aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Anonymous, CIL IV.3948

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talia te fallant utinam medacia copo: 
   tu vedes acuam, et bibes ipse merum.

If only similar swindlings would dupe
you, innkeeper! You’ll sell water and drink the unmixed wine yourself.

An elegiac couplet (with the metre slightly faulty in the second line) written on the wall of a Pompeiian bar. I’ve preserved the original spellings: medacia for mendacia; vedes for vendes, and acuam for aquam. The metre can be repaired in various ways, the easiest of which, in my opinion, is to think that bibes is an alternative spelling of bibis, making it present tense: ‘You’re drinking the wine (now) and you’ll sell us the water (later)’. (I imagine someone’s proposed this reading before, but I’ve not yet found it anywhere.)

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 24, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Posted in anonymi

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