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Saturnalia Skit & More

Brennus Legranus' Latin Version (and English Translation)

COMOEDIA SATURNALIA

PROOEMIUM PRO MAGISTRIS

*English Translation

Versio anglica hujus parvae comoediae per Interrete apud gregem c.t. LatinTeach apparuit. Data est titulus anglice "Saturnalia skit", primum a Matthew Web mdwjcl@altavista.net  ("a Deborah Carter, Brian Ballantine et Ryan Tuccinardi in gymnasio Linganore, Frederick, Maryland", Civitatium Foederatarum scripta), die 3-o Decembris 1999, deinde, ut cursibus docendis conveniat paululum mutata, ab 'Ichester' Ichester@massed.net,  die 12-o ejusdem mensis edita. Me Ginny Lindzey, redactrix et telae domina praeclara, ut versionem latine faciam bis hortata est, quia ei, ut alius doctior, otiosior, strenuosior, audacior ad linguam caram nostram utile et facete docendam faceret, proposueram. Nihil, tamen, adhuc vidi.

Itaque in otio parvo feriarum Saturnalium, Nataliciarum, Novi Anni, constitui ipse pensum intentare. Mihi necesse videtur ut tantum verba et grammatica quae inveniantur in Cambridge Latin Course [Cursu Cantabrigensi linguae Latinae] et Defined vocabulary list [tabula vocabulorum determinatorum] concilii angli de probationibus, quod Midland Examining Group vocatur, ad alumnos circa sedecim annos natos, quae G.C.S.E. vocantur, in gradu altiori. Aliis verbis usus sum quae satis similia videantur verborum modernorum anglorum (mihi ignoscete vos aliarum linguarum!) aut quae oriantur ex combinationibus vocabulorum electorum etiam cum praefixis. Nonnulla alia verba a me usurpata in tabula explicantur per verba electa. Eandem rationem litterarum in fabula ipsa usurpavi ac mos majoritatis hodiernae; difficultates inter nominativum et ablativum primae declensionis atque nominativum et genitivum vel pluralem quartae declensionis illustravi per -a/‚ et -us/-Żs. Haec normae, ut mihi videtur, satis convenient eis qui alia enchiridia de lingua et alia concilia de probationibus adhibent.

Propono eis, qui taeniam "video" faciant, ut versiones (a) ex toto Latine, (b) ex toto per linguam patriam suam modernam, (c) Latine cum subscripta linguae patriae modernae et (d) per lingua moderna cum subscriptis latinis. Exemplum est videocassetta 'Julia in urbe Pompeiis' a Channel 4 Schools edita (e-cursus sales@schools.channel4.co.uk ).

Hoc prooemium scripsi Latine ut quoque collegae nostri, terras non anglophonicas incolantes qui Latine loquantur, et anglice ut collegae anglophonici Latine non loquentes, id intellegant.

Si versio mea comoediulae cum originalibus comparantur, ut credo, videbitur me: -- argumentum, rationem et formam addidisse; -- feminis partes dedisse; -- calliditates servorum adhibuisse; -- tempora verborum congruentia fecisse; -- explicavisse orationes velut "already several days into the holiday season", "now it has finally arrived" quamquam fabula agitur die anteriori ("the festival of Saturnalia begins tomorrow on December 17") -- nescire qua auctoritate dicatur "... lasted anywhere from three to seven days", quia alumnos nostros perturbare potest.

Nunc spatium temporis ante Saturnalia anni MM habemus ut statim fabula haec emendetur, e.g. ut versio anglica in homoeoteleutonica disticha et versio latina in vers-s plautinos componantur. Nam multi sunt subscriptores me peritiores. Eo modo possumus versionem omnino emendatam, correctam, pulitam, denique paratam ad Saturnalicia ventura excipienda.

