RAMINAGROBIS.

The excellent Conrad has alerted me to the blogovial existence of Raminagrobis, a comparably learned and literate personage who began with a promise “to vent my rampaging egomania, register my disgust and rage at all those things that don’t really matter to anyone, exercise my critical faculties, and fulfil a long-standing ambition to be a boorish old fool with too much time on his hands,” but in fact writes about all manner of interesting things, most recently the Fagles Aeneid, jumping off from a dislike of the way Fagles rendered the famous line sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt and comparing many other versions before settling on that of my own favorite Robert Fitzgerald as the most satisfactory. The name, incidentally, is from Rabelais; the motto/URL “When her name you write, you blot” is from the Urquhart translation, but as far as I can tell nothing in the original corresponds to that particular line. Odd.

Comments

  1. blogovial?

  2. Not that odd. Urquhart’s text is about 40% bigger than Rabelais’s with his own absurdist additions. That’s one of its merits!

  3. “to vent my rampaging egomania, register my disgust and rage at all those things that don’t really matter to anyone, exercise my critical faculties, and fulfil a long-standing ambition to be a boorish old fool with too much time on his hands,”
    That sounds strikingly similar to a possible description of Kenkō’s “Tsuzuregusa” (Essays in Idleness), a classic of pre-modern Japanese literature that I am currently in the middle of. Oddly, while reading it, I had the thought that Kenkō, had he lived now, most likely would have had a blog . . .

  4. Fitzgerald? Nah. You want the version that begins like this:
    My fateful tale concerns a man of war,
    And what the vengeful Juno had in store
    To try our hero, exiled first from Troy,
    On sea and land before he could enjoy
    The spoils of arduous battle, make his home
    In Italy, and found high-towered Rome.
    All this he did, and gave his gods a shrine
    On Latin ground; the noble Alban line
    Grew strong. But long before he came to beach
    At that Lavinian shore he strove to reach,
    There’s much, O Muse, that we two have to tell
    Of crimes and calumnies, and how it fell
    That such a man was hounded on his ways:
    How heaven’s wrath a mortal heart betrays!
    There stood a town across from Italy
    Right opposite where Tiber fronts the sea;
    Carthage, wealthy colony of Tyre,
    Power of arms its people’s fierce desire.
    Now, Juno loved this place above the rest,
    Even Samos. Carthage she loved best.
    She kept her weapons and her chariots there;
    In time, and if the Fates allowed, she’d dare
    Extend the city’s empire far and wide.
    But rumour murmured, people prophesied -
    Trojan blood would rise again to fight
    And put her haughty Tyrians all to flight.
    This doom the Parcae fashioned on their loom:
    A conquering force all Libya would consume.
    Fearing this, and mindful how she’d laid
    Long siege to Troy, and came to Greece’s aid
    In its campaign, also she recalled
    The insult dealt her pride when (how it galled
    To think it!) mortal Paris judged, and gave
    The prize to Venus – brazen Trojan knave!
    Another, too: Jove’s favourite Ganymede
    He raised to heavenly service, paid no heed
    To her, his sister-wife! And so she flung
    The Trojans (those Achilles spared) among
    The tempests, kept them from their promised land,
    Their destined home on Latium’s distant strand.
    So Saturn’s daughter journey’s end delayed:
    Such years of toil till mighty Rome was made!

  5. Raminagrobis is also a character in La Fontaine’s Fables, and it’s a cat: « Un chat faisant la chattemite, un saint homme de chat, bien fourré, gros et gras, arbitre expert sur tous les cas. »
    A few French public figures have been dubbed “Raminagrobis” ( for instance politician Philippe Séguin & Le Monde’s director Jean-Marie Colombani). It wasn’t meant to be a flattery…

  6. Interesting, I have La Fontaine on my shelf but never got around to reading him. It sounds like F is conflating Raminagrobis with the ‘chats-fourrez’ of Book 5, Ch. 14.

