Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Roman Holiday

They’re attractive, they’re rich, they have marvelously long and classical noses, and yet they still aren’t happy…

Yes, my friends, we are going to visit…the CRANKY ROMAN FAMILY!

(Read http://qcreport.blogspot.com/2005/09/latin-lover.html first, if you are new around here).

I am still trying to learn this language, albeit at a glacial pace. The pronunciation rule is going to kill me. Try this one for size:

“The only two syllables in a Latin word which may receive accent are the penult and the antepenult. Accent is determined by applying the law of the penult: In words of two syllables, the penult receives the accent, while in words of two syllables the penult receives the accent if it is long; if the penult is short, the accent is placed on the antepenult…

(But wait, there’s more..)

“…A syllable can be long in one of two ways:

1. Length by nature. If the syllable contains a long vowel or a diphthong, it is said to be long by nature.
2. Length by position. If the syllable contains a vowel which is followed by two consonants, it is said to be long by position. X is said to be a double consonant.”

Read this over a few times, if you like; it doesn't get any prettier. Hey, ancient Latin people, there’s something called an accent mark. You might want to look in to that.

Anyway, without further ado, here is today’s chapter of Cranky Roman Family…

Bag of Julius not small is. In sac his is plural money. Julian money in sac has.
[Yeah, I got that. He’s rich. Think Bill Gates in a toga. Next?]

Aemilia bag observes Julius ask: What numbers are in sac yours?
[Right, like she doesn’t know. Well-bred Roman women never left their houses; one long afternoon, she probably counted the stitches on that sac.]

Julius answers: Hundred.
[This may not sound like a lot, but he has no-bid development contracts in the construction of Gaul.]

Aemilia: Is not a hundred there are?

Julius money counts: One, two, three, four…nine, ten.

Number of coins not is hundred, but ten only.

Julius: What? In sac mine not hundred, but only ten coins are! Where are hundred coins? Servant mine is where?

Medus: Servant yours Medus is here.
[Sneaky servant, just standing around watching his master count up to ten without even making his presence known.]

Julius servant his Medum here, Davum not here. Medus present, Davus not present, but absent. Julius and Aemilia and Medus here, Davus the other servant absent.
[Me, student old and dim, they are repeating themselves for.]

JULIUS: What? One servant only present? [Did you miss the previous three sentences, Julius?] Where is Davum? Davum call!

Medus David call: Dave!
[Pronounced Dah-vay, like “Maria”, not Dave, like Letterman, in case you plan to act this out in your house.]
But Davus Medum neither hear nor come.

Medus repeats Davum call: Dave! Come!
Dave comes. There are two servants present.
[Even me, student old and dim, that understands]

Davus, who master does not see, Medum asks: What is, Mede?

Medus: St! [Hey, I know that one!] Master here. Salute master!

Servant master salute: Health, master!

Master servant salute: Health, servant!

Davus: What is, master?

Julius: St! [Just wait until the first ancient Roman says something insulting to me. I’m going to say “St!” back at him, and won’t he be surprised.]
Quiet, servant! Quiet and listen!

Servant quiet.

Julius: In sac mine are ten only coins. Where are hundred coins mine? [Julius, don’t mean to cavil, but you are missing ninety. Not centum. Did you get those no-bid development contracts in Gaul through your father-in-law?]

Davus silent, nor responding.
[Probably thinking of a way to bring up the whole ninety/one hundred thing without being fired. Or killed. Or sent to convince the Celts to take off the blue paint and put on some togas.]

Aemilia: Answer, Dave! Master you ask.
[She’s probably grateful that Julius isn’t asking her why she needed the expensive hiking sandals when she isn’t allowed to leave the house.]

Davus answers: Money yours here not is. Ask Medum!

Julius Medum asks: Where are coins mine, Mede? Medus none words answer.

Julius repeats his question: Where is my money? Answer, servant!

[Has it never occurred to Julius that a toga, while a fine and versatile garment, certainly useful when you have a runny nose, isn’t known for its secure qualities? His ninety coins might have fallen out when he was walking the shady streets near the Coliseum, or while socially vomiting with friends. Perhaps he was pick-pocketed (pick-sacked?) while negotiating with a harlot. Hey, Rome is a big city. Anything can happen. ]

Medus Davum accuses: Money yours in sac Dave is. Davus money yours have.

Aemilia: Listen, Dave! Medus you accuse!

[She’s enjoying this way too much. The great tragedy of this woman’s life is that she will die two thousand years before Ricki Lake goes on the air.]

Davus: Why Medus accuse I?

Julius: Silence, Mede! Servants who servants accuse improper are!

Medus silent.

[Improper servants, he has heard, are frequently sold cheap to the Visigoths for unspeakable purposes.]

Julius Davum not accuses, but asks him: Is not money mine in sac yours, Dave?

Davus: In sac mine not is money yours, Master.

Julius: Where is sac yours?

(I want credit for the cheap joke I have not written here.)

Davus: This is. Here is sac mine.

Julius: Sac yours on table put!

Davus sac his on table put. Now sac his on table is. Julius cane is on table put. Cane of master on table is.

[I see. It’s a threat. It’s a Roman threat. Give me my one hundred coins (which are actually ninety), or I shall beat you with this cane, and then sell you to the Visigoths, who travel and maraud with a wide selection of women’s Visigoth dresses in large sizes and haven’t seen real Visigoth women in many years.]

Davus: Observe: in sac mine no money is.

Julius no money sees in sac. In sac Davi no money has. Sac empty is. [Getting that, thanks.] Davus money master not have.

Julius: O! Davus good servant is: money mine not have. Here is money you, Dave!

Julius one coin put in sac Dave [Julius, you spendthrift.] Now sac Dave not is empty: in sac have is one coin. Dave happy is. [Clearly, Dave has kind of a Stockholm Syndrome thing going with Julius.]

Julius: Take sac yours and leave, good servant!

Davus takes his sac and leaves.

[Dave, please. Find an excuse, go out of the house, buy a cup of stewed eels with your one coin and stop to consider whether being a Roman slave is enough anymore. You’re better than this.]

Medus cane, which on table is, sees. Medus then leaves! Why leaves Medus? Medus leaves because that money Master in bag he has!

[Da DUM.]

Well! Medus! I never!

Actually, I suspected, but I have an advantage over you; I have seen the pictures of Cranky Roman Family and four of their centum servants. Davus is smiling and bald. Medus is hulking, his fists clenched upon his powerful thighs; this is a man who should never have been bought as a house servant, as he looks strong, angry and shifty to the degree these things can be determined from a one-inch sketch. In case you’re curious, Davus appears to have self-esteem issues, Delia is pensive and Syra is angry and frustrated with how her life turned out.

But now I place a coin in your empty sac, and you all know that means it is time for you to leave.


Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

There is a Latin for Dummies. My kids use Prima Latina and it makes a lot more sense than those confusing rules in the post. Sadly, it lacks a Cranky Roman Family with QC commentary.

4:40 AM  

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