Five weeks ago we were stunned into voluble and verbose silence by the discovery of the “Giggleswick Fragment” attributed to the Roman poet Ovid, now known only via the regrettable transcription attributed to an octogenarian named Ralph Rogerson. As well as issuing an edition of the text and translation, bolstered with a professional introduction (English here) and scholarly notes (English somewhere), we commissioned a hot-shot team to discuss the fragment exhaustively. With rapid fire and rabid fervour, these scholars approached the text from every productive angle: literary, stylistic, heteroliterary, philological, onomastic, numismatic, transchronic, anagrammatic, and decidedly priapic.
It is important to remind readers of the context of this important find. Although we have issued our own no-nonsense explainer to the event, it will be be better scholarly practice for us to reproduce the relevant section from the Wikipedia entry:
The discovery by Mr. Ralph Rogerson of what is now called teh ‘New Naso“ fragment on 26th of March 2021 really gave life to the torpor that had beset Ovidian studies, which had been floating listlessly under the dank pall of vagrant uncertainty, ever since the hard rain of L.P. Wilkinson‘s arguments had so profoundly shaken up the stormy waters of the academic grail. The discovery was tremendous and good. In this neutral article I. The Paelignian bard had sprouted a beautiful beak and could live again in these wild woods forlorn, no longer lost in chambering and wantonness.. The Gigglesworth Naso is now commemorated with a blue plaque, visible at the end of Aisle 7 of that city’s Asda metromart. Some commentators have argued that the fragment is not very ancient at all but actually a semi elaborate “joke”, and that there is no available evidence proving definitively that Ovid of Sulmo ever had a nose and; that Giggleswick has all the hall-marks of a made-up place name. Others[n+1] have strongly countered these braying naysayers, pointing out that jokes tend as a rule to be funny, and the time spent working on a ‘humorous hoax’ of such a kind and with no obvious purpose at all is too perverse a prospect as to be credible.
In order to offer some succour to the usual suspects working on the usual companion volumes with unusual dilatoriness, Antigone invited her readers to work up their own suggestions of how the eight lines preceding the extant portion of the “New Naso” once read – lines which must end with that cryptic pentamer about the “god-appalling gourd” (cucumi terrificante deos). For these dread words begin the Apographon Randolphi (now in private paws), and are there for all to see in our edited text of
The response from our readership was remarkable, in the quantity of entries, the quality of effort, and the fact that three times as many competitors chose the Latin competition – seeking to emulate the Genuine Ovid – over and above the English competition – toiling to channel the True Voice of Jesus.
In order to process entries in an efficient and above-board fashion, they were anonymised by one of our dedicated Email staff: each entry was shorn of the name of its competitor, converted into Wingdings, posted to a professional Wingdings Whisperer, who promptly rang one of our side-office team. Entries were thus carefully taken down over the ‘phone, letter by (roman) letter, until they were ready for safely anonymised circulation to our formidable panel of judges.
These experts were chosen on two grounds: (i) direct expertise of Neo-Nasalian scholarship, and (ii) a representative alphabetic spread. We also wished to ensure coverage of three different institutions: Jesus College in Oxford, UK; Columbia University in New York City, USA; and Wolfson College just south of Summertown, England. We are very grateful to Professor Armand D’Angour, Professor Katharina Volk, and Professor Philomen Probert for their expertise.
The original plan, conceived by the generous donor of our prize money, was for the judges to meet at a purpose-built castle in America, relax, shoot some pool and chew the Ovidian fat. This plan fell through when the information we had about the castle’s location proved to be outdated: on inspecting the place it should have been safely located, we found only an old polaroid blowing about a brownfield site amid acres of dust and tears. As a result, the team had to do their work in difficult and demanding conditions, spending a balmy week in the Grant Showerman Suite on Necker Island.
Despite these trials, a breakthrough eventually came. After many spirited and many-spirited discussions, they were able to whittle down a final clutch of winners. Hurrah!
So, let us first turn to the Neo-Nasonian Latin elegiacs, which were quite terrifyingly good. In fact, so good were they, that the team could not be reconciled over which of the top two entries should take the palm. So both competitors received £150 each to spend on mirth and wine and song, or perhaps to put towards the cost of a new academic book.
The Winners (Latin)
One of our winners was revealed to be a well-known figure among Classics-lovers, the ingenious Colin Leach, now enjoying his 87th year. His verses run as follows:
Cedite turba minor: namque huc ego praeditus olim
naribus immensis Naso poeta feror.
dum Titaniacis perturbo naribus urbem,
multa puella eheu ! me veniente fugit.
fallor, an impavidum Alciden terrore replevi?
me videt: omnipotens Iuppiter ipse tremit.
quis conferre meis alienas naribus audet?
clarus eo cucumi terrificante deos!
Yield, ye lesser crowd! For I come here, furnished at birth with a monstrous nose, I, Naso the poet! While my nose – worthy of a Titan – is alarming the citizenry, many a damsel – alas – flees at the sight of me. Am I mistaken , or have I filled fearless Hercules with terror? Seeing me, even Jupiter the all-mighty trembles; who dares to compare the noses of others to mine? Known to all, I strut with a cucumber that put panic in the hearts of the gods.
