1.13: Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning
The poet’s situation is one that is easy to sympathize with: dawn is coming, he is in bed, and he has company. He hates the thought of getting up, so he complains to Aurora, goddess of the dawn. [full essay]
1–2: venit: notice the scansion, and thus the tense: "is coming." seniōre marītō: the husband of Aurora (Dawn) was Tithonus, an Ethiopian prince. Aurora had obtained the gift of immortality for him, but forgot to ask that he also be granted eternal youth, with the result that he got very old while she stayed young. flāva: "the golden [female] one." Aurora is not named until line 3, but the description here makes it clear whom the poem is about. axe = currū (synecdoche, with a part representing the whole). A playful fresco by Giovanni da San Giovanni from 1634–35 shows a youthful Aurora sprinkling roses upon the aged, sleepy Tithonus, presumably as she prepares to go out to light the world. A Roman sardonyx cameo from around the time of Ovid shows Aurora in full flight atop her chariot.
3–4: quō: "why" or "where to." manē: the a is short, so this is the imperative of maneō, not māne = "early" (see line 25). sīc ... avis: "so to the shades of Memnon may his birds make their annual offering" (Barsby). Memnon, prince of Ethiopia, was the son of Aurora and Tithonus, killed by Achilles in the Trojan war. Each year, according to legend, Memnon’s grave was visited by birds born from his ashes, who then fought among themselves. The blood they shed was thus a sort of offering to their "parent." sīc: see on 1.6.25. In this case the speaker is hoping that Aurora will do as he orders when he says manē. He says that in that case (sīc) he hopes that the grave of Memnon shall continue to receive its annual sacrifice. annua: either an internal accusative, translated as an adverb, "annually," or feminine singular nominative modifying avis. sollemnī > sollemnis, -e, "customary." parentet > parentō -āre, "to make memorial offerings for one’s parents," + dative (umbrīs) and ablative (sollemnī caede). avis: singular for plural. A Dutch illustration for Ovid's Metamorphoses from the early 1600s depicts Memnon on the pyre, the birds being born from the ashes, and Aurora pleading with Jupiter on behalf of her son.
5–6: iuvat: impersonal; supply mē. iacuisse: aorist (a use of the perfect to indicate that the action has occurred but making no statement about when, see AG §473). The poets often use perfect forms with this aoristic meaning as metrically convenient substitutes for the present tense. sī quandō: "if ever," i.e., sī quandō laterī meō puella bene iuncta est.
7–8: pinguēs: "lazy" or "comfortable"; predicate nominative (understand sunt). frīgidus: predicate nominative (understand est). liquidum: "clearly, melodiously."
9–10: ingrāta virīs, ingrāta puellīs: the adjective ingrāta takes dative. Aurora is criticized instead of praised, a reversal of the traditional hymn of praise to a deity. supprime: "hold back, check."
11–12: ante tuōs ortūs: "before your risings," i.e., before you rise. servat: "keeps under observation, watches." mediā ... aquā: ablative of place where (AG §421). errat: errō can mean "go astray, wander."
13–14: tē ... veniente: ablative absolute, "when you come," "as you arrive."
15–16: prīma ... vidēs: "you are the first to see." bidente > bidens, -entis m., "mattock, hoe"; ablative with onerātōs. arva colentēs: "those tilling the fields," an elegant periphrasis for agricolae. panda > pandus -a -um, "bent, crooked, curved."
17–18: fraudās: "you cheat of, deprive of" + abl. of separation (AG §400). trādisque: "and hand them over to." Whacks on the hands were the main memory adults retained of primary schooling.
19–20: eadem: feminine singular, "it is you, the same (female) who." sponsum > spondeō, spondēre, spopondī, sponsum "to make a solemn promise"; supine with verb of motion to indicate purpose (AG §509). "It is also you who send men into court to pledge themselves, that they may suffer severe losses which attach to a single word" (Barsby). †cultōs†: perhaps "men in their best clothes." The daggers (obeli) mean that the editor cannot make good sense of the manuscript reading, and is reluctant to commit himself to an emendation. Some scholars do accept cultōs, given in the manuscripts, understanding it as "well-groomed, neat in appearance." Romans often complained about having to wear the uncomfortable toga on formal occasions, such as a visit to the law courts. Others prefer the emendation incautōs: it was well-known that litigation could be ruinuous for the unwary. ātria: "the courts." The reference here is probably to the ātrium of the Temple of Vesta in the Forum, where lawsuits were typically conducted.
21–22: consultō ... disertō: these terms refer to the two kinds of lawyers in the Roman world: a iūris consultus would give advice on the substance of the law, while a rhetor (= disertus) would offer his skill in speaking. The distinction is analogous to that of the English legal system, where solicitors do the paperwork and barristers (often called "advocates") argue in court. Both nouns are dative with the adjective iūcunda.
23–24: possint: potential subjunctive in a temporal cum clause. cessāre: "be idle, rest." lānificam ... manum: "the wool-working hand," i.e., women spinning wool, a grand and poetic phrase for a humble, everyday activity. pēnsa > pensum, -ī, n. "wool" (a pile of unworked wool for spinning or weaving).
