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Latin praise in Mere’s Palladis Tamia

Well it’s not just for Shakespeare, but he is mentioned in the same breath as Ovid and Horace and several contemporaries. My latin is lesse than Shakespeare’s so I called in help from visiting linguist David Crystal for a little pre-prandial translation. Several observations arose from this. Firstly that your average Elizabethan would have been much more strict in his Latin spelling than his Englishe. Secondly how close to sonnets 55 (Not marble, nor the gilded monuments of Princes shall outlive this powerful rime) and 65 (Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor war’s quick fire shall burn the living record of your memory) these praises are.

Iamque opus exegi, quod nec jovis ira, nec ignis,
nec poterit ferrum, nec edax abolere vetustas;

I have now completed a work that neither the wrath of Jove, nor fire,
nor sword, nor the devouring of time can destroy;

and as Horace saieth of his,

exegi monumentum aere perennius
regalique situ pyramidus altius,
quod non imber edax, non Aquilo impotens
possit diruere, aut innumerabilis
annorum series et fuga temporum:

I have created a monument more lasting than bronze,
And higher than the royal site of the pyramids,
Which neither harsh rains nor the wild North wind
can wear away, nor the countless succession of years
and the flight of the seasons.

so I say severally of Sir Philip Sidney’s, Spenser’s, Daniel’s, Drayton’s, Shakespeare’s, and Warner’s workes,

Non Iovis ira, imbres, Mars, ferrum, flamma, senectus,
hoc opus, unda, lues, turbo, venena ruent,
et quanquam ad pulcherrimum hoc opus evertendum,
tres illi Dii conspirabunt, Chronus, Vulcanus, et Pater ipse gentis.
Non tamen annorum series, non flamma, nec ensis;
Aeternum potuit hoc abolere Decus.

It is not the anger of Jove, storms, Mars, the sword, flame, old age,
the wave, plague, whirlwind, poison will bring this work to ruin,
and though there should be a conspiracy of the three Gods,
Chronus, Vulcan, and Jupiter (the Father of the nation)
for the overthrowing of this most beautiful work,
Not, however, the succession of years, nor flame,
nor sword will destroy this eternal splendour.

The first observation of the spelling came from some badly spelled Latin in my email, which I had transcribed (word for word) and not transliterated (letter for letter) the excerpt from Palladis Tamia pages 318-19. Yes i’d never made the distinction before either, but he is a linguist. BTW I was the guilty party (keyboard slip: n for m) and unfortunately for the laugh it wasn’t Meres Latin that was at fault.

Also interesting from a linguistic point of view:

as there are eight famous and chief languages,
Hebrew, Greek, Latine, Syriack, Arabicke, Italian, Spanish, and French:

so there are eight notable several kinds of poets,
Heroick, Lyricke, Tragicke, Comicke, Satiricke, Iambicke, Elegiacke, and Pastoral.

Shakespeare is then mentioned as excelling in lyric and tragedy and comedy (mentioned together with Edward, Earl of Oxforde being first on the list as his rank deserved). But the genres of poetry take away from the third observation: the 8 famous and chiefe languages.

Syriac. Seriously? The rest i can understand, but Syriac? The first either myself or DC had heard of it in relation to the Elizabethans. A quick google found that Syriac Renaissance happened from the 11thC to 13thC.

Syriac is a literary language formed from Aramaic. Wiki saieth: There has been a continuous stream of Syriac literature from the fourteenth century through to the present day. The first such flourishing of Neo-Syriac was the seventeenth century literature of the School of Alqosh, in northern Iraq.

(too late for Meres who printed Palladis Tamia in 1598.
But as Wiki saieth:

Francis Meres (1565 – 29 January 1647) was an English churchman and author.
He was born at Kirton in the Holland division of Lincolnshire in 1565. He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he received a B.A. in 1587 and an M.A. in 1591).

Maybe the church is the connection but he speaks of the 8 famous languages as if everybody knew this. Copasetically enough there are 8 mentions of Syria in the plays

OK 2 of them are in the word Assyrian.

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