The Carmina of Caius Valerius Catullus, by Catullus

lxiiii.

Peliaco quondam prognatae vertice pinus

Dicuntur liquidas Neptuni nasse per undas

Phasidos ad fluctus et fines Aeetaeos,

Cum lecti iuvenes, Argivae robora pubis,

Auratam optantes Colchis avertere pellem 5

Ausi sunt vada salsa cita decurrere puppi,

Caerula verrentes abiegnis aequora palmis.

Diva quibus retinens in summis urbibus arces

Ipsa levi fecit volitantem flamine currum,

Pinea coniungens inflexae texta carinae. 10

Illa rudem cursu prima imbuit Amphitriten.

Quae simulac rostro ventosum proscidit aequor,

Tortaque remigio spumis incanduit unda,

Emersere freti canenti e gurgite vultus

Aequoreae monstrum Nereides admirantes. 15

Atque illic alma viderunt luce marinas

Mortales oculi nudato corpore Nymphas

Nutricum tenus extantes e gurgite cano.

Tum Thetidis Peleus incensus fertur amore,

Tum Thetis humanos non despexit hymenaeos, 20

Tum Thetidi pater ipse iugandum Pelea sanxit.

O nimis optato saeclorum tempore nati

Heroes, salvete, deum genus, o bona matrum

Progenies, salvete iterum placidique favete.

Vos ego saepe meo, vos carmine conpellabo,

Teque adeo eximie taedis felicibus aucte 25

Thessaliae columen Peleu, cui Iuppiter ipse,

Ipse suos divom genitor concessit amores.

Tene Thetis tenuit pulcherrima Nereine?

Tene suam Tethys concessit ducere neptem,

Oceanusque, mari totum qui amplectitur orbem? 30

Quoi simul optatae finito tempore luces

Advenere, domum conventu tota frequentat

Thessalia, oppletur laetanti regia coetu:

Dona ferunt prae se, declarant gaudia voltu.

Deseritur Cieros, linquunt Phthiotica tempe, 35

Crannonisque domos ac moenia Larisaea,

Pharsalum coeunt, Pharsalia tecta frequentant.

Rura colit nemo, mollescunt colla iuvencis,

Non humilis curvis purgatur vinea rastris,

Non falx attenuat frondatorum arboris umbram, 41

Non glaebam prono convellit vomere taurus, 40

Squalida desertis rubigo infertur aratris.

Ipsius at sedes, quacumque opulenta recessit

Regia, fulgenti splendent auro atque argento.

Candet ebur soliis, collucent pocula mensae, 45

Tota domus gaudet regali splendida gaza.

Pulvinar vero divae geniale locatur

Sedibus in mediis, Indo quod dente politum

Tincta tegit roseo conchyli purpura fuco.

Haec vestis priscis hominum variata figuris 50

Heroum mira virtutes indicat arte.

Namque fluentisono prospectans litore Diae

Thesea cedentem celeri cum classe tuetur

Indomitos in corde gerens Ariadna furores,

Necdum etiam sese quae visit visere credit, 55

Vt pote fallaci quae tum primum excita somno

Desertam in sola miseram se cernat arena.

Inmemor at iuvenis fugiens pellit vada remis,

Inrita ventosae linquens promissa procellae.

Quem procul ex alga maestis Minois ocellis, 60

Saxea ut effigies bacchantis, prospicit, eheu,

Prospicit et magnis curarum fluctuat undis,

Non flavo retinens subtilem vertice mitram,

Non contecta levi + velatum pectus amictu,

Non tereti strophio lactantes vincta papillas, 65

Omnia quae toto delapsa e corpore passim

Ipsius ante pedes fluctus salis adludebant.

Set neque tum mitrae neque tum fluitantis amictus

Illa vicem curans toto ex te pectore, Theseu,

Toto animo, tota pendebat perdita mente. 70

A misera, adsiduis quam luctibus externavit

Spinosas Erycina serens in pectore curas

Illa tempestate, ferox quom robore Theseus

Egressus curvis e litoribus Piraei

Attigit iniusti regis Gortynia tecta. 75

Nam perhibent olim crudeli peste coactam

Androgeoneae poenas exolvere caedis

Electos iuvenes simul et decus innuptarum

Cecropiam solitam esse dapem dare Minotauro.

Quis angusta malis cum moenia vexarentur, 80

Ipse suom Theseus pro caris corpus Athenis

Proicere optavit potius quam talia Cretam

Funera Cecropiae nec funera portarentur,

Atque ita nave levi nitens ac lenibus auris

Magnanimum ad Minoa venit sedesque superbas. 85

Hunc simulac cupido conspexit lumine virgo

Regia, quam suavis expirans castus odores

Lectulus in molli conplexu matris alebat,

Quales Eurotae progignunt flumina myrtus

Aurave distinctos educit verna colores, 90

Non prius ex illo flagrantia declinavit

Lumina, quam cuncto concepit corpore flammam

Funditus atque imis exarsit tota medullis.

Heu misere exagitans inmiti corde furores

Sancte puer, curis hominum qui gaudia misces, 95

Quaeque regis Golgos quaeque Idalium frondosum,

Qualibus incensam iactastis mente puellam

Fluctibus in flavo saepe hospite suspirantem!

Quantos illa tulit languenti corde timores!

Quam tum saepe magis + fulgore expalluit auri! 100

Cum saevom cupiens contra contendere monstrum

Aut mortem oppeteret Theseus aut praemia laudis.

