Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cornelius Nepos, Outstanding Military Leaders of Other Nations (Praefatio)


Cornelius Nepos
100-24 BCE
Trans RMBullard
Latin (Republican Era/Golden Age of Latin Literature)


1 Non dubito fore plerosque, Attice, qui hoc genus scripturae leve et non satis dignum summorum virorum personis iudicent, cum relatum legent, quis musicam docuerit Epaminondam, aut in eius virtutibus commemorari saltasse eum commode scienterque tibiis cantasse.

[I do not doubt, Atticus, that many people will conclude that this sort of genre is irrelevant and not worthy for top men's tastes, even though when they should read a narration, there is somebody who ends up learning the music played by Epaminondas or recalls, thanks to this man's good qualities, how astonishingly he danced and how wisely he sang in accompaniment to the pipes.]

2 Sed hi erunt fere, qui expertes litterarum Graecarum nihil rectum, nisi quod ipsorum moribus conveniat, putabunt.
[But there will always be those men, despite being experts of Greek literature, who think nothing proper unless it agrees with their own way of living and thinking.]

3 Hi si didicerint non eadem omnibus esse honesta atque turpia, sed omnia maiorum institutis iudicari, non admirabuntur nos in Graiorum virtutibus exponendis mores eorum secutos.
[These men have not only taught us all that honesty and shame are not the same concepts, but the everything should be judged according to the precedents of our forefathers, and that they would not appreciate any efforts on our part to show how the virtues of the Greeks could help any societies that followed them.]

Neque enim Cimoni fuit turpe, Atheniensium summo viro, sororem germanam habere in matrimonio, quippe cum cives eius eodem uterentur instituto.
[You see, the crime did not belong to Cimon, the greatest man of Athens, for having a twin sister in marriage, actually, when its own citizens practiced the very same custom.]

At id quidem nostris moribus nefas habetur.
[But really, this is esteemed to be a crime against our customs.]

 Laudi in Creta ducitur adulescentulis quam plurimos habuisse amatores.
[On Crete, nothing is more praiseworthy for the youngsters than to have had the most lovers.]

 Nulla Lacedaemoni vidua tam est nobilis, quae non ad cenam eat mercede conducta.
[There is no widow in Sparta more noble than the one does not attend dinner once she has been bought for a price.]

 5 Magnis in laudibus tota fere fuit Graecia victorem Olympiae citari;
[Almost all of Greece was there celebrate the victor of Olympia with great praises;]

 in scaenam vero prodire ac populo esse spectaculo nemini in eisdem gentibus fuit turpitudini.
[For these same people, it was consider a disgrace to go forth on stage and for there to be no people there to attend the spectacle.]

 Quae omnia apud nos partim infamia, partim humilia atque ab honestate remota ponuntur.
[Everything that is considered somewhat taboo in our country are also considered lowly and displaced from sense of decency.]

6 Contra ea pleraque nostris moribus sunt decora,
[Opposed to things like these are the very many honors we derive from our customs,]

quae apud illos turpia putantur.
[which are thought to be shameful in nations like those.]

 Quem enim Romanorum pudet uxorem ducere in convivium?
[So whom specifically of the Romans is ashamed to take his wife to a dinner party?]

Aut cuius non mater familias primum locum tenet aedium atque in celebritate versatur? 7
[Of whose family matron does not hold the best seat in their house, and also enjoy fame?]

Quod multo fit aliter in Graecia.
[This is very much not the case in Greece.]

 Nam neque in convivium adhibetur nisi propinquorum,
[you see, she wouldn't be allowed at a dinner party, unless she was a member of the immediate family,]

 neque sedet nisi in interiore parte aedium, quae gynaeconitis appellatur;
[and she can't sit anywhere except inside the house in the part called the "women's quarters" <gyneconitis>"]

 quo nemo accedit nisi propinqua cognatione coniunctus.
[Nobody can come inside here unless he is related to her by family ties.]

8 Sed hic plura persequi
[but here I describe much more,]

cum magnitudo voluminis prohibet tum festinatio, ut ea explicem, quae exorsus sum.
[since the size of my scroll does not allow anything other than to rush, so let me explain the things that I have given a beginning to.]

 Quare ad propositum veniemus et in hoc exponemus libro de vita excellentium imperatorum.
[Wherefore shall I come to the subject, and shall I expound in this scroll the lives of our glorious emperors.]