Our other joint-winner is a 21-year-old Classicist from Italy, Althea Sovani, currently studying Classics and Sanskrit at Oxford. Her verses, replete with learned textual notes from the otherwise little-known Nasonius, were no less splendid:
Vnde, rogas, veniunt versus? atque unde poeta
ipse vocor? naso mox ego notus ero.
nil aliud captem: nasus nam maxima virtus:
nare petendus honor, nare regendus amor.
carminibus fertur fortuna iuvare sagaces:
naribus emunctis laurus amoena datur.
semper erit doctis ingrata cucurbita Musis,
Pierios cucumi terrificante deos.
You ask where my verses come from? And why I’m called a poet? Soon I will be known for my nose (or ‘as Naso’). I’ll pursue nothing else, for my nose is my biggest asset: honour should be pursued by the nose, and by the nose love should be controlled. It’s said that fortune favours the sage through song: a beautiful laurel-crown is given to the person of refined tastes (lit. ‘the nose that has been wiped clean’). The gourd (also a ‘dolt’) will always be unwelcome to the learned Muses, when a (or ‘his’) cucumber terrifies the gods of Mount Pierus.
The Antigone team offers the warmest congratulations to both winners, and feels some pride that Althea has already appeared on our site: her own brilliant essay on Latin and Italian can be read here.
Yet there were so many brilliant and inventive entries, that it would be an injustice not to show them to the wider world. Here are the next best half dozen (with apologies to those we cannot squeeze in):
Si quis in hoc exstans populo nasutior esset,
diceret auctorem iure fuisse deum.
Socraticas nares dum rides, spernis honores:
Iuppiter huic tribuit, consiliumque dedit.
his sapiens Graecus dixit se noscere mundum:
“Mens mihi fert formas, corpus odore probo.”
semideo prudens datus est a numine nasus,
subdolior cucumi terrificante deos.
tam proxime accessit C. Bochan, Australia
If there were anyone rather ‘bigger-nosed’ among this group of people, he would say (with good reason) that a god created it. While you mock Socrates’ nostrils, you scorn his honorary gifts: Jupiter bestowed them to him, and granted him wisdom. By these the Greek sage said that he learned about the world: “My mind brings me Forms; I examine matter by odour.” A prudent nose was given by a god to the semi-divine hero, craftier than a cucumber terrifying the gods.
Fertur asello auris nympham servasse rudente.
pulchra tamen naso est quaeque tuenda suo.
namque asinus non ore rudit, sed podice taetro;
foedus odor somno suscitat inde deam.
sic furtiva deo per silvas stupra petente
pedens tunc asinus crimina prava fugat..
victus naso errat non iam per prata Priapus,
incautas cucumi terrificante deas.
M. Owen, UK
An ear, so the story goes, once saved a nymph when it heard the voice of an ass. But the truth is that every beautiful girl needs her Nose to protect her. For it wasn’t so much the ass as its filthy arse that brayed, And it was the foul stench that then roused the goddess from her slumber. And so, as the god stalked through the woods with wicked intent, An ass scuppered his lecherous plans with a timely trump. Conquered by the Nose, Priapus wanders no longer through the meadows, Terrifying unsuspecting young goddesses with his massive ‘cucumber’.
Naso mihi nomen, quo quam sim dignus, abunde
comperio admisso luminibus speculo.
nasum habeo magnum, pro Iuppiter, atque superbum,
naribus heroum mirifice similem.
talis erat (fama est) Sicyo quando ille Gigantum
princeps incensis arboribus superum
sedes appetiit; mox comminus icere doctus
dispersit cucumi terrificante deos.
J. Danielewicz, Poland
I discover just how much I deserve my name Naso by bringing a mirror to my eyes. I’ve got a big nose, by Jove, and a proud one, wonderfully like the noses of heroes. Such as Sicyo (the tale is told), the leader of the Giants, when he burned the trees of the powers above and assailed their home; soon he learned to strike at close quarters and so dispersed them with his cucumber [=Sicyos in Greek] that terrified the gods.
A patria fugiens linquo pulcherrima vitae
sed Praxilla levat verba decora docens:
Italicos soles et Sulmonensia mala
Paelignumque pirum — nulla videre licet.
sed nos si cucumi careamus Corfiniensi,
praemollem pratis inveniamus humum!
deinde novos errans perquiram naribus hortos,
maturo cucumi terrificante deos.
K. Conrau-Lewis, USA
Fleeing from my fatherland, I leave the most beautiful things in life, but Praxilla comforts me by teaching the appropriate words: Italian suns and apples of Sulmo, and the Paelignian pear — none is it permitted to see. But if we should be deprived of our Corfinian cucumber, then let us find a ground very soft with meadows; and so, wandering, with my nostrils I shall seek out new gardens where the ripe cucumber terrifies the gods.
