Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Lifestyle of Vestal Virgins, Plutarch, Numa 10.1-3

Praescripsit autem rex Vestalibus triginta annorum castimoniam. Primo decennio discunt ea quae sint sui officii, altero ea exercent, tertio alias ipsae eadem docent. Secundum hoc tempus permissum est illis, quae velint, deposito sacerdotio nubere, aut aliud vitae genus diligere; non multas tamen narrant hac licentia usas et iis, quae eam amplexae fuissent, adversas res evenisse, poenitentiaque et maestitia reliquum vitae tempus vexatas, reliquas in eam superstitionem adduxisse, ut ad senectutem potitus exitumque vitae virginitatem conservarent. Magnos honores his sacerdotibus tribuit Numa, e quorum numero est, quod licebat vivo adhuc patre testamentum condere, quod sine tutore omnia agere poterant, haud secus quam ius trium liberorum adeptae. Cum in publicum progrediuntur, lictores secum habent, ac si tum forte ad capitale supplicium aliquis ducatur, is non necatur; iusiurandum tamen ab ipsis exigitur, forte fortuna se, non data opera, intervenisse. Porro autem qui subit lecticae,qua ipsae vehuntur, moritur. 

ὡρίσθη δὲ ταῖς ἱεραῖς παρθένοις ὑπὸ τοῦ βασιλέως ἁγνεία τριακονταέτις, ἐν ᾗ τὴν μὲν πρώτην δεκαετίαν ἃ χρὴ δρᾶν μανθάνουσι, τὴν δὲ μέσην ἃ μεμαθήκασι δρῶσι, τὴν δὲ τρίτην ἑτέρας αὐταὶ διδάσκουσιν. εἶτα ἀνεῖται τῇ βουλομένῃ μετὰ τὸν χρόνον τοῦτον ἤδη καὶ γάμου μεταλαμβάνειν καὶ πρὸς ἕτερον τραπέσθαι βίον, ἀπαλλαγείσῃ τῆς ἱερουργίας, λέγονται δὲ οὐ πολλαὶ ταύτην ἀσπάσασθαι τὴν ἄδειαν, οὐδὲ ἀσπασαμέναις χρηστὰ πράγματα συντυχεῖν, ἀλλὰ μετανοίᾳ καὶ κατηφείᾳ συνοῦσαι τὸν λοιπὸν βίον ἐμβαλεῖν τὰς ἄλλας εἰς δεισιδαιμονίαν, ὥστε μέχρι γήρως καὶ θανάτου διατελεῖν ἐγκαρτερούσας καὶ παρθενευομένας.

τιμὰς δὲ μεγάλας ἀπέδωκεν αὐταῖς, ὧν ἔστι καὶ τὸ διαθέσθαι ζῶντος ἐξεῖναι πατρὸς καὶ τἆλλα πράττειν ἄνευ προστάτου διαγούσας, ὥσπερ αἱ τρίπαιδες. ῥαβδουχοῦνται δὲ προϊοῦσαι: κἂν ἀγομένῳ τινὶ πρὸς θάνατον αὐτομάτως συντύχωσιν, οὐκ ἀναιρεῖται, δεῖ δὲ ἀπομόσαι τὴν παρθένον ἀκούσιον καὶ τυχαίαν καὶ οὐκ ἐξεπίτηδες γεγονέναι τὴν ἀπάντησιν

--Plutarch, Vita Numae 10.1-3, Translated into Latin by Theodore Doener (1857)

[Numa] determined the term of the Vestal Virgins would be thirty years long. In the first decade, Vestal Virgins learn about their duties; in the second decade, they practice them, and in their third, they teach them. After that time, they are allowed to get married, and start whatever lifestyle they choose. They say that not many women choose to do so, and those that do, do not end up happy, but are full of regret and sorrow. Therefore the bulk of Vestals retain their chaste lifestyle for the rest of their life.

Numa bestowed great honors to the Vestal Virgins. They are allowed to create their own wills independent of their fathers. They are allowed to manage their own household without a male guardian (just like those who have mothered three children). When Vestals go out in public, they have lictors [an honor guard] with them. If someone on death row is brought to their presence, they are not killed, provided that they can make an oath that the meeting was an accident and not actively planned. Moreover, if someone bumps into their vehicle, they are put to death.



