Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The stars and the moon, full moon and… an intruder?

Keeping the moonlight theme, which will accompany us for a number of posts, we have 3 Sappho quotes today.
  • The first one, translated in May/June/July 2010 to Latin Italian and English, and some time later into Romagnolo, a translation then modified from nascònd to arpõna in l. 2, lost on the computer, recompleted ("Quãnd che, pìna, su luṣ d'arzẽt" then changed to the below version) on Jul 18 2017… the first one, I was saying, is a single Sapphic stanza. The first two lines are uncontroversial. Line 3 looks like ὄπποτα πλήθησι μάλιστα λάμπει in one manuscript and like my text in the other one. L. 4 has only γᾶν left. It is usually integrated with ἐπὶ παῖσαν, leaving ἀργυρία in the middle of an otherwise lost l. 5. That adjective comes from someone saying that "Sappho says the moon is silver and because of this hides the stars around it", which evidently refers to this stanza. Since ἀργυρία fills the lacuna perfectly, I thought of inserting it there, and interpreting πλήθοισα as "filling" (cfr. the πλήθησι in manuscript (ii)), with "is" implied. Edmonds decides to amend λάμπῃ to λάμπησ', «when, full and silver, it more than ever enlightens the earth». Another possibility, of course, but mine is, IMO, supported by manuscript (ii).
  • The other two texts are uncontroversial quotes… well, the second one has two small doubts, ὤρχηντ'/ὤρχεντ' and πόας/ποίας, which do not alter the translation, and a dispute about the authorship: Bergk says «Sapphonis haud dubie sunt versus» (these are undoubtedly lines by Sappho), Lobel-Page and Campbell place them in the "incerti auctoris" (uncertain author) section, and I have no clue why to do either :).
  • By the way, that one is the intruder: I honestly have no clue why I pictured these Cretan women dancing in the moonlight when no such hint is in the text. But whatever, I'll put it here anyway.
The Sapphic stanza is rendered in the usual meter, with the usual rhyme scheme. The other fragments are one in ––uu–u–x–x and one in x–uu––uu–u–x, rendered as ––uu–u–u–u and triakaidekasyllabics respectively, with scheme AABBCC…. Let's get into them!


Ἄστερες μὲν ἀμφὶ κάλαν σελάνναν
Αἶψ’ ἀπυκρύπτοισι φάεννον εἶδος,
Ὂποτα πλήθοισα μάλιστα λάμπῃ
ἀργυρία γᾶν.


Le stelle attorno͜ a quella luna bella
Presto nascondonsi allorché quella,
Argentëa, la nostra terra bella
Di luce͜ inonda.
Pūlchrăm īll’ āstrī prŏpĕ lūnăm īpsī
Lūmĭnōs’ ĭmāgĭnĕm ābcĕlānt su͞am,
C’ īllă tērrām lūcĕ pŏtīssĭm’ ārgēn-
tōquĕ ĭnūndăt.


The stars around the moon most beautiful
Do quickly hide their face, as she, be͜ing full,
With light doth make our earth down here all full
By silver waves.


Al stël atôran a ch’la bëla lõna
Prëst la luṣ 'd la su fàẓa agli arpõna,
Quând che piò tânta luṣ d’arzẽt la-s dõna
P’r ‘e nòstar mònd.



Πλήρης μὲν ἐφαίνετ’ ἀ σελάν‹ν›α·
αἲ δ’ ὠς περὶ βῶμον ἐστάθησαν


Piena͜ ora si mostra͜ in ciel la luna;
Ciò͜ intorno͜ all’altare quelle͜ aduna.




Κρῆσσαί νύ ποτ’ ὦδ’ ἐμμελέως πόδεσσιν
ὤρχεντ’ ἀπάλοισ’ ἀμφ’ ἐρόεντα βῶμον
ποίας τέρεν ἄνθος μάλακον μάτεισαι.


Danzavan le Cretesi͜ in ritmo co͜i lor piè
Teneri ’ntorno͜ all’ara͜ amabile così
Pestando d’erba͜ il molle fiore tenero.
Cūm plēnă tĕtēndĭt ōră lūnă
Īllǣ tŭm ĭērĕ cīrcŭm ārăm.


In the sky full moon there was by then,
And they went around the altar then.




Crētǣ sălĭēbānt pĕdĕ fēmĭn’ ōlīm
Mōll’ cārmĭnĕ cīrc’ ārăm ǎmābĭlēm, flōs
Hērbǣ tĕnĕrūm mōllĕquĕ cōmprĭmēntēs.


Women in Crete did dance in rhythm right around
Th’ lovely͜ altar with their tender feet thus to the ground
The tender flow’r and soft of grass a-crushing down.

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