Female Voices, V

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today we’ll look at a second possible ending for the Tres Columnae story we started on Wednesday, in which our character Vipsānia Caeliae (mother of Prima, Secunda, and poor unfortunate Cnaeus) has come to her sister-in-law, Caelia Valeriī (mother of Valeria, Lucius, and Caeliola) for parenting advice. As you may recall, she gets a bit distracted on her travels through Herculaneum, but she eventually arrives (uninvited and unannounced!) at domus Valeriī, where Caelia graciously welcomes her and invites her to stay for lunch. In the first possible ending, which we looked at in yesterday’s post, Vipsānia eventually understands Caelia’s advice … but in this version, she doesn’t quite get the idea. Eventually, in fact, Caelia gets so tired of her that – you’ll see. The beginning of the story is similar to Version 1, but things change in the third paragraph:

Caelia et Vipsānia in triclīniō prandent et rēs minimī mōmentī commemorant. tandem Vipsānia, “prandium quidem optimum!” exclāmat. “quam mē dēlectat! sed heu! vae mihi! miserrima sum, quod fīlius tam impius mihi est. nōnne nōs decet fīlium meum commemorāre? nōnne Cnaeum meliōrem reddere potes? quaesō, amābō tē, mihi hanc rem explicā: cūr Lūcius tuus semper optimē sē gerit? et quid facere dēbeō?”

Caelia diū tacet et rem cōgitat. Dulcissima et Fēlīcissima, ancillae Vipsāniae, quoque tacent, quod rīsūs cēlāre vix possunt. tandem, “ō Vipsānia mea,” inquit Caelia, “tē adiuvāre volō. quid tamen tibi suādēre possum? quid cōnsiliī dare? haud enim difficile est fīlium pium reddere. parentibus necesse est pia laudāre, impia pūnīre, et piē ipsōs sē gerere.”

Vipsānia attonita, “ō Caelia mea,” respondet, “ego et Caelius haec omnia cotīdiē facimus. Cnaeus tamen noster semper impiē, numquam optimē sē gerit. nOnne vōs artibus magicīs quoque ūtiminī? nōnne cantibus? nōnne etiam venēnīs?”

Caelia attonita rīsum cēlāre temptat. “ō Vipsānia mea, num venēfica sum? fortasse verba mea nōn intellegis. sī Cnaeus tuus pessimē sē gerit, quid vōs respondētis? quid facitis?”

et Vipsānia, “vae! heu! mē taedet poenārum!” respondet. “difficile est poenās numerāre! nōnne istum Cnaeum cotīdiē verberāmus? nōnne vituperāmus? nōnne poenās maximās mināmur? cūr igitur iste Cnaeus pessimē et impiē sē gerit? sānē opus est cantuum vel venēnōrum!”

tum Caelia, “hercle! rem tōtam intellegō!” exclāmat. “facillimum est mihi tē adiuvāre! sī quandō Cnaeum tuum castīgās, tē oportet vōce blandā, nōn clāmōribus ūtī! clāmōrēs enim puerum meliōrem reddere haud possunt!”

sed Vipsānia, “num mē dērīdēs, Caelia Valeriī? num mē dērīdēs et contemnis?” exclāmat. “num mē, uxōrem frātris tuī, contemptam habēs? haud stulta, haud īnsāna sum! Cnaeus enim, nisi clāmōribus ūtimur, verba nostra nōn audit. fortasse surdus est iste, fortasse īnsolēns, fortasse prāvus. verbīs blandīs ūtī haud possumus! nōnne miserrima sum, sed tū iocāris!”

Caelia sēcum rīdet et paulīsper tacet. tandem, “heus, Vipsānia mea, ignōsce mihi,” respondet. “ego, ut dīcis, certē iocor. vīsne mē vērum tibi patefacere?”

Vipsānia avida cōnsentit et Caelia, “tē oportet,” susurrat, “venēnum exquīsītissimum tibi et marītō et Cnaeō parāre. sī quis hoc venēnum bibit, omnēs līberōs illī pārēre oportet.” Vipsānia cēram et stilum postulat, et Caelia, “tibi necesse est haec in Forō quaerere,” susurrat.

mox Vipsānia celeriter ē domō Valeriī ēgreditur Forum vīsitātum. in forō plūrima holera emit: bētās et carōtās et brassicās. ancillās iubet holera ad carpentum celeriter ferre.

ancillae rīsūs cēlāre cōnantur, quod iocum vērum intellegunt. et in domō Valeriī, ubi Caelia familiae rem tōtam nārrat, maximē rīdētur et cachinnātur.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • My first thought was, “Poor Vipsania! Will she ever figure it out?”
  • Do you think she deserved the iocum vērum, or was Caelia a bit mean to her?
  • Is there, perhaps, some underlying family strife between the sisters-in-law?
  • Which version of the story do you like better?
  • And what do you think of the idea of multiple possible endings for a story?

Tune in next time, when we’ll begin to use these stories to explore aspects of Roman women’s lives that are sometimes neglected in a “traditional” textbook-based Latin curriculum. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

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  1. […] Friday’s post for Part III, Version B, in which Vipsānia definitely misunderstands Caelia’s advice … and frustrated Caelia plays a practical joke on her. […]


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