Name:  Plutarch

Date:  46 – 119 CE

Works:  Parallel Lives







 Plutarch was a Greek author and Roman citizen who lived during the 1st century CE. He had minor governmental and religious administrative roles during his lifetime, but he is best known for his writings. He has numerous philosophical and historical works still extant, including the Parallel Lives, in which he compares the lives of a Roman and Greek statesman for moralistic purposes.


Thursday, April 20, 2023

M/M: Apollo Mourns Hyacinthus, Faustus Sabaeus

Invita dum caede manus lavat amne cruentas

tristis Apollo: quibus perdidit Oebaliden:

fata suorum animo evolvens crudelia amorum

protulit in casus talia verba truces

iam creuere meo nemora alta cruore: et eodem

vulnere nunc humus est florida, et unda rubet.

----Faustus Sabaeus, Picta Poesis Ovidiana (1580) 

While Apollo mournfully washed the blood off his hands

From the tragic accident and death of Hyacinthus,

The cruel loss of his loved one kept running in a loop through his mind.

He groaned the following words about such an awful loss:

“Already these lofty groves have grown, fertilized by the blood of my loved one,

And now the earth blossoms from a repeated loss,

and the river runs red with blood.”




Friday, April 14, 2023

In Praise of Tiresias: Faustus Sabaeus

De mare quod fies mulier: tibi fata minantur,

masque reverteris, sed sine luce, senex.

Tiresia, et iudex superum, de lite iocosa:

Tristia de dulcia praemia lite feres.

Caecus eris, sed cuncta videbis; poenia iuvabit:

si ventura Dei est noscere, Divus eris.


----Faustus Sabaeus, Picta Poesis Ovidiana (1580)


Fate prophesied that you would transform from a man to a woman;

Then you’d return to being a man, but one without sight.

Tiresias, you were also a judge for the gods, albeit for a trivial dispute

and your reward for the judgment was a punishment.

You were blinded, but you will see it all,

And your punishment will benefit you;

For if it is godlike to know the future, then you are a god.


Friday, April 7, 2023

Apollo, Unlucky in Love: Faustus Sabaeus

Extinctum preciosa Venus plorabat Adonim;

quum super accessit pulcher Apollo & ait,

Una, soror, te cura angit; me bina remordet,

usque adeo, laetus sim licet, ut doleam.

cari inquam semper vivetis amores,

dura nimis Daphne; fauste Hyacinthe parum.

----Faustus Sabaeus, Picta Poesis Ovidiana (1580)

While darling Venus was weeping over her slain Adonis,

Pretty Apollo wandered over and told her,

“Oh sister, one loss pains you, but

I suffer twice as much.

Although I appear happy, I am still grieving them.

My darling loves will forever live on,

Daphne, who had too much pride

And Hyacinthus, who had too little luck."

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Found Family: Noemi & Ruth, Ruth 1:1-17

Although this passage is often used in modern weddings, it depicts a deep and loving bond not between spouses, but between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law. Regardless of whether our support network is comprised of blood relatives or found family, it is important to acknowledge and appreciate those who love us and appreciate us.

* In diebus unius iudicis, quando iudices praerant, facta est fames in terra.

·         In the days of one of the judges (when judges were the government structure of Israel), there was a famine in the land.

* Abiitque homo de Bethlehem Iuda, ut peregrinaretur in regione Moabitide cum uxore sua ac duobus liberis.

·         One man from Bethlehem in Juda left to travel with his wife and two sons to the land of the Moabites.

* Ipse vocabatur Elimelech, et uxor eius Noemi: et duo filii, alter Mahalon, et alter Chelion, Ephrathei de Bethlehem Iuda.

·         This man was named Elimelech, and his wife was named Noemi. Their two kids were named Mahalon and Chelion, Ephrathites from Bethlehem.

* Ingressique regionem Moabitidem, morabantur ibi.

·         They traveled to the land of the Moabites and dwelled there.

* Et mortuus est Elimelech maritus Noemi: remansitque ipsa cum filiis.

·         When Noemi’s husband Elimelech died, it was just her and her two sons.

* Qui acceperunt uxores Moabitidas, quarum una vocabatur Orpha, altera vero Ruth.

·         Her sons married Moabite women; one was named Orpha and the other was named Ruth.

* Manseruntque ibi decem annis, et ambo mortui sunt, Mahalon videlicet et Chelion: remansitque mulier orbata duobus liberis ac marito.