Lumine agente, fretum Leander nocte natavit,
Hero dum mansit culmine pulchra sua.
lampade defuncta, nasutum nantis amicae
si duxisset odor, viveret ille modo.
Cydippae pomum convolvit Acontius ipse,
quod vexit votum non sine amore datum:
“uxor ero, quamvis tibi sit mirabile rostrum,
maius, sis, cucumi terrificante deos”.
J. Tunnicliffe, UK
Guided by a light, Leander swam across the strait every night, while beautiful Hero waited in her tower. When the torch blew out, if the scent of his girlfriend had led the swimmer’s nose, he would still be alive. Acontius himself rolled to Cydippe an apple which contained an oath lovingly given: “I shall be your wife, even though you have an awesome hooter, bigger, they say, than that cucumber that frightens the gods’.
The Winner (English)
The judges were no less hard-pushed on the English front. Few would make bold to outsing the Turdus of Turl Street, somehow ousting the Skylark by echoing his golden verses – lines that have been described by one reviewer as “post-parodic farce”. Among a markedly strong field, the two best entries fought it out robustly among the judges into the early hours of Day Five. At length, a single winner emerged, who was revealed in turn to be Nicholas Stone, also studying Classics at Oxford. His verses – which accompanied some excellent Latin elegiacs in parallel (reproduced beneath) – caused much amusement by the sheer audacity of rhyme. Many congratulations to Nicholas, who can spend his hard-earned £150 on whatever he damn well likes. Chapeau!
Our hero Perseus sent the snake-haired monster down to Hades,
And doing so he kept his own head high – and took the lady’s.
It’s said that then he started to prepare the gods a salad,
Outsized, with vegetables and living snakes to make you pallid.
His jest was pleasing to the nostrils of th’ Olympian gods
But when they took a closer look they didn’t like the odds,
For what they took, in terror, for the nostril of Medusa,
Was actually a fragrant piece of vegetable, to you Sir.
“Look on ye, at this fatal sight, Olympians!” quoth Perseus,
And with his dark green cucumber he had them screaming curses.
Perseus anguicomum monstrum demisit in Orcum
et proprium retinens gorgoneumque caput.
fertur et inde deis immane parare moretum
caulibus et vivis anguibus arte manus.
naribus et placuit lusus – sed terruit omnes
instar gorgoneae tam grave naris olus!
“En vobis visum fatalem,” dixit “Olympi!”
caeruleo cucumi terrificante deos.
But our runner-up was very nearly as brilliant, and provided a most compelling explanation for how a cucumber (of all things!) came onto the scene. We congratulate Cora Beth Fraser, another amazing contributor to the Antigone archive, on some characteristic verbal splendour:
A poet wandered through the woods with vegetables to sell;
He tarried long and things went wrong; his gourds began to smell.
“The very leeks do reek: O gods! That ever this should be!
These slimy greens I cannot sell: what will become of me?”
“Good poet, fear not!” a voice from nearby did sound,
Where Tragedy in buskins stood. “New weapons have you found.
Your Nose will be your Muse, these stinks your poetaster’s prods.
Now take your stand with cucumber affrightening the gods!”
The Antigone team offers its heartiest congratulation to the winners, salutes those who were pipped at the post this time, and thanks all those who spent time and effort engaging in something which is of potentially vast scholarly importance. And, what is infinitely more important, is just honest fun.
Our next competition will run in July, so please sit tight!
|⇧1||heroas fortes manus eadem serius scripsit.|
|⇧2||codd dett : dixeris “his magnum scis tremefexe Jovem”. Poeta ignotus quidam verbum pro tremefecisisse finxit tremefexe forsan ex exemplo vix valido, immo remoto, Silii Italici Punica 15.362, et cf. intellexe, detraxe etc.|
|⇧3||edd. vett. legunt Naso una cum vocor. perspicuum tamen est Naso insequenti parti coniungi. nam duobus modis Naso… notus ero legendum est, ut Nasonius in opere suo de vita illustrium nasutorum presse explicuit: “Poeta ancipitem hanc scripsit sententiam. dicere enim vult cum se Nasonem vocari tum fama mox potiturum esse nasi gratia.” idem Nasonius in alio opere minore de vita nasutorum minus illustrium hunc locum iterum protulit ut laudibus Ovidium extolleret, quod, cum Nasonius nasutus fuerit ipse, haud mirum est.|
|⇧4||alii capiam legunt. sed captem melius legitur, coll. Verg. Georg. 1.376.|
|⇧5||alii olor legunt.|
|⇧6||codd. dett. praebent audentis, quae lectio, quamvis Vergiliana, plane non modo metro sed etiam sensu mendum est.|
|⇧7||sic plerique defendunt, cum alicubi cucurbitae scripserit Petronius ut stultos significaret.|
|⇧8||eadem vi ac cucurbita fort. legendum?|
|⇧9||sic corrige deos, mendum Randophi immane.|
|⇧10||nomen Gigantis adhuc inauditum, sed oppido quam probabile, nam σίκυος Latine cucumis redditur.|
|⇧11||Viz Viz, April 2021.|