Loca graviora de Saturnalibus:

--Frazer, Sir James -- 'The golden bough' -- Ch.LVIII, sect.3, pp.583-587 -- Wordsworth Editions, 1993 -- ISBN 1-85326-310-9. --Lempriäre, John -- 'Classical dictionary' -- p.605 -- Bracken Books -- ISBN 1-85958-024-6. --'New Larousse encyclopedia of mythology' -- p.205 -- Hamlyn, 1959 -- ISBN 0-600-02350-8.

Adnotationes [1] Catullus 'Carmina', 14,15 [2] Cfr. Plautus 'Casina', Epilogue, l.1015

Vocabula extra tabulas verborum datorum

alea = cubus parvus, qui numeros inter unum et sex habet in quaque facie et quo ludendo utitur.
argentarius = vir qui aliorum pecunias curat et eis, qui eam eas petunt, eas praebet; 
canis = animal generis quod saepe a Britannis 'Rex', vel 'Fido' et a Walt Disney 'Pluto' vocatur; 
Kalendae = dies primus mensis; 
lana = quod ab animalibus suis pastor habet ut frigus corpus non sentiat 
libertus = servus a domino liberatus; 
pictor = vir qui illustrationes facit; 
solarium = res quae horam sole indicat; 
tonsor = vir qui barbas virorum curat

 

COMOEDIA SATURNALICIA

Dramatis personae

Narrator (cui licet scriptum tenere)
Grumio (servus astutus)
Clemens (alius servus quoque paulum astutus)
Caecilius (dominus) 
Metella (Caecilii uxor) 
Melissa (serva, quam omnes familiae viri mirant) 
Cerberus (familiae *canis) 

Silentes e cursu Cantabrigensi ad directoris libitum:

Quintus (Caecilii filius), 
Pantagathus (*tonsor), 
Felix (*libertus), 
Celer (*pictor), 
Syphax (servorum venditor e Syria), 
Poppaea (serva, Grumionis amica), 
Lucrio (serva,Poppaeae dominus), 
Actius et Sorex (actores famosi), 
Hermogenes (mercator Graecus)

Scaena Prima

(Narrator, Grumio, Clemens)

(Extra Caecilii villam in urbe; Grumio huc et illuc ambulans se quaerit quo modo, ut Saturnalia antequam solent adveniant, cogat)

Narrator: Ecce domus civis divitis Pompeiani, *argentarii Lucii Caecilii Iucundi. Hodie est ante diem XVII (septimum decimum) Kalendas Ianuarias -- vel (spectatoribus loquens) dies 16-us (sextus decimus) mensis Decembris vobis caris spectatoribus -- et cras coeperit festus Saturnalicius, ante diem XVI (sextum decimum) Kalendas Ianuarias -- (spectatoribus loquens) id est dies 17-us (septimus decimus) mensis Decembris. Hic festorum laetissimus, ut deus Saturnus honoretur, multos dies celebratur. Secundum morem de festo Saturnalicio antiquum a patribus nostris institutum, domini servos suos liberant -- brevi tempore certe. Ecce servus acriter tempus suae libertatis exspectat. (Grumio intrat) Fabula nostra incipit.

Grumio (spectatoribus): Iam adest dies decimus septimus ante Kalendas Januarias, et mox feriae incipient. Credo me diutius non patienter manere posse dum illum libertatis meae pilleum in Saturnalibus gerendum a domino meo accipiam. Me rogo utrum hoc solarium aliquo modo accelerare possim, qu‚ perfidi‚ facere possim ut pilleum meum mihi uno die antequam debet habeam. (Solarium meditans circumambulat.) (Clemens intrat.)

Clemens: Io Saturnalia, o Grumio!

Grumio: Hodie minime, o Clemens. Nam nobis necesse est diem alium exspectare antequam nobis inter nos illam salutem dicere licet, nisi modum invenire possim ad horas accelerandas. Bene in mente tene: cras nobis dominus et domina et filius cibum dabunt, non nos illis!

