befitted the Victorians who kinda felt like the spirituals heirs of the Romans. He was also fun like most Roman writers (he for ex. preferred the liberty of loving slaves or unintelligent women, since Roman matrons were a headache to him, a tad too matriarchal perhaps, but basically I think he didn’t find a long-for-life love (Vergil did, probably, but I guess it was a man) and most of all Horace is the real classical thing more than Vergil in some way, while Tibullus and Catullus (and Vergil) were a bit more … romantic since – so darn interesting for the Manius’ blog – they were Italian Celts from North Italy, id est continental Celts, id est cousins to insular, British-Isles, Celts.

I absolutely adore Tibullus and his elegies, so beautiful & melancholic, and Clelia (Tibullus’ true love – see a painting below- : differently from Horace he was more or less monogamous: Clelia not by chance is Manius’s lost love too.

[Tadema painted Tibullus at Clelia’s, and Catullus at Lesbia’s – see above and below. How could he not ;-) ]

But Manius is not monogamous. Massimo, the positive hero, is.

Ovid is a sparkling choice Jenny. His verses are peculiar, naturally flowing, and possibly much more fun than all the poets I’ve mentioned.

Catullus at Lesbia's by Sir Laurence Alma Tadema (1836-1912). Click to enlarge

All the best Rome could give

ALL these poets are the best Rome could give and were much deeper than the coeval Greek literature, that was extremely refined but void and spineless. Catullus was another first class Italian Celtic poet, very romantic as well. He was in love with the sluttish Clodia he calls Lesbia.

True Romans from Rome were – and still are – not much romantic (in both the arts and common sense of the term); Manius, Massimo, Giorgio (and myself) are partly true Romans, partly North Italian Celtic, so they are a tad romantic too (I guess it takes also bad weather to be ‘romantic’ lol).

I mean, it all fits together perhaps – or so it seems to the Man of Roma (now Manius) ;)

Then Paul Costopoulos had said:

“Now, Manius, I have a throwing dagger but what tells you how I will use it the only time I will be able to throw it because retrieving it once thrown is rather problematic.

Not being a Roman and being a merchant why would I hurt potential costumers?

Of course you are my friend and that could cause me some scruples and those guys do seem to be cutthroats so they could also be out to cut mine, they seem to be somewhat xenophobic.

All considered, I will side with you after all.”

MoR:Being a merchant why would I hurt potential costumers?

Right Paul, you got into the Pavlos character as I see it at least, probably because it’s part of you despite what you may think who knows.

Ulysses and the Sirens by John William Waterhouse (1849–1917). Detail. Via Wikimedia. Click for a bigger image and a higher resolution view of it

Ulysses, ie the Mediterranean Man

To me Pavols is a symbol par excellence of the Mediterranean Man ready to survive in every circumstance and to exchange knowledge goods symbols experiences with a wonderful good nature – given to him by Helios ok – but with an admirable life balance reached tho thru horrible toil it must be said:

the Med, one often forgets, is a ruthless stepmother and no fertile area as the Nordic European lands.

One reason why the Germans are so big compared to the Greco-Romans and successive Mediterranean people: their climate may be horrible but they got BEEFY in the course of the centuries from the beefy cattle that got (and still gets) BIG – as them – from the fat-and-so-green-from-rain darn grass)

« La rareté en Mediterranée – Fernand Braudel écrit – des vrais pâturage. Elle entraîne le petit nombre des bovin … pour l’homme du Nord le bétail de la Méditerranée semble déficient. La Méditerranée, II, pp. 290-291, Livre de Poche »

You add, Paul:

Now, Manius, I have a throwing dagger but what tells you how I will use it the only time I will be able to throw it because retrieving it once thrown is rather problematic.

Well well, I don’t think this to be a problem. I had added the following italic text (but had to prune this and other stuff, it was too verbose:

“Pavlos pulled out an inlaid-with-gold throwing dagger that he always carried with him (even in bed?). He had already shown his ability to use it with deadly precision..

If you have even a colossus before you – Ulysses had one-eyed Polyphemus – you can dispatch him in a second by throwing dagger hurled into the left or right eye (your choice).

But, true, both the Romans & their Greek copain then would all be slaughtered by the rest of the Angles. So yes, Pavols waits for the events to unfold.

Nikos Kazantzakis: Odyssey, a Sequel

nikos kazantzakis

Nikos Kazantzakis, a modern Greek genius. Click for attribution & additional infos

MoR: “A side note à propos de Ulysess. In the winter of 1938, at the age of 45, your father’s countryman Nikos Kazantzakis from Crete (1883 – 1957) published his “Odyssey” (a modern Sequel) in Athens. A huge tome of 835 pages in 24 books with 33,333 verses!

[visit Nikos Kazantzakis’ virtual museum]

There’s a good English translation by a Greek American, Kimon Friar (Simon & Schuster, NY 1958).