  7. “…And Priam, see? It moved them even here!
    All things – even walls – might shed a tear:
    Affairs of mortals mortal hearts affect.
    Courage, though! We Trojans, now abject,
    Will strive once more and see our fortunes rise!”
    So he spoke, and through his weeping eyes
    Devoured the empty pictures’ dismal fare:
    Greeks in flight as brazen Trojans dare,
    Then Troy’s retreat as Greek troops re-engage –
    Spirits pricked by bold Achilles’ rage.

  8. Not that odd.
    True; I was forgetting Urquhart’s penchant for supplementing the original with his own fustifications!
    mj: Well, “bloggish” is a bit undignified, isn’t it?

  9. My edition of the Tiers livre tells me that Raminagrobis was a cat before La Fontaine, and even before Rabelais. I don’t know on what basis they make the second part of that claim, though. Littré has an entry on Raminagrobis, but for the ‘cat’ sense he only cites authors after Rabelais, the earliest being Voiture. But the original sense, it seems to me is the one related to gros-bis.
    La Fontaine deserves to be read by all, though: he’s marvellously cynical (and funny with it).
    Cotgrave in his Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (1611) has this entry:
    Raminagrobis: m. A counterfeit, or counterfeiter of gravitie; a severe outside of a sleight inside; one that would hide a most vaine and idle heart in an outward austere habit.
    Which sounds about right.
    Thanks for the link, by the way.

  10. Forget translations, just learn Latin and read it in the original. It’s worth the effort. Except maybe for book 7.

  11. i have examined dozens of versions of Vergil, & the one i enjoy reading most as a poem is C. P. Cranch’s. long out of print, it appears that a new edition will be appearing in 2007.
    his merits are simple: he understands the Latin, he lived in an age in which blank verse was a valid medium, & he has the ear of a real poet.
    m.

  12. I’d have said blogular, like a word-internal spoonerisation of globular.

  13. Or better:
    “…And Priam, see? It moves them even here.
    The whole world sees, and can’t hold back a tear:
    Affairs of mortals mortal hearts affect.
    Courage, then! We Trojans, now abject,
    Will strive once more, and see our fortunes rise!”
    So he spoke, and through his streaming eyes
    Devoured the empty pictures’ dismal fare:
    Greeks in flight as brazen Trojans dare,
    Then Troy’s retreat as Greek troops re-engage –
    Spirits pricked by bold Achilles’ rage.

  14. Noetica, pardon my ignorance, what version is that?

  15. Bathrobe, you may be the one to name it, if you like. I made it myself. So excuse its roughness and incompleteness.

  16. Raminagrobis, the links you provided don’t seem to be working. What is “gros-bis”, if I may ask?
    A ‘Raminagrobis’ is a bonne pâte feigning sternness and severity? Though it wouldn’t apply to me (I think), I like it too!
    It’s true that if one loves Rabelais, he has some good chance of liking La Fontaine. A bon chat bon rat.

  17. Siganus, Littré says ‘gros-bis’ comes from ‘grosse farine bise, dit métaphoriquement pour un important’; ‘homme qui fait le gros dos, l’important.’

  18. Siganus Sutor says:

    Ah, okay. Thanks.
    So it’s somewhat like today’s pain bis, i.e. brown bread. Someone who cannot be Candide* indeed.
     
    * white

  19. Noetica, you had me convinced that you were quoting some master translator of classical epics! Your virtosity amazes me!

  20. Bathrobe:
    I love you.

  21. marie-lucie says:

    “Raminagrobis”: it seems to me that the character described by La Fontaine under this name is not a sweetie with a gruff exterior but on the contrary, a hypocrite hiding his deceptiveness under a “bonne pâte” exterior – he is fat and slow-moving, therefore harmless in appearance – in the fable, the unsuspecting mice go to him for advice and instead he suddenly jumps on them and eats them. This fits in with the Littré definition, and in Rabelais too (see link above) the “jolly old poet” is also a fraud as the answer he gives to Panurge’s dilemma is not helpful at all. Where the name comes from I would not even try to guess.

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