119?! of 234: Neniae, chiasmus and other non-coin things

Here’s our one complete (non-literary?) nenia from antiquity and even this one had to be reassembled across the centuries.

Rex eris, si recte facies

Qui non faciet, non eris!

You will be king, if you act rightly;

He who does not act, will not be!

Reconstructed from Horace Ep. 1.1. 59-63 and Porphyry ad Ep. 1.1.626

I promise it is more catchy in the Latin than I can make the English!

The best discussion is:

Dutsch, Dorota M.. “« Nenia »: gender, genre, and lament in ancient Rome.” In Lament: studies in the ancient Mediterranean and beyond, Edited by Suter, Ann., 258-279. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Pr., 2008.

But her concern is on the more common use of term Nenia, i.e. in its funerary context:

Abstract of her piece: Two discourses were involved in the Roman funeral. One, the official « laudatio funebris », a speech commemorating members of the upper class, was the domain of male relatives of the deceased. The other, a chant called « nenia », was entrusted to female professionals and could thus offer us a rare example of Roman women’s poetic skills, but we have no script of a genuine lament sung at a Roman funeral. Scattered evidence regarding various types of the « nenia » is assembled and examined to recover some of the rules and cultural connotations of this lost genre.
P. 270 of her chapter with corresponding end notes:

Why do I care? Well I’m including the little rhyme in my transition between chapter one and two of my current book project. The first chapter “What sort of thing is a king?” investigates literary generalities about the nature of Roman and Foreign Kings and Roman relationships to kings, again in generalities and truisms not specific examples.

(I realize as I type this it is an interesting reprisal of my work on the historiographical uses of Eastern Kings in my first book (2006), esp. in Chapter 6, p. 291 ff: I best go read myself and try to see why I can’t get these questions out of my brain).

The second chapter addresses memories of Numa in the pre Augustan, esp. pre Ciceronian corpus. The little ditty I call in to try to access a bit of popular culture on the connect of (morally) right action and kingship in the Roman mind to set up the reader (who may have skipped chapter one!) to better understand the context in which the Numa traditions were formed. The writing challenge is to decide what of the Numa tradition goes in the chapter two and what is distinctive enough to be saved for chapter three on the Ludi Apollinares and their meaning.

I’m particularly interested in how recte and rex are linguistically connected through the verb rego, rexi, rectus.

Which in turn led me to Livy 6.6 AND Chris Kraus’ fabulously spoton commentary

Chiasmus is that A:B::B:A pattern in nenia

For reasons that aren’t public yet I think my sabbatical will be cut short. Not all bad reasons and largely of my own agency; I’m shifting my professional priorities it feels. More anon, sorry to be vague but the count down has started to feel weird. I do have 119 more days in which I can primarily focus on writing but I will likely also be taking on an preparing for other work. Regardless, I want this book out soon, even if I have to borrow time here and there. I do like blogging so I will try share bits as they come up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s