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The second manuscript will be written in Latin, focusing on a lyric poem from Horace’s Odes. This particular piece (III.xxx) describes the author’s poetry as being more solid and lasting than a physical monument, a great claim for the citizen of a nation known for its architectural marvels. In this way, it emphasizes the monumental, essentially three-dimensional, quality of the written word. This page will be illuminated with what is most commonly called the high medieval style, with the incorporation of ancient Roman art forms for emphasis: in particular, the Second—or Architectural—Pompeiian style of painting, which relies strongly on illusionistic architectural forms, will be useful to this end. The high medieval style is characterized by lavish, unmixed jewel-tone paints which earned that name from being made of powdered gems such as azurite, malachite, and most precious of all, lapis lazuli. Gold leaf was also used liberally for accents. The poem itself will likely be written using the Early Gothic bookhand, popular from the 11th to the 12th centuries, and possibly employing Roman Square Capitals for stress. The poem may be supplemented with interlinear translations in English; glosses, complementary quotations from other authors, and colophons expressing my own thoughts could be placed in the margins; and portions of the texts could even be treated as an antiphonal, providing musical notes as a visual reminder of the lyric poem’s truly rhapsodic elements.
Exegi monumentum aere perennius
Regalique situ pyramidum altius,
Quod non imber edax, non Aquilo impotens
Possit diruere aut innumerabilis
Annorum series et fuga temporum.
Non omnis moriar, multaque pars mei
Vitabit Libitinam: usque ego postera
Crescam laude recens, dum Capitolium
Scandet cum tacita virgine pontifex.
Dicar, qua violens obstrepit Aufidus
Et qua pauper aquae Daunus agrestium
Regnavit populorum, ex humili potens
Princeps Aeolium carmen ad Italos
Deduxisse modos. Sume superbiam
Quaesitam meritis et mihi Delphica
Lauro cinge volens, Melpomene, comam.
A monument, more durable than brass
And higher than the pyramids that stand
Laid out for kings, I’ve built with pen in hand,
Which neither greedy rain nor frantic thrash
Of wind can overthrow, nor flights of years
Unnumbered, nor the seasons’ gyring gears.
I shall not wholly die, but cheat the lash
Of Death in greater part: for future tongues
Shall cultivate my praise, as long as vestal
Maid and priest ascend the Capitol
In silence. I’ll be heard, my praises sung,
Both where the rapid Aufid river roars,
And where king Daunus, from his sapless shores,
Once ruled a rustic tribe: though I am sprung
From Apulian clay, yet I command
Great power in my prime: I was the first
To bend to Roman measure Grecian verse.
With conscious pride and honor, take upon
Yourself, Melpomene, the glory thine
That I have earned, and graciously entwine
My brow with verdant Delphi’s laurel strands.
Verse translation ©2000 Julie C. Sparks.