Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nothing New Under the Sun

I’ve raised a monument, more durable than bronze,
one higher than the Pyramids’ royal towers,
that no devouring rain, or fierce northerly gale,
has power to destroy: nor the immeasurable
succession of years, and the swift passage of time.
I’ll not utterly die, but a rich part of me,
will escape Persephone: and fresh with the praise
of posterity, I’ll rise, beyond.

Are those rap lyrics run through the verbose meme? Nope! What you see above is a translation of Ode 3.30 by Quintus Horatius Flaccus, best known as Horace, Roman lyric poet of the Augustan age.

bitches don't know bout my chalice

Here's the rest of the Ode:

While the High
Priest, and the silent Virgin, climb the Capitol,
I’ll be famous, I, born of humble origin,
(from where wild Aufidus roars, and where Daunus once,
lacking in streams, ruled over a rural people)
as the first to re-create Aeolian song
in Italian verse. Melpomene, take pride,
in what has been earned by your merit, and, Muse,
willingly, crown my hair, with the Delphic laurel.

He's saying that even though he's just a poor kid from somewhere no one's ever heard of, in a thousand thousand years people are still going to know his name because of how awesome his rhymes are. He'd deliver this poem in brisk meter, in public, accompanied by the lyre (hence lyric poetry.)

Sound like anything?

A lot of people say they like all genres of music except "country and rap." The response is so common as to be cliche. If asked why they don't like the latter, they explain it's because all rappers talk about is sex, money, and how famous they are.

If you asked these same people if they thought Roman poetry was important from an artistic point of view, they would probably say yes.

Now that you know the contradiction, go forth and unironically listen to Kanye West.