Non ingrata tamen frustra munuscula divis

Promittens tacito succepit vota labello.

Nam velut in summo quatientem brachia Tauro 105

Quercum aut conigeram sudanti cortice pinum

Indomitum turben contorquens flamine robur

Eruit (illa procul radicitus exturbata

Prona cadit, late quast impetus obvia frangens),

Sic domito saevom prostravit corpore Theseus 110

Nequiquam vanis iactantem cornua ventis.

Inde pedem sospes multa cum laude reflexit

Errabunda regens tenui vestigia filo,

Ne labyrintheis e flexibus egredientem

Tecti frustraretur inobservabilis error. 115

Sed quid ego a primo digressus carmine plura

Conmemorem, ut linquens genitoris filia voltum,

Vt consanguineae conplexum, ut denique matris,

Quae misera in gnata deperdita laetabatur,

Omnibus his Thesei dulcem praeoptarit amorem, 120

Aut ut vecta rati spumosa ad litora Diae

Venerit, aut ut eam devinctam lumina somno

Liquerit inmemori discedens pectore coniunx?

Saepe illam perhibent ardenti corde furentem

Clarisonas imo fudisse e pectore voces, 125

Ac tum praeruptos tristem conscendere montes,

Vnde aciem in pelagi vastos protenderet aestus,

Tum tremuli salis adversas procurrere in undas

Mollia nudatae tollentem tegmina surae,

Atque haec extremis maestam dixisse querellis, 130

Frigidulos udo singultus ore cientem.

‘Sicine me patriis avectam, perfide, ab oris,

Perfide, deserto liquisti in litore, Theseu?

Sicine discedens neglecto numine divom

Inmemor a, devota domum periuria portas? 135

Nullane res potuit crudelis flectere mentis

Consilium? tibi nulla fuit clementia praesto,

Inmite ut nostri vellet miserescere pectus?

At non haec quondam nobis promissa dedisti,

Vane: mihi non haec miserae sperare iubebas, 140

Sed conubia laeta, sed optatos hymenaeos:

Quae cuncta aerii discerpunt irrita venti.

Iam iam nulla viro iuranti femina credat,

Nulla viri speret sermones esse fideles;

Quis dum aliquid cupiens animus praegestit apisci, 145

Nil metuunt iurare, nihil promittere parcunt:

Sed simulac cupidae mentis satiata libidost,

Dicta nihil meminere, nihil periuria curant.

Certe ego te in medio versantem turbine leti

Eripui, et potius germanum amittere crevi, 150

Quam tibi fallaci supremo in tempore dessem.

Pro quo dilaceranda feris dabor alitibusque

Praeda, neque iniecta tumulabor mortua terra.

Quaenam te genuit sola sub rupe leaena?

Quod mare conceptum spumantibus expuit undis? 155

Quae Syrtis, quae Scylla rapax, quae vasta Charybdis?

Talia qui reddis pro dulci praemia vita.

Si tibi non cordi fuerant conubia nostra,

Saeva quod horrebas prisci praecepta parentis,

At tamen in vostras potuisti ducere sedes, 160

Quae tibi iocundo famularer serva labore,

Candida permulcens liquidis vestigia lymphis

Purpureave tuum consternens veste cubile.

Sed quid ego ignaris nequiquam conqueror auris,

Externata malo, quae nullis sensibus auctae 165

Nec missas audire queunt nec reddere voces?

Ille autem prope iam mediis versatur in undis,

Nec quisquam adparet vacua mortalis in alga.

Sic nimis insultans extremo tempore saeva

Fors etiam nostris invidit questibus aures. 170

Iuppiter omnipotens, utinam ne tempore primo

Gnosia Cecropiae tetigissent litora puppes,

Indomito nec dira ferens stipendia tauro

Perfidus in Creta religasset navita funem,

Nec malus hic celans dulci crudelia forma 175

Consilia in nostris requiesset sedibus hospes!

Nam quo me referam? quali spe perdita nitar?

Idomeneosne petam montes? a, gurgite lato

Discernens ponti truculentum ubi dividit aequor?

An patris auxilium sperem? quemne ipsa reliqui, 180

Respersum iuvenem fraterna caede secuta?

Coniugis an fido consoler memet amore,

Quine fugit lentos incurvans gurgite remos?

Praeterea nullo litus, sola insula, tecto,

Nec patet egressus pelagi cingentibus undis: 185

Nulla fugae ratio, nulla spes: omnia muta,

Omnia sunt deserta, ostentant omnia letum.

Non tamen ante mihi languescent lumina morte,

Nec prius a fesso secedent corpore sensus,

Quam iustam a divis exposcam prodita multam, 190

Caelestumque fidem postrema conprecer hora.

Quare facta virum multantes vindice poena,

Eumenides, quibus anguino redimita capillo

Frons expirantis praeportat pectoris iras,

Huc huc adventate, meas audite querellas, 195

Quas ego vae! misera extremis proferre medullis

Cogor inops, ardens, amenti caeca furore.

Quae quoniam verae nascuntur pectore ab imo,

Vos nolite pati nostrum vanescere luctum,

Sed quali solam Theseus me mente reliquit, 200

Tali mente, deae, funestet seque suosque.’

Has postquam maesto profudit pectore voces,

Supplicium saevis exposcens anxia factis,

Adnuit invicto caelestum numine rector,

Quo motu tellus atque horrida contremuerunt 205

Aequora concussitque micantia sidera mundus.

