Monday, July 10, 2006

Superbia Amoris

This image came my way last Thursday. I was getting a birthday reading from my dear friend who reads the stars and flips the cards. She used an unusual and beautiful deck I found for her in a Roman flea market, instead of the usual tarot. It has cards like "il lladro," the thief, and "sospira," the longing lover. Anyway, I got "superbia," which is a peacock with his tail feathers fully up and open like a fan. The card fell into the house of love relationships. Sounded promising, if you want to ignore the fact that the Italian word means pride, the deadliest of the seven deadlies. I Googled "superbia + peacock," because I know that iconographies tend to come out of established traditions, and because this is one way I have fun. Here's the first thing I got:

"Superbia eius humiliabitur. Osee 7 (750-725 BC)

Si l'orgueil veut hausser la creste
L'Amour luy fait baisser la teste.

L'Amour diuin est humble & debonnaire,
L'Amour mondain superbe, & temeraire;
Mais le diuin est bien le plus puissant;
Car le mondain voulant hausser la creste,
Ces deux amans luy font baisser l'aigrette,
Et de leurs traits le vont humiliant."

In addition to the line from Osee, the page seems to list both Ovid and Petrarch, each corresponding to the two stanzas, and respectively. But I'm unsure. Here's my hack translation:

"If Pride wants to raise the crest
Love for him lowers his head.

Divine Love is humble and good-natured.
Worldly Love is prideful and reckless;
But the Divine is the most powerful;
For the Worldy wanting to raise the crest,
These two lovers lower his tail feathers
and by their deeds* humiliate him."

(*this can also be a line, or harness)

Any of you Latin and French lovers are welcome to jump in here at any time.

So I'm meant to be wary of prideful love? In myself or in a mate? I agree with the poem's sentiments, but not sure how it applies yet. I've certainly suffered my fair share of humiliations in Love. One might argue I could stand to be a touch more prideful, though not in the "showy" sense. Or maybe it has something to do with a recent declaration that I intended to marry Bob Dylan. That's hubris for ya. Cuddled up at night to that craggy old face... but God I love him.


jt castleton said...

"la teste" is actually an archaic form of "la tête," which you undoubtedly know means "head." the circumflex in modern french often replaces long-lost S's, like in the words forêt, hâtivement, and pâtisserie (forest, hastily, and pastry).
we'll have a quiz on all this next friday.

kissyface said...

Well, either I didn't fare too badly, or you're just going easy on me (in which case, fire away). En tout cas, thanks for the correction; I swapped it out. I did know the history of circonflexe, but knowing when that's in effect in archaic French? Well, I'm out of my depths there.

Here's a question: if the pointy hat represents the "s," why isn't it pronounced? Couldn't the "e" in foret easily be replaced with an accent aigu? Or is there a subtlety of sound lost on my American ears?