Prosa 1A mysterious figure, female but more than human, appears at B.'s side and puts to flight the poetic muses.
stili officio: "with the help of a pen." astitisse: perfect infinitive (< a(d)sto ): the woman was already there when B. noticed her. verticem: < vertex , "topmost point," thus: "head." reverendi vultus: genitive of description. oculis ardentibus et . . . perspicacibus: ablative of description. communem: take with hominum, "common to men." quamvis: "although," with subjunctive. foret = esset ut . . . crederetur: subjunctive of result. statura discretionis ambiguae: "with stature of uncertain measure."
quidem . . . vero: "on the one hand . . . but on the other," a common usage in B. summi verticis cacumine: "with the very top of her head." quae: connecting relative, i.e., relative pronoun in place of demonstrative + et : "and she." extulisset: subjunctive of repeated action, with cum ("whenever"). intuitum: "gaze, view."
filis: ablative plural, "threads." uti = ut ("as"). post: adverb. eadem prodente: ablative absolute ( eadem = B.'s visitor). fumosas imagines: The reference seems to be to the wax masks of deceased ancestors which hung in the atrium of a Roman house and gathered soot from the hearth fire between funeral processions, when they were worn by mourners in a masquerade of reincarnation. solet: sc. obducere .
Π . . . Θ : for πρᾶχις (practice) and θεορία (theory). To the ancients "theory" (full contemplative understanding: what the woman now offers) both followed and surpassed "practice" (merely mechanical competence: concerns of the political domain in which B. was well-versed); thus π appears at the lower hem of the garment, θ at the neckline, with steps leading from the lower to the higher. Graecum: modifies π (taken as neuter). supremo: sc. margine . vero: always used post-positively in its clause; best translated "but." elementum: here, "letter [of the alphabet]." esset: subjunctive in relative clause of purpose.
manus: nominative plural.
scenicas: "of the stage," used pejoratively, as usual. foverent . . . alerent: subjunctive in relative clause of characteristic. foverent: "take care of." verum: the conjunction, "but."
infructuosis affectuum spinis: "with the sterile thorns of [that come from] the emotions." fructibus: ablative with uberem: "rich in fruit." assuefaciunt: "accustom" (transitive).
si quem: "if anyone"; the indefinite pronoun quis is commonly used after si , nisi , ne , or num . vulgo: adverb. solitum: sc. est . vobis: i.e., Camenis . ferendum: "to be borne, tolerated"; sc. esse mihi . nihil: adverbial accusative, "not at all." quippe: explanatory particle, "for, since." eo: antecedent is quem profanum . hunc vero . . . innutritum: ellipsis of main verb effectively expresses indignation. Eleaticis et Academicis studiis : the teachings of Parmenides of Elea (d. shortly after 450 B.C.), Plato (founder of the Academy at Athens; d. 347 B.C.) and their disciples.
Sirenes: in mythology, birds with the faces of beautiful girls singing sweetly to lure mariners to shore and death. usque in exitium dulces: "pleasant to the point of destruction." meisque . . . Musis: dative of agent with curandum and sanandum .
His . . . increpitus: "rebuked by these [words]." humi: locative. acies: "gaze, sight."
caligaret . . . possem: subjunctives in relative causal clauses (not quite parallel). dinoscere = dignoscere , "recognize, distinguish." esset: subjunctive in indirect question. visuque . . . defixo: ablative absolute. esset actura: imperfect subjunctive + future participle represents a future in an indirect question. conquesta: < conqueror , "bewail, lament bitterly."