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Incitat me.

(Yeah, I know I haven’t posted here in a while — I’ve been working on a large blog post and have been neglecting the smaller ones.)

Horace, Epode 8:

sēd īncĭtāt | mē pēctŭs ēt | māmmǣ pŭtrēs
   Ä•quÄ«nă quā|lÄ“s Å«bÄ•ră
vēntērquĕ mōl|lĭs ēt fĕmūr | tŭmēntĭbūs
   Ä“xÄ«lÄ• sÅ«|rÄ«s āddÄ­tÅ«m.

But your chest excites me, your sagging breasts —
   like a horse’s udder.
Likewise your soft stomach and skinny thighs —
   atop your swollen calves.

Horace’s eighth epode is a vicious attack against a woman who wonders why there’s no sexual chemistry between herself and the narrator. His response boils down to: you’re ugly, you’re pretentious; if you want results, you should stick to oral (ore allaborandum est tibi). Accordingly quite a few of the editions of Horace I ran across on Google Books omit the epode entirely, passing without comment from 7 to 9. But the Internet will find you a few translations.

Anyway, it’s a very unflattering picture he paints of her, but talking of her body he still writes incitat me “it arouses me”. It’s clear this is not actually the case; but he might either be being outright sarcastic or just meaning that even if she may have some saving qualities, there’s more than enough negative there to offset that. In my translation here I leaned towards the latter because it seemed to flow better, though I’m sure the former might be more likely.

So, would tumentes surae be what we’d call “cankles” today?

[For venter.]

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