Ipse autem caeca mentem caligine Theseus

Consitus oblito dimisit pectore cuncta,

Quae mandata prius constanti mente tenebat,

Dulcia nec maesto sustollens signa parenti 210

Sospitem Erechtheum se ostendit visere portum.

Namque ferunt olim, castae cum moenia divae

Linquentem gnatum ventis concrederet Aegeus,

Talia conplexum iuveni mandata dedisse.

‘Gnate, mihi longa iocundior unice vita, 215

Reddite in extrema nuper mihi fine senectae, 217

Gnate, ego quem in dubios cogor dimittere casus, 216

Quandoquidem fortuna mea ac tua fervida virtus

Eripit invito mihi te, cui languida nondum

Lumina sunt gnati cara saturata figura: 220

Non ego te gaudens laetanti pectore mittam,

Nec te ferre sinam fortunae signa secundae,

Sed primum multas expromam mente querellas,

Canitiem terra atque infuso pulvere foedans,

Inde infecta vago suspendam lintea malo, 225

Nostros ut luctus nostraeque incendia mentis

Carbasus obscurata decet ferrugine Hibera.

Quod tibi si sancti concesserit incola Itoni,

Quae nostrum genus ac sedes defendere Erechthei

Adnuit, ut tauri respergas sanguine dextram, 230

Tum vero facito ut memori tibi condita corde

Haec vigeant mandata, nec ulla oblitteret aetas,

Vt simulac nostros invisent lumina colles,

Funestam antennae deponant undique vestem,

Candidaque intorti sustollant vela rudentes, 235

Lucida qua splendent summi carchesia mali, 235b

Quam primum cernens ut laeta gaudia mente

Agnoscam, cum te reducem aetas prospera sistet.’

Haec mandata prius constanti mente tenentem

Thesea ceu pulsae ventorum flamine nubes

Aerium nivei montis liquere cacumen. 240

At pater, ut summa prospectum ex arce petebat,

Anxia in adsiduos absumens lumina fletus,

Cum primum infecti conspexit lintea veli,

Praecipitem sese scopulorum e vertice iecit,

Amissum credens inmiti Thesea fato. 245

Sic funesta domus ingressus tecta paterna

Morte ferox Theseus qualem Minoidi luctum

Obtulerat mente inmemori talem ipse recepit.

Quae tamen aspectans cedentem maesta carinam

Multiplices animo volvebat saucia curas. 250

At parte ex alia florens volitabat Iacchus

Cum thiaso Satyrorum et Nysigenis Silenis,

Te quaerens, Ariadna, tuoque incensus amore.


Quae tum alacres passim lymphata mente furebant

Euhoe bacchantes, euhoe capita inflectentes. 255

Harum pars tecta quatiebant cuspide thyrsos,

Pars e divolso iactabant membra iuvenco,

Pars sese tortis serpentibus incingebant,

Pars obscura cavis celebrabant orgia cistis,

Orgia, quae frustra cupiunt audire profani, 260

Plangebant aliae proceris tympana palmis

Aut tereti tenues tinnitus aere ciebant,

Multis raucisonos efflabant cornua bombos

Barbaraque horribili stridebat tibia cantu.

Talibus amplifice vestis decorata figuris 265

Pulvinar conplexa suo velabat amictu.

Quae postquam cupide spectando Thessala pubes

Expletast, sanctis coepit decedere divis.

Hic, qualis flatu placidum mare matutino

Horrificans Zephyrus proclivas incitat undas 270

Aurora exoriente vagi sub limina Solis,

Quae tarde primum clementi flamine pulsae

Procedunt (leni resonant plangore cachinni),

Post vento crescente magis magis increbescunt

Purpureaque procul nantes a luce refulgent, 275

Sic ibi vestibuli linquentes regia tecta

Ad se quisque vago passim pede discedebant.

Quorum post abitum princeps e vertice Pelei

Advenit Chiron portans silvestria dona:

Nam quoscumque ferunt campi, quos Thessala magnis 280

Montibus ora creat, quos propter fluminis undas

Aura parit flores tepidi fecunda Favoni,

Hos indistinctis plexos tulit ipse corollis,

Quo permulsa domus iocundo risit odore.

Confestim Penios adest, viridantia Tempe, 285

Tempe, quae silvae cingunt super inpendentes,

+ Minosim linquens crebris celebranda choreis,

Non vacuos: namque ille tulit radicitus altas

Fagos ac recto proceras stipite laurus,

Non sine nutanti platano lentaque sorore 290

Flammati Phaethontis et aeria cupressu.

Haec circum sedes late contexta locavit,

Vestibulum ut molli velatum fronde vireret.

Post hunc consequitur sollerti corde Prometheus,

Extenuata gerens veteris vestigia poenae, 295

Quam quondam scythicis restrictus membra catena

Persolvit pendens e verticibus praeruptis.

Inde pater divom sancta cum coniuge natisque

Advenit caelo, te solum, Phoebe, relinquens

Vnigenamque simul cultricem montibus Idri: 300

Pelea nam tecum pariter soror aspernatast

Nec Thetidis taedas voluit celebrare iugalis,

Qui postquam niveis flexerunt sedibus artus,

Large multiplici constructae sunt dape mensae,

Cum interea infirmo quatientes corpora motu 305

Veridicos Parcae coeperunt edere cantus.

