24 June 2018

A Latin lesson with Plum

'Nothing is more curious than the myriad ways in which reaction from an unfortunate love-affair manifests itself in various men. No two males behave in the same way under the spur of female fickleness. Archilochum, for instance, according to the Roman writer, proprio rabies armavit iambo. It is no good pretending out of politeness that you know what that means, so I will translate. Rabies -- his grouch -- armavit -- armed -- Archilochum -- Archilochus -- iambo -- with the iambic -- proprio -- his own invention. In other words, when the poet Archilochus was handed his hat by the lady of his affections, he consoled himself by going off and writing satirical verse about her in a new metre which he had thought up immediately after leaving the house. That was the way the thing affected him'.

- P.G. Wodehouse, The Girl on the Boat, 1922

[The phrase more precisely means something like 'Rage armed Archilochus with his own iambic' [i.e. the poetic device, iambic pentameter]

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