25–26: omnia perpeterer: "I would be able to bear all that"; imperfect subjunctive expressing potential in the present. surgere: objective infinitive dependent on ferat in line 26. Its subject is the accusative noun puellās: "Who would endure that girls get up?" māne: "early in the morning"; adverb. cui = alicui, dative of possession with non est, "someone for whom there is not," i.e., "who does not have."
27–28: tibi: the dawn. nē fugerent ... mōta: "that they would not move and flee," literally, "that they, having been set in motion, would not flee." vultūs ... tuōs: plural for singular; the "countenance" of Aurora is the rising sun.
29–30: frangeret: optō can take a subordinate clause with the subjunctive, without ut. axem = currum (synecdoche), as in line 2. spissā nūbe: "by a thick cloud"; abl. with retentus. retentus: from retineō, "to keep back." Either the horse as a whole is kept back (blinded?) by the cloud and therefore falls, or his foot is kept back so that he trips.
31–32: invida: supply Aurora; vocative. quod: "because." fīlius āter: Memnon, Aurora’s son, was Ethiopian. The Romans were not particularly prone to color prejudice, but they certainly made jokes about physical characteristics. fuerat: notice the tense: she had been that way before giving birth to Memnon.
33–34: lines 33–34 are not printed in the text, since they are almost universally regarded by scholars as a later interpolation. They read: quid si non cephali quondam flagrasset amore / an putat ignotam nequitiam esse suam.
35–36: Tīthōnō vellem ... licēret = vellem ut Tīthōnō licēret. For the omission of ut from a substantive clause of purpose with volō, see AG §565. Tīthōnō is dative because governed by licēret. caelō: ablative of place where. nōn ... turpior ūlla foret: the point is that if Tithonus heard about what Aurora was doing, he would spread the tale and thus ruin her reputation. foret is a regular alternative to esset (AG §170a).
37–38: grandior: understand ille, i.e. Tithonus, who was much older than his wife (see on line 1 above). aevō: ablative of degree of difference (AG §414). ad invīsās ... rotās: rotās = currum. Aurora’s chariot is hated by Tithonus (because he hates it when she leaves), or by all humankind (who hate it when she arrives). ā sene: "from the old man," or "by the old man."
39–40: sī ... tenērēs/ clāmārēs: present contrary to fact condition, "if you were holding ... you would shout." quem ... Cephalum: "some Cephalus, someone like Cephalus." For the use of indefinite quis, quid with sī nisi, nē, and num, see AG §310a. Cephalus was a handsome young man, married to Procris, with whom Aurora fell in love. manibus = bracchiīs. noctis equī: better printed Noctis equī, since the owner of the horses is the goddess Nox. Several artists have protrayed Aurora in the throes of passionate desire for the young and handsome Cephalus, who makes such a contrast with her aged husband Tithonus. Paul-Alfred de Curzon's glittering mosaic for a ceiling at the Paris Opéra from the 1860s draws on ancient iconography (the circular drapery behind Aurora to indicate she is motion, the labels in capital Greek letters), but adds a distinctly mid-nineteenth-century sensibility.
41–42: cur ego plectar: "why should I be punished?"; deliberative subjunctive. A question implying doubt or indignation can become a simple exclamation (AG §444a). vir tibi: "your husband," literally, "the husband for you." nupsistī ... senī: nūbō is the normal word for marriage by a woman (compare the difference, traditionally, between "to wed" and "to marry"); it takes a dative. conciliante > conciliō -āre, "to advise"; mē ... conciliante is ablative absolute, "with me advising," i.e., "I wasn’t the one who advised you to marry an old man!"
43–44: somnōs: "(nights of) sleep." dōnārit = dōnāverit (perfect subjunctive in an indirect question). For the contracted perfect forms, see AG §181a. dōnō is stronger than dō, and means "present, make a present of, reward someone with." Lūna = Selene, who fell in love with Endymion, while he was asleep on a hillside. She caused him to sleep forever, so that she could always admire his beauty. The poet is suggesting that Aurora, too, could reasonably change the natural order of things if she had a handsome young lover. Roman sarcophagi often depict Selene and the sleeping Endymion, as on a fine example on display at the Metroplitan Museum in New York. The symbolism in this context in clear, with Endymion standing in for the deceased, and eternal sleep for death.
45–46: ipse deum genitor: deum = syncopated form of deōrum (AG §49g). The phrase is intended to remind us of Homer’s formulaic description of Zeus. The reference in this couplet is to Jupiter’s seduction of Alcmene, the wife of Amphitryon, by assuming the features of her husband. In order to take full advantage of this trick, he ordered that the night be doubled in length. commīsit: "joined together, made continuous." in sua vōta: "to fulfill his wishes"; in + acc. expresses purpose, as at 1.6.17.
47–48: iurgia fīnieram: "I had finished my rant." scīrēs: potential subjunctive. The second person singular is probably indefinite ("one might know"); see AG §447.2 for this meaning of the second person singular subjunctive (present or imperfect) of verbs of saying, thinking, etc. audīsse = syncopated form of audīvisse or audiisse. rubēbat > rubeō, rubēre "to be or become red" and/or "to blush," as a sign of shame or modesty. There is a pun here, and the whole poem depends on it. Note also the imperfect tense. adsuētō tardius: "later than the accustomed (time)." orta: understand est.