The two worked together for a long time in order to achieve a good translation. I, being a book maniac, have it on my shelves but have sipped only here and there.

It is as BEEFY as the Germans mamma mia!!”

About Man of Roma

I am a man from Rome, Italy. I’m 60 and a Roman since many generations. In my blog,, I’m writing down my meditations. The idea behind it all is that something 'ancient' is still alive in the true Romans of today, of which few are left.

9 responses »

  1. Over *at Manius* *Sledpress* left this comment:

    “If Kazantzakis did an “Odyssey,” my ears are perked up. […] Catullus is the only Latin poet I know intimately enough to quote, owing to a collection of wonderful ponied translations. I wish I knew Ovid better. Jenny may incite me.”

    Manius (Man of Roma) replied:

    “If Kazantzakis did an “Odyssey,” my ears are perked up.

    Oh oh, I perhaps see what ya mean. My dear red-headed wench, English is as darn tricky, for a Roman, as ancient Britannia is. I should have never gotten into such a slippery ground. Too late now.

    I’m ‘done’.”

  2. *Richard(us)* also wrote:

    “Never mind, the gladius, the Vikings, the Germans etc. All this scholarship is doing me in.

    I throw myself prostrate at you noble feet and beg: MORE! MORE! civilise me! civilise me! – lest I die having only half lived.

    Manius (Man of Roma):

    “Dear Richardus, all these pleasantries with the verb ‘do’ – you people confound me.

    Hey, what a wonderful game you’ve invented. Pls do beg Richardus, I need to ehm civilise you as much as you need to be civilised by me.

    Btw, since I often feel I’m more savage than you are, I might like to switch: MORE! MORE!

  3. *Rosaria*, whom I had cited, commented:

    “This is all way over my little head, and my provincial and primitive and mostly forgotten Latin knowledge. I only had two years of Latin, and Horace was not among those we studied. After I left for America, I lost track of all things Roman. Now, here I am, as a visitor in a strange land.

    Perhaps, though, I’m the only person on this blog who has actually visited the childhood home of Horace.”

    Manius (Man of Roma), verbosely (damn!):

    Here I am, as a visitor in a strange land [… but] I’m the only person on this blog who has actually visited the childhood home of Horace.

    And in fact I didn’t visit it either lol.

    My dear Rosaria Williams (I forgot your Italian surname), it doesn’t really matter if you have forgotten Latin or if you have never learnt it or the darn Romans go over your head.

    Any person from the Italian deep South (or from Greece etc., or from Marseilles in South France etc) – as my mentor used to say, and I more humbly too – is closer to the Greco-Romans than any scholar of antiquity – and by this I refer to habits, mentality, material culture, superstitions, which btw are just fragments of past religions and not negative stuff AT ALL – and so forth.

    I am not from Mezzogiorno, this great reservoir of the Ancient world, but what saves me a bit is Rome, my great home town, and my sweet mother, a true Roman with a Tuscan skin.

    You are from the deep Italian South, right from Venosa!! From an Italy as it used to be!! So the Romans may be strange land to you, like strange land may be Eire and its west coast to an Irish American who goes there and hears Gaelic spoken in the street. All this may go over his / her head, and yet …

    I will soon – after vacation – write a post about a guy – whose mother from Apulia is Grica, ie speaking a corrupted form of classical Greek – who collected wonderful, AMAZING Greek poems from very old peasants who resound a lot Horace’s or Greek ancient poems!!

    Our mind, cara forte (ie dear, strong) Rosaria, is a huge, layered depository of all cultures past, no matter if we realise it or not. An inventory – I keep saying ad nauseam – of which should be done, in order, as Socrates said, to better ‘know ourselves’. Your memories are a good step in this direction I believe.

    And you now are also Swedish and American!! Isn’t that beautiful?

  4. It is hard to keep up with you, Man or Roma. There is so much ‘food and drink’ here. My notebook overfloweth.

    You ‘sip’ from so much intoxicating beauty.

    ps. The paintings are gorgeous. Gracie.

    • My sweet Celtic woman, dear reader and wonderful commenter (your Celtic blood being absolutely pure by the way, which is of great inspiration as for my Manius hard-for-me-to-write endeavour): the food and drink, pls remember Geraldine, I especially receive from readers like you.

      This blog, like any blog, is a knowledge journey and a give-and-receive thing, how could it be differently.

      Pls allow me, you are too humble, dear woman, since your knowledge in many fields (literature and music included) is striking but it is like discreet embroidered silk: one senses it cannot but be gentle, whispered lest it loses its most precious quality: the silken quality, like the discreet spiritual beauty of the Celtic madonnae, who are one of the theme of my novel that gets nourishment from Celtic readers.

      Pls stay with us, Irish wench. We all need you here. The ‘pure Celtic’, you are the only one to possess.


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