His corpus tremulum conplectens undique vestis

Candida purpurea talos incinxerat ora,

Annoso niveae residebant vertice vittae,

Aeternumque manus carpebant rite laborem. 310

Laeva colum molli lana retinebat amictum,

Dextera tum leviter deducens fila supinis

Formabat digitis, tum prono in pollice torquens

Libratum tereti versabat turbine fusum,

Atque ita decerpens aequabat semper opus dens, 315

Laneaque aridulis haerebant morsa labellis,

Quae prius in levi fuerant extantia filo:

Ante pedes autem candentis mollia lanae

Vellera virgati custodibant calathisci.

Haec tum clarisona pectentes vellera voce 320

Talia divino fuderunt carmine fata,

Carmine, perfidiae quod post nulla arguet aetas.

O decus eximium magnis virtutibus augens,

Emathiae tutamen opis, clarissime nato,

Accipe, quod laeta tibi pandunt luce sorores, 325

Veridicum oraclum. sed vos, quae fata sequuntur,

Currite ducentes subtegmina, currite, fusi.

Adveniet tibi iam portans optata maritis

Hesperus, adveniet fausto cum sidere coniunx,

Quae tibi flexanimo mentem perfundat amore 330

Languidulosque paret tecum coniungere somnos,

Levia substernens robusto brachia collo.

Currite ducentes subtegmina, currite, fusi.

Nulla domus tales umquam conexit amores,

Nullus amor tali coniunxit foedere amantes, 335

Qualis adest Thetidi, qualis concordia Peleo.

Currite ducentes subtegmina, currite, fusi.

Nascetur vobis expers terroris Achilles,

Hostibus haud tergo, sed forti pectore notus,

Quae persaepe vago victor certamine cursus 340

Flammea praevertet celeris vestigia cervae.

Currite ducentes subtegmina, currite, fusi.

Non illi quisquam bello se conferet heros,

Cum Phrygii Teucro manabunt sanguine + tenen,

Troicaque obsidens longinquo moenia bello 345

Periuri Pelopis vastabit tertius heres.

Currite ducentes subtegmina, currite, fusi.

Illius egregias virtutes claraque facta

Saepe fatebuntur gnatorum in funere matres,

Cum in cinerem canos solvent a vertice crines 350

Putridaque infirmis variabunt pectora palmis.

Currite ducentes subtegmina, currite, fusi.

Namque velut densas praecerpens cultor aristas

Sole sub ardenti flaventia demetit arva,

Troiugenum infesto prosternet corpora ferro. 355

Currite ducentes subtegmina, currite, fusi.

Testis erit magnis virtutibus unda Scamandri,

Quae passim rapido diffunditur Hellesponto,

Cuius iter caesis angustans corporum acervis

Alta tepefaciet permixta flumina caede. 360

Currite ducentes subtegmina, currite, fusi.

Denique testis erit morti quoque reddita praeda,

Cum terrae ex celso coacervatum aggere bustum

Excipiet niveos percussae virginis artus.

Currite ducentes subtegmina, currite, fusi. 365

Nam simul ac fessis dederit fors copiam Achivis

Vrbis Dardaniae Neptunia solvere vincla,

Alta Polyxenia madefient caede sepulcra,

Quae, velut ancipiti succumbens victima ferro,

Proiciet truncum submisso poplite corpus. 370

Currite ducentes subtegmina, currite, fusi.

Quare agite optatos animi coniungite amores.

Accipiat coniunx felici foedere divam,

Dedatur cupido iandudum nupta marito.

Currite ducentes subtegmina, currite, fusi. 375

Non illam nutrix orienti luce revisens

Hesterno collum poterit circumdare filo,

[Currite ducentes subtegmina, currite, fusi]

Anxia nec mater discordis maesta puellae

Secubitu caros mittet sperare nepotes. 380

Currite ducentes subtegmina, currite, fusi.

Talia praefantes quondam felicia Pelei

Carmina divino cecinerunt pectore Parcae.

Praesentes namque ante domos invisere castas

Heroum et sese mortali ostendere coetu 385

Caelicolae nondum spreta pietate solebant.

Saepe pater divom templo in fulgente residens,

Annua cum festis venissent sacra diebus,

Conspexit terra centum procumbere tauros.

Saepe vagus Liber Parnasi vertice summo 390

Thyiadas effusis euhantes crinibus egit.


Cum Delphi tota certatim ex urbe ruentes

Acciperent laeti divom fumantibus aris.

Saepe in letifero belli certamine Mavors

Aut rapidi Tritonis era aut Rhamnusia virgo 395

Armatas hominumst praesens hortata catervas.

Sed postquam tellus scelerest imbuta nefando,

Iustitiamque omnes cupida de mente fugarunt,

Perfudere manus fraterno sanguine fratres,

Destitit extinctos natus lugere parentes, 400

Optavit genitor primaevi funera nati,

Liber ut innuptae poteretur flore novercae,

Ignaro mater substernens se inpia nato

Inpia non veritast divos scelerare penates:

Omnia fanda nefanda malo permixta furore 405

Iustificam nobis mentem avertere deorum.

Quare nec tales dignantur visere coetus,

Nec se contingi patiuntur lumine claro.

lxiiii.

Marriage of Peleus and Thetis.

(Fragment of an Epos.)

