A Roman Cat

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.



The Thought

“Dē mensā descende!” mihi acclamat mea serva.

At quā rē posuit serva cibos mea ibī?


The Meaning

“Get down from the table!” my servant girl yells at me.

But why did my servant girl put food there?


The Form

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


The Scansion

“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 Recitation


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.

13+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

35 thoughts on “A Roman Cat”

  1. Congratulations! My husband and I were living in SoCal and our neighbor’s beautiful blonde female tabby started visiting daily. All of a sudden we were buying her food and setting out water bowls. Then we let her into the house and taught her how to use a kitty litter box.

    The next door neighbor finally complained but at that point I knew he’d made a fatal mistake- he’d bought a monstrous sized Great Dane and all cat owners know that felines despise change of any kind. I must say our cat had good taste- large quiet home with two childless adults who lavished attention upon her even though we both had extreme allergies initially! (They went away after a few months.)

    Years later, we had to relocate to NYC so we needed to have a discussion about custody rights with our neighbors. They were fine with the unofficial “adoption” and wished us luck.

    Our tabby lived a cosmopolitan life- NYC loft with floor to ceiling windows (that she loved) and her private and protected lanai in Florida where she could attack those annoying salamanders that run everywhere. As I don’t believe in letting a cat run loose outdoors, we leash-trained her so she had the best of both worlds.

    We finally had to euthanize her at age 18 because of complications due to diabetes that we had battled successfully for six years. I felt slightly comforted that our vet recommended this even though we had probably paid for a lot of his children’s college tuition bills.

    Enjoy as we did! Cats are so quirky and unpredictable and are truly one of nature’s wonders. 🙂

    5+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  2. Rick Poach:

    Pseudodionysius:
    I can’t hear you.

    Ah, so you’ve had cats.

    Isn’t that the truth? I won’t lie- we had issues- particularly with the demolition of expensive furniture. No scratch posts were accepted and I fully believe my little girl had a cat’s sense that neither of her owners wanted those ugly things in their home to begin with. 🙂

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  3. I have never had a cat but I have observed the way their owners interact with them. It is completely different than with a dog. That would be a great post if someone with dogs and cats explained how they respond to both. How do cats and dogs nuzzle their way into a person’s heart.

    Off topic.

    When is Pseud going to go dog avatar? Many people already think of him as dirty dog so it would be good to have an image closely related to his persona. Haakon could have a doghouse. 😉

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  4. 10 Cents:
    I have never had a cat but I have observed the way their owners interact with them. It is completely different than with a dog.

    That is so true because I have had both. If you set up this post I’d love to contribute.

    10 Cents:
    Haakon could have a doghouse.

    Like! 🙂

    0

  5. EThompson:

    10 Cents:
    I have never had a cat but I have observed the way their owners interact with them. It is completely different than with a dog.

    That is so true because I have had both. If you set up this post I’d love to contribute.

    10 Cents:
    Haakon could have a doghouse.

    Like! 🙂

    I haven’t had both so I can’t write the post. Maybe as a prize the writer could receive an autographed litter box from Pseud.

    0

  6. Cat pictures are like catnip to some people. They immediately soften and want to stroke the screen and talk in a chirpy voice. “You’re so pretty, Sky. Here is my credit card number and PIN. More cream, cutie?”

    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
  7. 10 Cents:
    Cat pictures are like catnip to some people. They immediately soften and want to stroke the screen and talk in a chirpy voice. “You’re so pretty, Sky. Here is my credit card number and PIN. More cream, cutie?”

    So, the plan was that transparent?

    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
  8. Rick Poach:

    10 Cents:
    Cat pictures are like catnip to some people. They immediately soften and want to stroke the screen and talk in a chirpy voice. “You’re so pretty, Sky. Here is my credit card number and PIN. More cream, cutie?”

    So, the plan was that transparent?

    Where do I send the money? [In a deeply hypnotized voice.]

    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
  9. That’s neat. About 5 or 6 years ago, when I lived in Utah, a feral mother cat adopted us with her kittens, one of which was colored the same as Ringo (Sky) except more white and less black. We called him Sailor and he was the alpha male of the litter, mean and aggressive. The only time he was under someone’s control was when I trapped him to take him to the vet to stop reproduction. So he would spend time hunting small creatures and wound up in a trap a neighbor had set for cougars she was fearful of, and he lost one foreleg, just like your cat.

    He still hangs at my daughter’s house along with his mother and siblings, and I expect we’ll see him soon when we visit Utah. I think his bullying reduced some after his loss of limb but as of the last time I saw him he still would not let me get close. The mother, otoh, treats me like her true benefactor and sits on my lap, but she does not come into the house.

    5+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  10. Bob Thompson:
    That’s neat. About 5 or 6 years ago, when I lived in Utah, a feral mother cat adopted us with her kittens, one of which was colored the same as Ringo (Sky) except more white and less black. We called him Sailor and he was the alpha male of the litter, mean and aggressive. The only time he was under someone’s control was when I trapped him to take him to the vet to stop reproduction. So he would spend time hunting small creatures and wound up in a trap a neighbor had set for cougars she was fearful of, and he lost one foreleg, just like your cat.

    He still hangs at my daughter’s house along with his mother and siblings, and I expect we’ll see him soon when we visit Utah. I think his bullying reduced some after his loss of limb but as of the last time I saw him he still would not let me get close. The mother, otoh, treats me like her true benefactor and sits on my lap, but she does not come into the house.

