Friday, 9 April 2010

What is given to friends is not lost by Martial

So this Saturday just gone, I had the Northern Oak crew over for our second feast. Catie created some delicious goats cheese tarts, I produced a damn fine lamb roast if I do say so myself and Rich charmed us all once more by making sure his apple crumble had a penis sculpted onto the top...

Sharing a meal with good friends had me thinking of some of the poems I studied in Latin, in particular one of Martial's Epigrams about giving to friends. So I found some translations here.

Unfortunately I can't find the original Latin so you won't be able to appreciate how it originally looked or sounded (or how difficult it can be to write, making sure you follow the specific syllable pattern and slipping a caesura in...)

Waffling aside here is a translation of the specific epigram and someone's attempt to put it into a poetic format similar to the original.


A cunning thief may burst open your coffers, and steal your coin; an impious fire may lay waste your ancestral home; your debtor may refuse you both principal and interest; your corn-field may prove barren, and not repay the seed you have scattered upon it; a crafty mistress may rob your steward; the waves may engulf your ships laden with merchandise. But what is bestowed on your friends is beyond the reach of fortune; the riches you give away are the only riches you will possess for ever.

Thieves may break locks, and with your cash retire;
Your ancient seat may be consumed: by fire:
Debtors refuse to pay you what they owe;
Or your ungrateful field the seed you sow;
You may be plunder'd by a jilting whore;
Your ships may sink at sea with all their store:
Who gives to friends, so much from fate secures;
That is the only wealth for ever yours.

So yes the poem starts off particularly grim by pointing out that at any point life can empty its bowels upon you from whichever height it desires. However that which you give to your friends is outside the evils fate may have in store for you. That good deed is yours and their appreciation is yours.

So myself and 2010 are not exactly seeing eye to eye at the moment and the good times at Chaise Pizza now have a date at which they will end. One Saturday I gave some of my time and money to prepare some food for good friends to enjoy and for me to take delight in their company. Whatever happens, that happy memory is mine.

1 comment:

  1. "I count myself in nothing else so happy,
    As in a soul rememb'ring my good friends"

    Shakespeare - Richard II (I think)