Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Thought of the Day
Unknown (to me)
Poem of the Month
Nescio sed fiere sentio et excrucior.
Gaius Valerius Catullus (84--54 BC)
I hate and I love You may ask why I act this way
I don't know but I feel it's so and I suffer.
They teach you this poem in first year as an illustration of elision; how the Romans slid words together. It's not as it's written; the first three words are spoken 'odetamo'. It scans with the elisions. Who cares about that? I like the poem in my later years because of the distinction Horace makes between knowing and feeling. He doesn't know how he can hold two contradictory emotions about the same person. But he feels it (sentio) and acts on it--he suffers. The unverifiable, indeed, unbelievable is felt to be true to a sufficient degree that he will act (actually the suffer is, I think, passive voice--more like it drives him nuts or he is tortured). I see this distinction as precursor of the Catholic idea of "moral certainty"-- something you believe, without actually being able to prove it or maybe even understand it, but believe strongly enough to act on it without real hesitation. I, at least, can see all that in those two lines . My ex-wife stayed with me for a week for the graduation of our youngest daughter. I wonder if there is a connection between that fact and and my choice of poem?