Pine-trees gendered whilòme upon soaring Peliac summit

Swam (as the tale is told) through liquid surges of Neptune

Far as the Phasis-flood and frontier-land Æëtéan;

Whenas the youths elect, of Argive vigour the oak-heart,

Longing the Golden Fleece of the Colchis-region to harry, 5

Dared in a poop swift-paced to span salt seas and their shallows,

Sweeping the deep blue seas with sweeps a-carven of fir-wood.

She, that governing Goddess of citadels crowning the cities,

Builded herself their car fast-flitting with lightest of breezes,

Weaving plants of the pine conjoined in curve of the kelson; 10

Foremost of all to imbue rude Amphitrité with ship-lore.

Soon as her beak had burst through wind-rackt spaces of ocean,

While th’oar-tortured wave with spumy whiteness was blanching,

Surged from the deep abyss and hoar-capped billows the faces

Seaborn, Nereids eyeing the prodigy wonder-smitten. 15

There too mortal orbs through softened spendours regarded

Ocean-nymphs who exposed bodies denuded of raiment

Bare to the breast upthrust from hoar froth capping the sea-depths.

Then Thetis Péleus fired (men say) a-sudden with love-lowe,

Then Thetis nowise spurned to mate and marry wi’ mortal, 20

Then Thetis’ Sire himself her yoke with Peleus sanctioned.

Oh, in those happier days now fondly yearned-for, ye heroes

Born; (all hail!) of the Gods begotten, and excellent issue

Bred by your mothers, all hail! and placid deal me your favour.

Oft wi’ the sound of me, in strains and spells I’ll invoke you;

Thee too by wedding-torch so happily, highly augmented, 25

Peleus, Thessaly’s ward, whomunto Jupiter’s self deigned

Yield of the freest gree his loves though gotten of Godheads.

Thee Thetis, fairest of maids Nereian, vouchsafed to marry?

Thee did Tethys empower to woo and wed with her grandchild;

Nor less Oceanus, with water compassing th’ Earth-globe? 30

But when ended the term, and wisht-for light of the day-tide

Uprose, flocks to the house in concourse mighty convenèd,

Thessaly all, with glad assembly the Palace fulfilling:

Presents afore they bring, and joy in faces declare they.

Scyros desert abides: they quit Phthiotican Tempe, 35

Homesteads of Crannon-town, eke bulwarkt walls of Larissa;

Meeting at Pharsálus, and roof Pharsálian seeking.

None will the fields now till; soft wax all necks of the oxen,

Never the humble vine is purged by curve of the rake-tooth,

Never a pruner’s hook thins out the shade of the tree-tufts, 41

Never a bull up-plows broad glebe with bend of the coulter, 40

Over whose point unuse displays the squalor of rust-stain.

But in the homestead’s heart, where’er that opulent palace

Hides a retreat, all shines with splendour of gold and of silver.

Ivory blanches the seats, bright gleam the flagons a-table, 45

All of the mansion joys in royal riches and grandeur.

But for the Diva’s use bestrewn is the genial bedstead,

Hidden in midmost stead, and its polisht framework of Indian

Tusk underlies its cloth empurpled by juice of the dye-shell.

This be a figured cloth with forms of manhood primeval 50

Showing by marvel-art the gifts and graces of heroes.

Here upon Dia’s strand wave-resonant, ever-regarding

Theseus borne from sight outside by fleet of the fleetest,

Stands Ariadne with heart full-filled with furies unbated,

Nor can her sense as yet believe she ‘spies the espied, 55

When like one that awakes new roused from slumber deceptive,

Sees she her hapless self lone left on loneliest sandbank:

While as the mindless youth with oars disturbeth the shallows,

Casts to the windy storms what vows he vainly had vowèd.

Him through the sedges afar the sad-eyed maiden of Minos, 60

Likest a Bacchant-girl stone-carven, (O her sorrow!)

‘Spies, a-tossing the while on sorest billows of love-care.

Now no more on her blood-hued hair fine fillets retains she,

No more now light veil conceals her bosom erst hidden,

Now no more smooth zone contains her milky-hued paplets: 65

All gear dropping adown from every part of her person

Thrown, lie fronting her feet to the briny wavelets a sea-toy.

But at such now no more of her veil or her fillet a-floating

Had she regard: on thee, O Theseus! all of her heart-strength,

All of her sprite, her mind, forlorn, were evermore hanging. 70

Ah, sad soul, by grief and grievance driven beside thee,

Sowed Erycína first those brambly cares in thy bosom,

What while issuing fierce with will enstarkenèd, Theseus

Forth from the bow-bent shore Piræan putting a-seawards

Reacht the Gortynian roofs where dwelt th’ injurious Monarch. 75

For ’twas told of yore how forced by pestilence cruel,

Eke as a blood rite due for th’ Androgéonian murthur,

Many a chosen youth and the bloom of damsels unmarried

Food for the Minotaur, Cecropia was wont to befurnish.

Seeing his narrow walls in such wise vexed with evils, 80

Theseus of freest will for dear-loved Athens his body

Offered a victim so that no more to Crete be deported

Lives by Cecropia doomed to burials burying nowise;

Then with a swifty ship and soft breathed breezes a-stirring,

Sought he Minos the Haughty where homed in proudest of Mansions. 85

Him as with yearning glance forthright espièd the royal

Maiden, whom pure chaste couch aspiring delicate odours

Cherisht, in soft embrace of a mother comforted all-whiles,

(E’en as the myrtles begot by the flowing floods of Eurotas,

Or as the tincts distinct brought forth by breath of the springtide) 90

Never the burning lights of her eyes from gazing upon him

Turned she, before fierce flame in all her body conceived she

Down in its deepest depths and burning amiddle her marrow.

