all right

Occasionally adding corroborative details to add verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing,
but veridicous accounts
with careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination.

03 July, 2012

Latin and Lexicographical Prudery

Nam castum esse decet pium poetam
ipsum, versiculos nihil necesse est.   
—Catullus, Carm., XVI, 4-6.*

OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE WARNING:  very coarse terms in Latin and English. 

A problem with lexicographical prudishness in Latin dictionaries can be exemplified by translating an elegiac epigram of Martial:
Cum futuis, Polycharme, soles in fine cacare.
   Cum pedicaris, quid, Polycharme, facis?  (VIII, lxix)
In only two lines, three verbs occur which (rare in canonical literature) are absent from many small Latin dictionaries, so a student without access to a larger dictionary might be at a loss (though able to make, no doubt, some fair guesses):
When thou art futuere-ing, Polycharmus, thou art accustomed to cacare in the end.
When thou art pedicare-d, what, Polycharmus, dost thou do?
Furthermore, in fine, found in Juvenal and Martial, has a particular sexual meaning which, too often, dictionaries fail to explain; for example, Juvenal describes the demands of a schoolmaster in his seventh satire as he cares for his boys:
observare manus oculosque in fine trementis. (VII, 241)
Peter Green, in his translation for Penguin (rev., 1974), has, “To keep check over all those darting eyes—and fingers”, but a more explicit translation is, “to observe the hands and trembling eyes in climax.”  Another wittily Shakespearean translation of manus oculosque in fine trementis would be “hands and eyes in fine frenzy rolling”—but I digress.
So, since in fine means “in [sexual] finish”, and futuere, cacare and pedicare mean, respectively, “fuck”, “shit” and “bugger”, we can translate Martial’s epigram (whilst modernising the name with an apposite, topical reference to a pornerastic member of federal Parliament):
Whenever you fuck, Thommo, you shit as you come.
So what do you then, Thommo, when fucked up the bum?
*  For, though an upright poet should be pure,
    there’s no such need for his literature.

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