    Does your daughter have a fair size yard, Bob? Take some pictures when you visit Utah. Not of Mittens but of a big kitten, please.

    0

  11. 10 Cents:

    Bob Thompson:
    That’s neat. About 5 or 6 years ago, when I lived in Utah, a feral mother cat adopted us with her kittens, one of which was colored the same as Ringo (Sky) except more white and less black. We called him Sailor and he was the alpha male of the litter, mean and aggressive. The only time he was under someone’s control was when I trapped him to take him to the vet to stop reproduction. So he would spend time hunting small creatures and wound up in a trap a neighbor had set for cougars she was fearful of, and he lost one foreleg, just like your cat.

    He still hangs at my daughter’s house along with his mother and siblings, and I expect we’ll see him soon when we visit Utah. I think his bullying reduced some after his loss of limb but as of the last time I saw him he still would not let me get close. The mother, otoh, treats me like her true benefactor and sits on my lap, but she does not come into the house.

    Does your daughter have a fair size yard, Bob? Take some pictures when you visit Utah. Not of Mittens but of a big kitten, please.

    She has 2 acres. We had 4.5 acres next door to my daughter that we sold last year so the cats’ home territory has been significantly reduced. I’ll get some pictures when we are there.

    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
  12. Bob Thompson:

    10 Cents:

    Bob Thompson:
    That’s neat. About 5 or 6 years ago, when I lived in Utah, a feral mother cat adopted us with her kittens, one of which was colored the same as Ringo (Sky) except more white and less black. We called him Sailor and he was the alpha male of the litter, mean and aggressive. The only time he was under someone’s control was when I trapped him to take him to the vet to stop reproduction. So he would spend time hunting small creatures and wound up in a trap a neighbor had set for cougars she was fearful of, and he lost one foreleg, just like your cat.

    He still hangs at my daughter’s house along with his mother and siblings, and I expect we’ll see him soon when we visit Utah. I think his bullying reduced some after his loss of limb but as of the last time I saw him he still would not let me get close. The mother, otoh, treats me like her true benefactor and sits on my lap, but she does not come into the house.

    Does your daughter have a fair size yard, Bob? Take some pictures when you visit Utah. Not of Mittens but of a big kitten, please.

    She has 2 acres. We had 4.5 acres next door to my daughter that we sold last year so the cats’ home territory has been significantly reduced. I’ll get some pictures when we are there.

    I meant pictures of the cat not selfies. (No one had to make this clear a few years ago.)

    0

  13. 10 Cents:

    Bob Thompson:

    10 Cents:

    Bob Thompson:
    That’s neat. About 5 or 6 years ago, when I lived in Utah, a feral mother cat adopted us with her kittens, one of which was colored the same as Ringo (Sky) except more white and less black. We called him Sailor and he was the alpha male of the litter, mean and aggressive. The only time he was under someone’s control was when I trapped him to take him to the vet to stop reproduction. So he would spend time hunting small creatures and wound up in a trap a neighbor had set for cougars she was fearful of, and he lost one foreleg, just like your cat.

    He still hangs at my daughter’s house along with his mother and siblings, and I expect we’ll see him soon when we visit Utah. I think his bullying reduced some after his loss of limb but as of the last time I saw him he still would not let me get close. The mother, otoh, treats me like her true benefactor and sits on my lap, but she does not come into the house.

    Does your daughter have a fair size yard, Bob? Take some pictures when you visit Utah. Not of Mittens but of a big kitten, please.

    She has 2 acres. We had 4.5 acres next door to my daughter that we sold last year so the cats’ home territory has been significantly reduced. I’ll get some pictures when we are there.

    I meant pictures of the cat not selfies. (No one had to make this clear a few years ago.)

    I got what you meant, I don’t do selfies.

    0

  14. People who know cats have advised us that it is a bad idea to name a cat with a name that has “s.”

    The cat interprets the “s” sound as a hiss, which is a bad sound in cat.

    Which is why “sssscoot” is the way to get the cat to leave when she is where she does not belong.   Or, “hisssss” when she behaves badly.

    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
  15. MJBubba:
    Or, “hisssss” when she behaves badly.

    What an optimist! If I’d hissed at my prima donna, there would have been blood spilled- mine.

    All cat owners need to be frank with one another – We are not in charge.  🙂

    3+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  16. 10 Cents:
    My condolences on the passing of Bastet, Rick. Was it sudden or expected?

    Thanks, Dime. It was expected. In fact, we had made the appointment with the vet to put him down, but he passed before we could take him.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  17. Rick Poach:
    In fact, we had made the appointment with the vet to put him down, but he passed before we could take him.

    Sounds strange, but I envy you. I had to waken my vet at 3:00 a.m. to euthanize my girl because she was in so much pain. I allowed this to happen because I couldn’t bear the thought of killing her when the time was right.

    I was selfish.

    5+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  18. EThompson:

    Rick Poach:
    In fact, we had made the appointment with the vet to put him down, but he passed before we could take him.

    Sounds strange, but I envy you. I had to waken my vet at 3:00 a.m. to euthanize my girl because she was in so much pain. I allowed this to happen because I couldn’t bear the thought of killing her when the time was right.

    I was selfish.

    It’s hard to know when is right. I wish that I had acted sooner too.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar

Leave a Reply