·         They lived there for ten years, but then both of her sons Mahalon and Chelion died. Now the poor woman was bereft of both her husband and her two sons.

* Et surrexit ut in patriam pergeret cum utraque nuru sua de regione moabitide: audierat enim quod respexisset Dominus populum suum, et dedisset eis escas.

·         She took it upon herself to travel back to her homeland with both of her daughers-in-law, for she had heard that the Lord had protected his people, and had provided them with food [i.e., the famine had ended].

* Egressa est itaque de loco peregrinationis suae, cum utraque nuru: et iam in via revertendi posita in terram Iuda, dixit ad eas: Ite in domum matris vestrae faciat vobiscum Dominus misericordiam, sicut fecistis cum mortuis et mecum.

·         She got up and left, and when she was about to travel, she told her daughters-in-law, “Go back home to the home of your mothers. May the Lord take pity on you, just as you have taken pity on both the dead [i.e., your husbands] as well as me.”

* “…Det vobis invenire requiem in domibus virorum, quos sortiturae estis.” Et osculate est eas.

·         “May he give to you peace in the home of your husbands, when you remarry.” And she kissed them.

* Quae elevata voce flere coeperunt, et dicere: “Tecum pergemus ad populum tuum.”

·         They began to cry, and wept, “We will go with you to your people.”

* Quibus illa respondit: “Revertimini, filiae mea, cur venitis mecum? Num ultra habeo filios in utero meo, ut viros ex me sperare possitis? Revertimini, filiae meae, et abite: iam enim senectute confecta sum, nec apta vinculo coniugali: etiamsi possem hac nocte concipere, et parere filios, si eos expectare velitis donec crescent, et annos pubertais impleant, ante eritis vetulae quam nubatis.

·         She responded to them, “My daughters, go back home. Why would you want to go with me? I don’t have any more children in my womb, so you can’t hope for future husbands from me. Go back home, my daughters, and leave me. I am worn out with old age, and too old to get married again. Even if I could conceive a child tonight, and give birth to sons, if you wanted to wait for them to get old enough to marry them, you’d be too old to marry them.”

* “…Nolite, quaeso, filiae meae: quia vestra angustia magis me premit, et egressa est manus Domini contra me.”

·         I beg you, daughters, please don’t stay, for your difficulties weigh upon my heart more than my own, and the Lord has set his hand against me.”

* Elevata igitur voce, rursum flere coeperunt: Orpha osculata est socrum, ac reversa est: Ruth adhaesit socrui suae; cui dixit Noemi: “En reversa est cognata tua ad populum suum, et ad deos suos, vade cum ea.”

·         They both wailed and began to weep. Orpha kissed her mother-in-law, and left her. Ruth, however, clung to her mother-in-law. Noemi told her, “Go on now, she’s travelling back to your kin, and to your own gods. Go with her.”

* Quae respondit: Ne adverseris mihi ut relinquam te et abeam: quocumque enim perrexeris, pergam, et ubi morata fueris, et ego pariter morabor. Populus tuus populus meus, et Deus tuus Deus meus. Quae te terra morientem susceperit, in ea moriar: ibique locum accipiam sepulturae. Haec mihi faciat Dominus, et haec addat, si non sola mors me et te seperaverit.

·         Ruth responded: “Don’t keep me from you, or make me leave. Wherever you will go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live there, too. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. The land that holds your tomb will also accept mine. May the Lord grant me these things, and add one more thing: that only death should ever separate you and me.”

--Ruth 1:1-17



Saturday, April 1, 2023

In Praise of the Ace Champion Daphne, Faustus Sabaeus (1580)

Ad Daphnen

Sunt qui te damnant, Daphne o castissima virgo:

quod tam formosum spernis amata Deum.

Arguo non ego te: quia facta es gloria vatum,

atque triumphantum virginitatis amans.

Nec miror, Phoebum si spreveris, atque Cytheren

Daemonas expellens, nec Iovis arma timens.

----Faustus Sabaeus, Picta Poesis Ovidiana (1580)

To Daphne

O Daphne, chaste maiden,

There are those who criticize you

Because you rejected the love of a beautiful god.

But I’m not going to, for you became the glory of prophets,

who loves those who triumph in their chastity.

If you can spurn both Apollo and even Love herself,

I’m not surprised that you can also expel evil spirits

And are immune from the bolts of Jupiter.