Clemens: Ita vero; sed optima res Saturnalicia est quod nobis aperte in foro *alea ludere licet. Satis pecuniae reportabo qu‚ libertatem meam habeam -- perpetuam. Tum omnes denarios quos accipiam reservabo ut Melissam me‚ pecuni‚ liberatam in matrimonium ducam.

Grumio: Somnias semper. Semper pecuniam amittis quotiens ludes sive aperte in foro sive occulte domi. Melissae pulcherrimae amorem tu habere potes non plus quam Quintus. Cerberum nostrum plus amat. (Cerberus sonitum magna voce in somnio facit dum dormit in horto sub solarium). Tamen ego, qui astutior te sum, Melissam amabo, quod quid faciendum est scio.

Clemens: Nullo modo. Creo te ne Saturnalicium Principem quidem, qui felix omnes septem Saturnalicos dies imperat, eligi posse.

(Clemens exit. Melissa intrat)

Scaena Secunda

(Grumio, Melissa, Narrator)

Grumio: O Melissa, carissima. Consilium cepi quo hodie te in matrimonium ducere possim et te divitem faciam.

Melissa: Impossibile factu.

Grumio: Me audi. A te domino persuadendum est ut Saturnalia hodie incipiant. Veni mecum ut te nuntiem quid tibi faciendum sit. (Exeunt Grumio et Melissa)

Narrator: (spectatoribus) Omnes in domo hac adhuc dies Saturnalicios parant. Quamquam paene omni mense Decembris dies sanctos huius et illius dei celebravimus et celebrabimus solum hunc diem Saturni tanto cum gaudio cotidie exspectamus. Ludo pueri non aderunt; nullum erit negotium; nemo laborabit. Ceteri dies sancti vere laeti sunt, ante omnes dies Solis Invicti -- cum Sol medio hieme omnia mala superat -- et Kalendae Ianuarii vel dies Novi Anni, ubi honos deo Iano datur. Sed dies Saturni, "optimus dierum" a poet‚ nostro magnae famae Catullo [1] vocatur...

HIC MULTA VERBA IN MANUSCRIPTO DESUNT

... Tamen, quid accidit? Ecce dominus noster venit. Laetissimus videtur. Melissa eum ambulantem adiuvat. Nimis vini bibit. Clemens pillea manibus portat.

Scaenia Tertia

(Grumio, Narrator, Caecilius, Melissa, Clemens)

(Caecilius, Melissa, Clemens intrant. Melissa Caecilium ut stet adiuvat.)

Melissa (magna voce): Io Saturnalia! Io Saturnalia!

Caecilius (perturbatus): N-n-num d-d-dies S-s-saturni iam adest?

Omnes servi (magna voce): Io Saturnalia! Io Saturnalia!

Caecilius (parva voce): Bene vos audio. Io Saturnalia! Hodie igitur dominus vobis non sum. Hodie omnes aequales sumus. (Grumioni) Ecce tibi pilleum: libertus sis. (Clementi) Ecce tibi pilleum: libertus sis. (Melissae) Ecce tibi carae pilleum: liberta sis. (Quoque dat pilleum)

Grumio: Ubi igitur mihi sunt cibus et potio?

Caecilius (haesitat et postea meminit): Uxorem meam statim vocabo.

Clemens: Mora, o domine!

Caecilius: Minime, statim servandus es. Metella, uxor, veni! (Metella intrat)

Scaena Quarta

(Metella, Caecilius, Grumio, Clemens, Metella, Narrator)

Metella: Venio. Quid tamen accidit? Cur servi pillea in capite habent? Nolite dominum vestrum tangere! Caecili, male fecisti. Omen malum est. Quid socii in tuo sacerdotum collegio dicent? Calamitas!

Grumio: Domina, dominarum benignissima. Nobis parce. Tantum vobis confisi sumus, tantum deum magnum Saturnum venerare voluimus, et tantum dominus noster, vir tuus, nos servos humiles amat, ut sine mora partem parvam Saturnalium domi incepimus. Nemo scit; nemini nocuit.