Ah, with unmitigate heart exciting wretchedmost furies,

Thou, Boy sacrosanct! man’s grief and gladness commingling, 95

Thou too of Golgos Queen and Lady of leafy Idalium,

Whelm’d ye in what manner waves that maiden phantasy-firèd,

All for a blond-haired youth suspiring many a singulf!

Whiles how dire was the dread she dreed in languishing heart-strings;

How yet more, ever more, with golden splendour she palèd! 100

Whenas yearning to mate his might wi’ the furious monster

Theseus braved his death or sought the prizes of praises.

Then of her gifts to gods not ingrate, nor profiting naught,

Promise with silent lip, addressed she timidly vowing.

For as an oak that shakes on topmost summit of Taurus 105

Its boughs, or cone-growing pine from bole bark resin exuding,

Whirlwind of passing might that twists the stems with its storm-blasts,

Uproots, deracinates, forthright its trunk to the farthest,

Prone falls, shattering wide what lies in line of its downfall —

Thus was that wildling flung by Theseus and vanquisht of body, 110

Vainly tossing its horns and goring the wind to no purpose.

Thence with abounding praise returned he, guiding his footsteps,

Whiles did a fine drawn thread check steps in wander abounding,

Lest when issuing forth of the winding maze labyrinthine

Baffled become his track by inobservable error. 115

But for what cause should I, from early subject digressing,

Tell of the daughter who the face of her sire unseeing,

Eke her sister’s embrace nor less her mother’s endearments,

Who in despair bewept her hapless child that so gladly

Chose before every and each the lively wooing of Theseus? 120

Or how borne by the ship to the yeasting shore-line of Dia

Came she? or how when bound her eyes in bondage of slumber

Left her that chosen mate with mind unmindful departing?

Often (they tell) with heart inflamed by fiery fury

Poured she shrilling of shrieks from deepest depths of her bosom; 125

Now she would sadly scale the broken faces of mountains,

Whence she might overglance the boundless boiling of billows,

Then she would rush to bestem the salt-plain’s quivering wavelet

And from her ankles bare the dainty garment uplifting,

Spake she these words (’tis said) from sorrow’s deepest abysses, 130

Whiles from her tear-drencht face outburst cold shivering singulfs.

“Thus fro’ my patrial shore, O traitor, hurried to exile,

Me on a lonely strand hast left, perfidious Theseus?

Thus wise farest, despite the godhead of Deities spurned,

(Reckless, alas!) to thy home convoying perjury-curses? 135

Naught, then, ever availed that mind of cruelest counsel

Alter? No saving grace in thee was evermore ready,

That to have pity on me vouchsafed thy pitiless bosom?

Natheless not in past time such were the promises wordy

Lavishèd; nor such hopes to me the hapless were bidden; 140

But the glad married joys, the longed-for pleasures of wedlock.

All now empty and vain, by breath of the breezes bescattered!

Now, let woman no more trust her to man when he sweareth,

Ne’er let her hope to find or truth or faith in his pleadings,

Who whenas lustful thought forelooks to somewhat attaining, 145

Never an oath they fear, shall spare no promise to promise.

Yet no sooner they sate all lewdness and lecherous fancy,

Nothing remember of words and reck they naught of fore-swearing.

Certès, thee did I snatch from midmost whirlpool of ruin

Deadly, and held it cheap loss of a brother to suffer 150

Rather than fail thy need (O false!) at hour the supremest.

Therefor my limbs are doomed to be torn of birds, and of ferals

Prey, nor shall upheapt Earth afford a grave to my body.

Say me, what lioness bare thee ‘neath lone rock of the desert?

What sea spued thee conceived from out the spume of his surges! 155

What manner Syrt, what ravening Scylla, what vasty Charybdis?

Thou who for sweet life saved such meeds art lief of returning!

If never willed thy breast with me to mate thee in marriage,

Hating the savage law decreed by primitive parent,

Still of your competence ’twas within your household to home me, 160

Where I might serve as slave in gladsome service familiar,

Laving thy snow-white feet in clearest chrystalline waters

Or with its purpling gear thy couch in company strewing.

Yet for what cause should I ‘plain in vain to the winds that unknow me,

(I so beside me with grief!) which ne’er of senses enduèd 165

Hear not the words sent forth nor aught avail they to answer?

Now be his course well-nigh engaged in midway of ocean,

Nor any mortal shape appears in barrens of seawrack.

Thus at the latest hour with insults over-sufficient

E’en to my plaints fere Fate begrudges ears that would hear me. 170

Jupiter! Lord of All-might, Oh would in days that are bygone

Ne’er had Cecropian poops toucht ground at Gnossian foreshore,

Nor to th’ unconquered Bull that tribute direful conveying

Had the false Seaman bound to Cretan island his hawser,

Nor had yon evil wight, ‘neath shape the softest hard purpose 175

Hiding, enjoyed repose within our mansion beguested!

Whither can wend I now? What hope lends help to the lost one?

Idomenéan mounts shall I scale? Ah, parted by whirlpools

Widest, yon truculent main where yields it power of passage?

