Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Aeneid: Trash Talking

Trash talking, it turns out, is at least as old as the Aeneid (next time I read the Iliad, I'll have to keep an eye out for it). Here's one Numanus, "flaunting his own power to high heaven":

"But you, with your saffron braided dress, your flashy purple,
you live for lazing, lost in your dancing, your delight,
blowzy sleeves on your war-shirts, ribbons on bonnets.
Phrygian women—that's what you are—not Phrygian men!
Go traipsing over the ridge of Dindyma, catch the songs
on the double pipe you dote on so! The tambourines
they're calling for you now, and the boxwood flutes
of your Berencynthian mother perched on Ida!
Leave the fighting to men! Lay down your swords!"

(Book IX)

As Fagles's note says: "In Latin poetry, Phrygian often stands derogatorily for oriental, and thus for effeminate."

It's worth noting that Numanus is promptly shot down by Ascanius with an arrow through his head!

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