Clemens: Domina, domine, res vere gravis est; sed mihi licet ut vobis consilium meum dem? Domine mi honeste: Saturnus deus, sacrificio per silentium acto, satisfieri potest. Domine liberalis: si dominae nostrae a nobis omnibus amatae, uxori tuae, gemmam illam formosissimam, quam diu cupit, donum dabis, uxores sociorum tuorum nihil scient. Nemo in hac domo de hac re in viis loquetur. De fama tua cogita, quaeso.

Metella: Praeterea, quod Grumionem, Clementem, Melissamque ante Saturnalia liberavisti, non te decet libertatem eis tollere. Clemens Melissam in matrimonium ducat et tabernam gerat; Grumionem Principem Saturnalicum faciamus et postea servis comporum nostrorum praeficiet.

Caecilius: Consentio. Cras ego et uxor cibum Saturnalicium vobis portabimus. Tum ad Saturni Templum omnes egrediemur ut spectemus sacerdotes sollemniter solventes lanam, quae pedes dei Saturni retinent. Ita libertas omnium Romanorum demonstrabitur . Solis occasu cras omnes vestibus laetissimis cenabimus. Os ingens Cerbero nostro ipse dabo, quod domum nostrum totum annum custodivit. Nunc ad lectos eamus omnes, nam cras Saturnalia incipient.

Narrator: Nunc, spectatores, vos aequum est manibus meritis meritum praemium clare dare.[2] Valete omnes.

F I N I S

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SATURNALIA SKIT

INTRODUCTION FOR TEACHERS

The English version of this playlet appeared on the Internet in the LatinTeach list. It was first given the title in English 'Saturnalia skit' by Matthew Web mdwjcl@altavista.net  ("by Deborah Carter (Teacher), Brian Ballantine and Ryan Tuccinardi of Linganore High School in Frederick Maryland") on 3rd December 1999, and then "tinkered around ... in order to bring in some C.L.C. references" by Ichester Ichester@massed.net   on 12th December. Ginney Lindzey, respected Editor and Webmistress, urged me twice to make a Latin version, simply because I had suggested that someone more learned, with more free time, more energetic and braver than I should do it to assist in teaching the language that we love practically and with fun. As yet, however, I have seen nothing.

Therefore, in the little free time during the celebrations of Saturnalia, Christmas and the New Year, I decided to attempt the task myself. It seemed appropriate to me that it should use only the vocabulary and grammar to be found in the 'Cambridge Latin course' and the 'Defined vocabulary list' of the Midland Examining Group, a British examining board, for the G.C.S.E. Higher Tier for pupils around 16 years old. I have used other words that seem near enough to modern English words (forgive me, you of other languages!), or which derive from combinations of the selected words, even with prefixes. A few other words that I have used are explained, using the selected words, in a list. I have used the same spelling conventions in the play as the majority currently use; problems between nominatives and ablatives of the first declension and between nominatives and genitives or plurals or the fourth declension, I have shown by -a/-É and -us/--s. I consider that these rules will sufficiently suit those using other course books for the language and other boards for the examination.

I suggest that those who make a video film should make vesions (a) wholly in Latin, (b) wholly in their modern language, (c) in Latin with subtitles in their modern mother tongue and (d) in their modern mother tongue with subtitles in Latin. An example is the videocassette 'Julia in urbe Pompeiis' by Channel 4 Schools in Britain (e-mail sales@schools.channel4.co.uk ).

So that this could be understand by our colleagues who do not speak English, I have written the introduction in Latin, and so that it could be understood by our English speaking colleages, I have made an English version.

If my version of the playlet is compared with the originals, I believe it will be seen that I have: -- added a plot, logic and shape; -- made parts for women; -- used the wiliness of the slaves; -- made the verb tenses consistent; -- explained phrases like "already several days into the holiday season", "now it has finally arrived", although the play takes place on the day before ("the festival of Saturnalia begins tomorrow on December 17"); -- not known why on what authority they say "... it lasted anywhere form/from three to seven days", which could confuse our pupils.