Aid of my sire can I crave? Whom I willing abandoned, 180

Treading in tracks of a youth bewrayed with blood of a brother!

Can I console my soul wi’ the helpful love of a helpmate

Who flies me with pliant oars, flies overbounding the sea-depths?

Nay, an this Coast I quit, this lone isle lends me no roof-tree,

Nor aught issue allows begirt by billows of Ocean: 185

Nowhere is path for flight: none hope shows: all things are silent:

All be a desolate waste: all makes display of destruction.

Yet never close these eyne in latest languor of dying,

Ne’er from my wearied frame go forth slow-ebbing my senses,

Ere from the Gods just doom implore I, treason-betrayed, 190

And with my breath supreme firm faith of Celestials invoke I.

Therefore, O ye who ‘venge man’s deed with penalties direful,

Eumenides! aye wont to bind with viperous hair-locks

Foreheads — Oh, deign outspeak fierce wrath from bosom outbreathing,

Hither, Oh hither, speed, and lend ye all ear to my grievance, 195

Which now sad I (alas!) outpour from innermost vitals

Maugre my will, sans help, blind, fired with furious madness.

And, as indeed all spring from veriest core of my bosom,

Suffer ye not the cause of grief and woe to evanish;

But wi’ the Will wherewith could Theseus leave me in loneness, 200

Goddesses! bid that Will lead him, lead his, to destruction.”

E’en as she thus poured forth these words from anguish of bosom,

And for this cruel deed, distracted, sued she for vengeance,

Nodded the Ruler of Gods Celestial, matchless of All-might,

When at the gest earth-plain and horrid spaces of ocean 205

Trembled, and every sphere rockt stars and planets resplendent.

Meanwhile Theseus himself, obscured in blindness of darkness

As to his mind, dismiss’d from breast oblivious all things

Erewhile enjoined and held hereto in memory constant,

Nor for his saddened sire the gladness-signals uphoisting 210

Heralded safe return within sight of the Erechthean harbour.

For ’twas told of yore, when from walls of the Virginal Deëss

Ægeus speeding his son, to the care of breezes committed,

Thus with a last embrace to the youth spake words of commandment:

“Son! far nearer my heart (sole thou) than life of the longest, 215

Son, I perforce dismiss to doubtful, dangerous chances,

Lately restored to me when eld draws nearest his ending,

Sithence such fortune in me, and in thee such boiling of valour

Tear thee away from me so loath, whose eyne in their languor

Never are sated with sight of my son, all-dearest of figures. 220

Nor will I send thee forth with joy that gladdens my bosom,

Nor will I suffer thee show boon signs of favouring Fortune,

But fro’ my soul I’ll first express an issue of sorrow,

Soiling my hoary hairs with dust and ashes commingled;

Then will I hang stained sails fast-made to the wavering yard-arms, 225

So shall our mourning thought and burning torture of spirit

Show by the dark sombre-dye of Iberian canvas spread.

But, an grant me the grace Who dwells in Sacred Itone,

(And our issue to guard and ward the seats of Erechtheus

Sware She) that be thy right besprent with blood of the Man–Bull, 230

Then do thou so-wise act, and storèd in memory’s heart-core

Dwell these mandates of me, no time their traces untracing.

Dip, when first shall arise our hills to gladden thy eye-glance,

Down from thine every mast th’ill-omened vestments of mourning,

Then let the twisten ropes upheave the whitest of canvas, 235

Wherewith splendid shall gleam the tallest spars of the top-mast, 235b

These seeing sans delay with joy exalting my spirit

Well shall I wot boon Time sets thee returning before me.”

Such were the mandates which stored at first in memory constant

Faded from Theseus’ mind like mists, compelled by the whirlwind,

Fleet from äerial crests of mountains hoary with snow-drifts. 240

But as the sire had sought the citadel’s summit for outlook,

Wasting his anxious eyes with tear-floods evermore flowing,

Forthright e’en as he saw the sail-gear darkened with dye-stain,

Headlong himself flung he from the sea-cliff’s pinnacled summit

Holding his Theseus lost by doom of pitiless Fortune. 245

Thus as he came to the home funest, his roof-tree paternal,

Theseus (vaunting the death), what dule to the maiden of Minos

Dealt with unminding mind so dree’d he similar dolour.

She too gazing in grief at the kelson vanishing slowly,

Self-wrapt, manifold cares revolved, in spirit perturbèd. 250


ON ANOTHER PART OF THE COVERLET.

But fro’ the further side came flitting bright-faced Iacchus

Girded by Satyr-crew and Nysa-rearèd Sileni

Burning wi’ love unto thee (Ariadne!) and greeting thy presence.


Who flocking eager to fray did rave with infuriate spirit,

“Evoë” phrensying loud, with heads at “Evoë” rolling. 255

Brandisht some of the maids their thyrsi sheathèd of spear-point,

Some snatcht limbs and joints of sturlings rended to pieces,

These girt necks and waists with writhing bodies of vipers,

Those wi’ the gear enwombed in crates dark orgies ordainèd —

Orgies that ears prophane must vainly lust for o’er hearing — 260

Others with palms on high smote hurried strokes on the cymbal,

Or from the polisht brass woke thin-toned tinkling music,

While from the many there boomed and blared hoarse blast of the

horn-trump,

And with its horrid skirl loud shrilled the barbarous bag-pipe,

Showing such varied forms, that richly-decorate couch-cloth 265

Folded in strait embrace the bedding drapery-veilèd.

