From Srinagar to Stroud

I did indicate in my last blog that an item in the Proceedings of the Cotteswold Naturalists’ Club was intriguing me, and here it is. As far as I can tell from my perusal of these Proceedings (you too are welcome to peruse them here), this “Ode to the Cotteswold Society” (the Cotteswolds or Coteswolds are what we now call the Cotswolds, the comparatively elevated country that reaches roughly from Oxford in the east to Stroud in the west) was written probably in very early 1850, and is a jocular plea to be admitted as a member of the Society. It advertises itself a parodical version of Horace’s Integer vitae ode, 1.22.

The author, I confidently believe, is W. Henry Hyett, of whom this is an interesting account, mentioning his love of Horace, short career as a Whig MP for Stroud, and Fellowship of the rather more eminent Royal Society. His interests match well those of the Cotteswold Naturalists’ Club, which is a jolly-sounding group that gathered at hostelries in towns across the western Cotswolds to discuss the geology, history and natural history of the area. It is pleasing to note how happily the scientific interests of Hyett and his fellow members coexisted with the classical educations also much in evidence. Knowledge of Horace here functions, in a way readily paralleled, as a mark of elite status. “Clubbable himself, Horace granted access to the club”, I have written in my Horace: VSI draft, never expecting to find quite such a literal illustration.

Below is a translation of the text and notes (it is set out in the Proceedings to resemble a contemporary annotated classical text), and below that my notes on Hyett’s poem and notes. There is much I am unsure about, and I’ll have made mistakes. I welcome any further ideas.

I have a special reason for enjoying Hyett’s parody. The places he refers to have become familiar to us in the last three years while my elder son has attended a special college in Nailsworth, while living most of the year in Stonehouse (there’s a map elucidating this and Hyett’s geography at the bottom). He will probably be moving on from there this year, but we have grown very fond of the area and the people who have looked after him so brilliantly. With my Horace hat on, it tickles me, too, that an ode of Horace based in the Sabine country can provoke recognition in Srinagar and be replayed in Stroud.

  1. An ostracism was an Athenian mechanism for deciding if any citizen should be expelled from the city for ten years, and Hyett suggests melodramatically that a failure to give him membership of the Society would be tantamount to exile.
  2. The reference in “Steam” may be to the fiendishly complex manner in which Gloucester became connected to the growing railway network. “Baker” is Thomas Barwick Lloyd Baker, president of the club, and a figure very active in efforts to rehabilitate (particularly younger) criminals.
  3. Beneath Hiatus lies Hyett, but the sense of the line is difficult, and I wonder if there is also some play on “hiatus” meaning a pause or gap.
  4. A traditional rhyme. See the map below.
  5. Michael Wood, now best known as a Services on the M5.
  6. Very good…
  7. “Champagne mousseux” is what we would simply call “Champagne”, heavy drinkers of which are notoriously prone to gout.
  8. Lutetia Parisiorum being the classical name for Paris.
  9. Reading impulsa.
  10. Ovid, Met. 15.44, from the story of Myscelus, founder of Croton.

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About Llewelyn Morgan

I'm a Classicist, lucky enough to work at Brasenose College, Oxford. I specialise in Roman literature, but I've got a persistent side-interest in Afghanistan, particularly the scholars and spies and scholar-spies who visited the country in the nineteenth century.

8 responses to “From Srinagar to Stroud”

  1. Allan Hands says :

    The English translation of Horace’s poem catches my attention. It relies on a vague resemblance to the original’s line lengths, combined with a careful placement of key words, which is a wonderfully accurate way of communicating Horace’s style and meaning. However, the translated notes list ‘Terminum’ as line 10, whereas the Latin is line 11, and I’m guessing this is a sly or subconscious thrust at Gloucester’s confusing railway. And maybe that’s what you mean in your annotation: “Very good…”. Or maybe not.

    • Llewelyn Morgan says :

      No, I just can’t count. You, on the other hand, are very generous. My “Very good” is for his adoption of Horace’s “terminus” to denote a railway terminus. I’m easily impressed.

  2. adam roberts says :

    Why does the first footnote specify nominative case for “Fussy” when Horace’s Fusce is vocative? Am I missing some clever joke?

    • Llewelyn Morgan says :

      He’s changed Horace’s grammar so that “Fussy” is the subject of the verb “eget”. He thus rather cleverly ends up with Fussy, himself, in the same position as Fusce, and “Fussy”, I suspect, is how a C19th schoolboy would have pronounced “Fusce”.

      • adam roberts says :

        Yes, I see that: but I don’t see how “Fussy” relates to W. Henry Hyett (unlike Hiatus, where I can see the joke). Or is it some schoolboy mistranslation of Flaccus? (But that seems a stretch).

        I’m making heavy weather: this is splendid, and your translation is excellent.

      • Llewelyn Morgan says :

        No, Fussy as a name for himself’s a mystery to me, too. If you have any bright ideas, please let me know…

      • Allan Hands says :

        I read that his “high tone of principle” unfitted him for politics, so that’s a likely explanation for ‘Fussy’, especially since he was obviously quite a manly chap who liked hanging out with manly chaps, among whom ribbing is a favourite pastime, then as now.

      • Llewelyn Morgan says :

        I thought I’d replied to this, but clearly haven’t. I think you’ve cracked it, yes: excellent idea.

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