There is now time before the coming year's Saturnalia at once to correct and improve this playlet, for example by composing an English version in rhyming couplets and a Latin one in Plautus' verse forms. For there are many subscribers who are cleverer than I am. In that way we can have a fully accurate and polished version ready to welcome in the next Saturnalia.

Brennus Legranus

Main sources on the Saturnalia:

--Frazer, Sir James -- 'The golden bough' -- Ch.LVIII, sect.3, pp.583-587 -- Wordsworth Editions, 1993 -- ISBN 1-85326-310-9. 
--Lempriäre, John -- 'Classical dictionary' -- p.605-- Bracken Books -- ISBN 1-85958-024-6. 
--'New Larousse encyclopedia of mythology' -- p.205 -- Hamlyn, 1959 -- ISBN 0-600=02350-8.

Vocabulary outside the selected word tables

alea -- dice 
argentarius -- banker 
canis -- dog 
Kalendae -- first day of the month 
lana -- wool 
libertus -- freedman 
pictor -- painter 
solarium -- sundial 
tonsor -- barber.

SATURNALIA SKIT

Dramatis personae

Narrator (who is allowed to hold a script) 
Grumio, a wily slave 
Clemens, the other slave, also somewhat wily 
Caecilius, the master 
Metella, the wife of Caecilius 
Melissa, the female slave admired by all males of household 
Cerberus, the family dog 

Various non-speaking parts from Cambridge Latin course at the director's discretion: 
Quintus, Caecilius' son 
Syphax, slave dealer from Syria 
Pantagathus, barber 
Felix, freedman 
Celer, painter 
Poppaea, female slave and 
Grumio's girlfriend 
Lucrio, an old man and Poppaea's master 
Actius and Sorex, well-known actors 
Hermogenes, Greek merchant

Scene One

(Narrator, Grumio, Clemens)

(Scene: outside Caecilius' villa in the city. Grumio is pacing and trying to figure out a way to make Saturnalia come earlier.)

Narrator: Here we are outside the house of a wealthy citizen of Pompeii, the banker Lucius Caecilius Iucundus. It is the 17th day before the Kalends of January -- or (addresses audience) December 16th to you, dear audience -- and the festival of Saturnalia will start tomorrow, on December 17th. This most joyous of holidays, in honor of the god Saturn, lasts many days. One of the traditions during Saturnalia is for masters to free their slaves -- temporarily, of course. As our play begins, one slave is waiting eagerly for his moment of freedom. (Grumio enters) Let the play commence.

Grumio: (addressing audience): Here we are on the 17th day before the Kalends of January, and soon the festival will begin. I don't think I can wait another moment for my cap of freedom -- the cap of freedom that my master will give me to wear during the Saturnalia. I wonder if there is any way to speed up this sundial here, to trick him into giving me my pilleum a day early? (He walks around the imaginary sundial, contemplating.) (Clemens enters.)

Clemens: Io Saturnalia, Grumio!

Grumio: Not yet, Clemens. We'll have to wait another day to use that greeting, unless I can think of a way to hurry time along. Just think -- tomorrow when we wake up, the master and his family will be serving our breakfast instead of the other way around!

Clemens: Yes, but the best part about Saturnalia is being allowed to gamble openly and in public. I am going to win enough money to buy my freedom permanently! Then I'll save all the denarii that I earn so that I can buy Melissa's freedom and make her my wife.

Grumio: You are a dreamer. All you ever do is lose money when you gamble, whether it's in public or in secret. And you stand as much chance of winning the affections of the lovely Melissa as Quintus does. She pays more attention to Cerberus here (snoring loudly as he sleeps in the garden beneath the sundial). But I, who am cleverer than you will love Melissa, because I know what to do.

Clemens: No way. You will not even be elected the King of the Saturnalia, that lucky person who gets to order everyone else around for seven days!

