After the recent passing of Bastet my ancient cat of 18 years, my wife and I noticed that the house was really empty. So, she started searching the cat adoption boards.
She asked if I had any preferences. I told her to choose a sad cat that nobody else wants.
She found a Black & White American Short Hair (Tuxedo) – a feral who was rescued when it was found with its front right leg crushed (eventually fully amputated), and who can be aggressive when overstimulated. I’ve had a cat who also had the overstimulation issue, so it wasn’t a big deal to me.
On this past Saturday, we adopted him.
The place that rescued him named him Ringo. That’s a fine name, but then I remembered someone from Roman history – C. (Gaius) Mucius Scaevola.
In the early days of Rome, they were at war with the Etruscans. Gaius Mucius, a young soldier, went to the elders and pitched a plan: send him in at night to infiltrate the Etruscan camps and assassinate their king. The elders approved. However, Gaius Mucius failed in his attempt and was captured. Brought before the king to stand trial, Gaius Mucius told the king that Rome had 300 other assassins waiting to step up and finish the job. He then placed his right hand into a nearby flame, and as his hand was burning swore that Rome did not fear him and would defeat him.
The Etruscan king sent Gaius Mucius back to Rome alive, and then sued for peace.
The Romans made Gaius Mucius a hero and gave him the nickname Scaevola (the left-handed).
And so, as Ringo settles in (he already has), he will notice that his human servants will start calling him “Sky” rather than “Ringo.”
Sky, or more formally C. (Cattus) Mucius Scaevola.
There is a Latin group here on Ratburger, S.P.Q.Ratburger. It has a lot of traffic from people here who want to learn Latin or discuss things about it. But, as Dime has found, there’s so much traffic that specific topics can get lost in the shuffle. So Dime, wisely, has started posting separate topics about Latin. And I will do the same.
Now that I have my cat Sky, I thought it would be fun to give Sky a Latin language page on Twitter and post a weekly* “Cat Thought” in Latin. (*Weekly = I’ll try for weekly, but really when I get to it).
And I have Sky’s first Cogitatum Catti (Cat Thought), and that thought is in the form of Latin verse.
One of the most famous Roman poets was Martial. Imagine if Henny Youngman was a poet and spoke Latin. Martial was famous for his comic (often insulting) two-line verses. A lot of them translate well to today’s humor – they’re actually funny.
Martial’s two line form was known as the Elegiac Couplet. I won’t go into too much detail as it’s kind of advanced Latin. If you’re interested in more info, then Google is your friend.
The poem, an original by me, is presented here, then the mark up for scansion (poetic analysis of meter), and then the translation.
“Dē mensā descende!” mihi acclamat mea serva.
At quā rē posuit serva cibos mea ibī?
“Get down from the table!” my servant girl yells at me.
But why did my servant girl put food there?
ˉ = Full beat
˘ = Half beat
° = Either a full or half beat may be used
ˉ ˘ ˘ = D = Dactyl (a metrical foot)
ˉ ˉ = S = Spondee (a metrical foot)
ˉ ˘ = T = Trochee (a metrical foot)
/ = Separator between metrical feet
|| = A hiatus – a pronounced pause
X = Either a dactyl or spondee may be used
Y = Either a spondee or a trochee may be used
Form = Elegiac Couplet
X / X / X / X / D / Y
X / X / ° || D / D / ˉ
“Dē mēn/sā dēs/cēndĕ!” mĭ/hi*-ācclā/māt mĕă / sērvå.
( ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˉ )
Āt quā / rē pŏsŭ/īt || sērvă cĭ/bōs mĕa-ĭb/ī?
( ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ || ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ )
* A note on scansion: if a word ends in a vowel, am, em, or um, AND the next word begins with a vowel (or an h), then the ending vowel (or am, em, um) of the first word is dropped completely (beat value and all) and the two words are joined. This is known as elision.
The Vocabulary and Grammar
Dē = preposition, indeclinable, modifies mensā, meaning = down from.
mensā = mensa (mensa, -ae), noun, 1st declension, singular, feminine, ablative, meaning = table.
descende = descendo (descendo, -endere, -endi, -ensum), verb, 3rd conjugation, 3rd person, singular, present, imperative, meaning = get down.
mihi = ego (ego …), pronoun, irregular, 1st person, singular, dative, meaning = to me.
acclamat = acclamo (acclamo, -āre, -āvi, -atum), verb, 1st conjugation, 3rd person, singular, present, active, indicative, meaning = she (serva) yells.
mea = meus (meus -a -um), adjective, 1st & 2nd declension, singular, feminine, nominative, modifies serva, meaning = my.
serva = serva (serva -ae), noun, 1st declension, singular, feminine, nominative, meaning = female servant.
At = conjunction, indeclinable, meaning = but.
quā = quī (quī, quae, quod), adjective, irregular, (1st & 2nd and 3rd declension-ish), feminine, ablative, modifies rē, meaning = (interrogatory)(by means of) what
rē = res (res, rei) noun, 5th declension, singular, feminine, ablative, meaning = (by means of) reason – 2nd part of idiom “quā rē”
quā rē = quārē = interrogative, indeclinable, meaning = why
posuit = pono (pono, ponere, posui, positum), verb, 3rd conjugation, 3rd person, singular, perfect, active, indicative, meaning = she (serva) placed.
cibos = cibus (cibus, -i), noun, 2nd declension, plural, masculine, accusative, meaning = foods (food).
ibī = adverb, indeclinable, modifies posuit, meaning = there
The cat thought of the week*.
Enjoy, or not.
BTW – the picture of Sky on the table is from this morning. He looks totally busted.