Peripatetic Conjectures

I try to walk an hour a day, and find that memorizing verse is an excellent way to pass the time: usually Latin verse, most often Horace or Catullus. I can’t keep more than a dozen or so texts in memory at one time, but they’re much easier to relearn than to learn the first time. At one time or another I’ve memorized most of Catullus 1-60, all of Horace’s Epodes and Book I of the Odes, half of Book II, and more than half of Book III, and about a third of Book I of the Epistles.

I get a lot of ideas reading and rereading verse very slowly, some of which I have published here. Are these good ideas? Not always.

One of the most interesting things about memorizing verse is seeing which lines are hard to remember right. Perhaps I should say hard to remember in the transmitted form, since I suspect that many of the passages that are most difficult to remember are in fact corrupt. For some, it is very hard to tell. For instance, the received text of Epodes 2.4 is solutus omni faenore. I tend to remember it as omni solutus faenore. Separating the adjective from the noun and putting the emphatic omni up front does seem Horatian, but I hesitate to emend the text, not wishing to asssume that even Horace went for the maximum level of Horatianity at all times. A similar case is Epodes 4.14, et Appiam mannis terit, which I tend to remember as mannis et Appiam terit, postponing the conjunction and emphasizing the luxury possession. Can my Stilgefühl can be trusted in these cases? It is certainly defective in other instances. I always remember Odes 3.9.4, Persarum vigui rege beatior, with rigui for vigui: that is no doubt partly a sign of a dirty mind, partly anticipation of the consonants in the next word. Worse, I always remember Odes 2.14.17, visendus ater flumine languido, with lumine flanguido as the last two words, or rather I always recite to myself “visendus ater lumine flang — wait, that’s not right, flumine languido”.

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