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A. M. Juster and Robert Maltby (eds), Oxford World's Classics: Tibullus: Elegies
- 1Dicamus bona verba: uenit Natalis ad aras:
- 2 quisquis ades, lingua uir mulierque faue.
- 3urantur pia tura focis, urantur odores,
- 4 quos tener e terra diuite mittit Arabs.
- ipse suos Genius adsit uisurus honores,
- 6 cui decorent sanctas mollia serta comas.
- 7illius puro destillent tempora nardo,
- 8 atque satur libo sit madeatque mero.
- 9adnuat et, Cornute, tibi, quodcumque rogabis.
- 10 en age, quid cessas? adnuit ille: roga.
- 11auguror, uxoris fidos optabis amores:
- 12 iam reor hoc ipsos edidicisse deos.
- 13nec tibi malueris totum quaecumque per orbem
- 14 fortis arat ualido rusticus arua boue,
- nec tibi gemmarum quicquid felicibus Indis
- 16 nascitur, Eoi qua maris unda rubet.
- 17uota cadunt. utinam strepitantibus aduolet alis
- 18 flauaque coniugio uincula portet Amor.
- 19uincula quae maneant semper, dum tarda senectus
- 20 inducat rugas inficiatque comas.
- 21hic ueniat, Natalis, auis prolemque ministret,
- 22 ludat et ante tuos turba nouella pedes.
- Editor’s Note1Let's speak with joyous words; Birth-Spirit* nears the altar.
- 2 Those present, male or female, hold your tongue!
- 3Let hearths burn holy incense; let them burn perfumes
- 4 some gentle Arab sends from fruitful lands.
- Editor’s NoteThe Genius* himself should come to see his rites
- 6 where tender garlands deck his sacred hair.
- 7His temples should be dripping with pure spikenard oil;
- 8 he should be cramming cakes and swilling wine.
- 9He should be nodding yes to what you ask, Cornutus.
- 10 Look! Move! Go ask him! Why delay? … HE NODDED!
- Editor’s Note11I'm betting you will be praying for a wife's true love;*
- 12 I guess by now the gods themselves have learned that.
- 13Nor would you wish for any fields throughout the world
- 14 that some stout farmer ploughs with his strong ox,
- nor gems begotten in abundant India
- 16 where water of the Eastern Sea turns red.
- Editor’s Note17Prayers tumble out.* O may Love soar on beating wings*
- Editor’s Note18 to here and carry wedlock's golden bonds,*
- 19the bonds that last forever as creeping age
- 20 is bringing wrinkles and is tingeing hair.
- 21Birth-Spirit, let him come and give grandparents heirs
- Editor’s Note22 so mobs of children frolic at your feet.*
Like 1.7 this is a birthday poem, in this case addressed to Tib.'s friend, Cornutus, who is also the addressee of Elegy 2.3. Whereas in 1.7 the birthday of Messalla provided the occasion for a poem on his triumph, here the birthday of Cornutus is the starting point for a poem predicting his marriage (11–22). We are to imagine Cornutus engaged to a girl he would like to marry; the birthday would provide a suitably auspicious occasion for the marriage to take place. An inscription in Rome dated to 21 or 20 bc (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 6.323338) mentions Cornutus with Messalla as a member of a priestly college, the Arval Brothers. His full name is M. Caecilius M.f. Gal. Cornutus. He probably served with Messalla in the camp of the liberators after the death of Julius Caesar, and inscriptional evidence also connects him with Messalla's trip to the East in 30 bc, which was the background to Elegy
3.1. The forthcoming marriage, mentioned in the second half of the poem, could possibly have linked Cornutus with Messalla's family.
Like 2.1 this is a dramatic elegy in which Tib. performs the role of master of ceremonies. The opening echoes the first couplet of the previous poem in its appeal for ritual silence (1–2). Cornutus' Genius, probably in the form of a statue, is to attend the ceremony and witness the burning of incense and the offering of gifts in his honour (3–8). Tib. asks the Genius to grant Cornutus' wishes and when he sees the Genius nod, he asks Cornutus to make his request (9–10). Tib. prophesies that Cornutus will ask for a wife's faithful love (11–12), which he will prefer to all the riches of the world (13–16). When Cornutus makes his prayer Tib. requests Amor to come flying down bringing with him the golden bonds of a stable marriage (17–20). In the last couplet the birthday and wedding themes are combined when Tib. asks the Birthday Spirit to provide Cornutus with offspring in the future.
5 Genius: see note to 1.7.49. His image would be carried from the shrine of the Lares within the house to the scene of the birthday ceremonies. The apparent nodding of assent by the Genius in 10 would not then be pure fantasy.
11 a wife's true love: Tib. prophesies that Cornutus will pray to be married to a loyal wife.
17 Prayers tumble out: i.e. from Cornutus' lips. He finally makes his prayer. on beating wings: winged Amor or Cupid was a familiar figure in the art and poetry of the time.
22 frolic at your feet: the reference is to crowds of children playing around the foot of the Genius's statue.