(Clemens exits. Melissa enters)

Scene Two

(Grumio, Melissa, Narrator)

Grumio: Melissa, my dearest. I have a plan so that I can marry you and make you rich.

Melissa: It can't be done.

Grumio: Listen. You must persuade the master that Saturnalia is starting today. Come with me and I shall tell you what you have to do. (Grumio and Melissa exeunt).

Narrator (to the audience): Everybody in this household is still preparing for the Saturnalia. Although almost the entire month of December has been spent in celebrating some holiday or another, it is the Saturnalia that everyone looks forward to. There will be no school during this time, no business. No one will have to work at all. Oh, the other celebrations are very nice, especially the solstice festival for Sol Invictus -- the unconquered sun -- and the Kalends of January, or New Year, in honor of Janus. But Saturnalia is the one called "the best of days" by the great poet Catullus...

(HERE THERE IS A LARGE LACUNA IN THE MANUSCRIPT)

... But what is happening? See our master is coming. He seems extremely happy. Melissa is helping him as he walks. He has had too much wine to drink. Clemens is carrying the liberty caps in his hands.

Scene Three

(Caecilius, Melissa and Clemens enter, Melissa helping hold Caecilius up).

Melissa (in a loud voice): Io Saturnalia! Io Saturnalia!!

Caecilius (confused): I-i-is i-i-t already S-s-saturnalia day?

All the slaves (loudly): Io Saturnalia! Io Saturnalia!

Caecilius (in a weak voice): I can hear you alright. Io Saturnalia! Today I am not your master. Today we are all equal! (To Grumio) Here is your cap of freedom. Be thou free. (To Clemens) Here is your cap of freedom. Be thou free. (To Melissa) Here is your cap of freedom, my dear. Be thou free. (He gives each slave a cap to wear.)

Grumio. At last! And where is my breakfast?

Caecilius (wavers and them remembers): I shall call my wife at once.

Grumio: Stop, sir!

Caecilius: Not at all. You must be served at once. Metella, wife, come here!. (Metella enters).

Scene Four

(Metella, Caecilius, Grumio, Clemens, Metella, Narrator)

Metella: I'm coming. But what's happening? Why are the slaves wearing their liberty caps? Let go of your master! Caecilius you have acted badly. This is a bad omen. What will the members of your college of priests say? Disaster!

Grumio: Mistress, kindest of all mistresses. Be kind to us. We trusted you so much, we wished so much to worship the great god Saturn, and our master, your husband loves us slaves so much that without delay we started at home a little bit of the Saturnalia. Noone knows; noone is harmed.

Clemens: Mistress, Master, it is a very serious matter. But may I suggest something to you? Noble sir: Saturn can be satisfied by a silent sacrifice. Generous sir: if you give our Mistress, whom we all love, your wife, that beautiful jewel which she has long desired, the wives of your colleagues will know nothing. Noone from this household will speak about this outside. Consider your good name, I beg.

Metella: Also, since you have freed Grumio, Clemens and Melissa, it is not right for you to take their freedom away. Clemens will marry Melissa and run the shop; we shall make Grumio the King of the Saturnalia and afterwards he will oversee the slaves in our fields.

Caecilius: I agree. Tomorrow I and my wife will bring your Saturnalia food to you. Then we shall all go out to the Temple of Saturn to witness the priests as they ceremoniously untie the woollen bonds around the feet of the god Saturn. That will symbolize the freedom for all Romans. At nightfall tomorrow we shall all dine in informal dress. I myself shall give a huge bone to our Cerberus for guarding the house all the year. Now let us all go to be for Saturnalia begins tomorrow.

Narrator: Now audience, show the pleasure you have deserved with your hands in a way that is deserved. Farewell to all.

T H E E N D

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Last update December 17, 2000. This site was re-created August 1998 by Ginny Lindzey, Webmistress, Texas Classical Association. All text and graphics are copyrighted. Original photo of arch by Roger Robison. To report problems and to get permission to reprint articles, please contact Ginny at ginlindzey@lindzey.us