Finally! At last we have more than one manuscript containing an image for August, the first month where this is so since March.
Here is the 4-line poem (tetrastich):
Fontanos latices et lucida pocula vitro
cerne, ut demerso torridus ore bibat.
Aeterno regni signatus nomine mensis
Latona genitam quo perhibent Hecaten.
Look for spring waters and transparent cups in glass,**
So that a thirsty man may drink with submerged mouth.
By the immortal name of a reign is the month designated,
In which, they maintain, that Hecate was born from Latona.
“vitro” is ablative singular, so I am not sure how that fits with the rest of the first line. The reign mentioned in line 3 is that of Augustus. On line 4, the Roman goddess Diana in one of her aspects took on the role of the Greek Hecate as goddess of the underworld. Her birthday was celebrated at Nemi on August 13th.
The 2-line verse (distich) is as follows:
Tu quoque Sextilis venerabilis omnibus annis
Numinis Augusti nomen †in anno venis†.
You also, venerable Sextilis, in every year,
(Under) the** name of the divinity of Augustus †in the year you come†.
The last words are those in the manuscripts, but Divjak and Wischmeyer suggest that they are corrupt; apparently the editions give various suggested emendations. I don’t see how the nominative “nomen” should be understood – “under” is a guess.
The 16th century Vienna manuscript 3416, folio 29 (online here), gives us this clearly redrawn image:
The rather more authentic 17th century R1 manuscript, Vat. Barb.lat.2154B (online here) gives us this, including the tetrastich and the first line of the distich (the other is on the facing page):
The Brussels 7543-49 manuscript, f.201r, gives us this image:
From the Berlin copy, Berol. lat. 61, f.233 (formerly f.228) we get this:
Divjak and Wischmeyer explain all this, so I shall summarise what they tell us.
All these images represent the heat of August, unsurprisingly, and ways to cool off. The image shows a naked man, thirsty from the summer heat, drinking from a bowl. The chin is visible through the bowl, so this is a glass bowl, as the first two lines of the tetrastich indicate. Around the man are three melons; a large vessel with a flame coming out of it; a flabellum (ceremonial fan) with peacock feathers atop a spiral pole; and a jacket with elaborate decoration, including fringes at the cuffs, perhaps associated with the . In the Vienna manuscript the vessel has a coat of arms with “ZO” on it; the others show “ZLS”. The Vienna manuscript omits the jacket. The R1 manuscript shows the (surely original) frame.
The jacket is perhaps associated with the Vulcanalia of August 23, a festival when fires were lit. At this time garments were hanged up in the sunlight, according to a poem by ps.Paulinus:
nunc omnis credula turba / suspendunt soli per Vulcanalia vestes
They add that the ZO/ZLS means “ΖΗΣ(ΗΣ) / ZES(es), a formula that is very often found in connection with precious drinking vessels such as gold glasses.”
(For more information on this series of posts, please see the Introduction to the Poems of the Chronography of 354).
- Ps. Paulinus, carmen 32 (CSEL 30), 138 f.↩