This when the Théssalan youths had eyed with eager inspection

Fulfilled, place they began to provide for venerate Godheads,

Even as Zephyrus’ breath, seas couching placid at dawn-tide,

Roughens, then stings and spurs the wavelets slantingly fretted — 270

Rising Aurora the while ‘neath Sol the wanderer’s threshold —

Tardy at first they flow by the clement breathing of breezes

Urgèd, and echo the shores with soft-toned ripples of laughter,

But as the winds wax high so waves wax higher and higher,

Flashing and floating afar to outswim morn’s purpurine splendours — 275

So did the crowd fare forth, the royal vestibule leaving,

And to their house each wight with vaguing paces departed.

After their wending, the first, foremost from Pelion’s summit,

Chiron came to the front with woodland presents surchargèd:

Whatso of blooms and flowers bring forth Thessalian uplands 280

Mighty with mountain crests, whate’er of riverine lea flowers

Reareth Favonius’ air, bud-breeding, tepidly breathing,

All in his hands brought he, unseparate in woven garlands,

Whereat laughèd the house as soothed by pleasure of perfume.

Presently Péneus appears, deserting verdurous Tempe — 285

Tempe girt by her belts of greenwood ever impending,

Left for the Mamonides with frequent dances to worship —

Nor is he empty of hand, for bears he tallest of beeches

Deracinate, and bays with straight boles lofty and stately,

Not without nodding plane-tree nor less the flexible sister 290

Fire-slain Phaëton left, and not without cypresses airy.

These in a line wide-broke set he, the Mansion surrounding,

So by the soft leaves screened, the porch might flourish in verdure.

Follows hard on his track with active spirit Prometheus,

Bearing extenuate sign of penalties suffer’d in bygones. 295

Paid erewhiles what time fast-bound as to every member,

Hung he in carkanet slung from the Scythian rock-tor.

Last did the Father of Gods with his sacred spouse and his offspring,

Proud from the Heavens proceed, thee leaving (Phoebus) in loneness,

Lone wi’ thy sister twin who haunteth mountains of Idrus: 300

For that the Virgin spurned as thou the person of Peleus,

Nor Thetis’ nuptial torch would greet by act of her presence.

When they had leaned their limbs upon snowy benches reposing,

Tables largely arranged with various viands were garnisht.

But, ere opened the feast, with infirm gesture their semblance 305

Shaking, the Parcae fell to chaunting veridique verses.

Robed were their tremulous frames all o’er in muffle of garments

Bright-white, purple of hem enfolding heels in its edges;

Snowy the fillets that bound heads agèd by many a year-tide,

And, as their wont aye was, their hands plied labour unceasing. 310

Each in her left upheld with soft fleece clothèd a distaff,

Then did the right that drew forth thread with upturn of fingers

Gently fashion the yarn which deftly twisted by thumb-ball

Speeded the spindle poised by thread-whorl perfect of polish;

Thus as the work was wrought, the lengths were trimmed wi’ the

fore-teeth, 315

While to their thin, dry lips stuck wool-flecks severed by biting,

Which at the first outstood from yarn-hanks evenly fine-drawn.

Still at their feet in front soft fleece-flecks white as the snow-flake

Lay in the trusty guard of wickers woven in withies.

Always a-carding the wool, with clear-toned voices resounding 320

Told they such lots as these in song divinely directed,

Chaunts which none after-time shall ‘stablish falsehood-convicted.

1.

O who by virtues great all highmost honours enhancest,

Guard of Emáthia-land, most famous made by thine offspring,

Take what the Sisters deign this gladsome day to disclose thee, 325

Oracles soothfast told — And ye, by Destiny followed,

Speed ye, the well-spun woof out-drawing, speed ye, O Spindles.

2.

Soon to thy sight shall rise, their fond hopes bringing to bridegrooms,

Hesperus: soon shall come thy spouse with planet auspicious,

Who shall thy mind enbathe with a love that softens the spirit, 330

And as thyself shall prepare for sinking in languorous slumber,

Under thy neck robust, soft arms dispreading as pillow.

Speed ye, the well-spun woof out-drawing, speed ye, O Spindles.

3.

Never a house like this such loves as these hath united,

Never did love conjoin by such-like covenant lovers, 335

As th’according tie Thetis deigned in concert wi’ Peleus.

Speed ye, the well-spun woof out-drawing, speed ye, O Spindles.

4.

Born of yon twain shall come Achilles guiltless of fear-sense,

Known by his forceful breast and ne’er by back to the foeman,

Who shall at times full oft in doubtful contest of race-course 340

Conquer the fleet-foot doe with slot-tracks smoking and burning.

Speed ye, the well-spun woof out-drawing, speed ye, O Spindles.

5.

None shall with him compare, howe’er war-doughty a hero,

Whenas the Phrygian rills flow deep with bloodshed of Teucer,

And beleaguering the walls of Troy with longest of warfare 345

He shall the works lay low, third heir of Pelops the perjured.

Speed ye, the well-spun woof out-drawing, speed ye, O Spindles.

6.

His be the derring-do and deeds of valour egregious,

Often mothers shall own at funeral-rites of their children,

What time their hoary hairs from head in ashes are loosened, 350

And wi’ their hands infirm they smite their bosoms loose duggèd.

Speed ye, the well-spun woof out-drawing, speed ye, O Spindles.

7.

For as the toiling hind bestrewing denseness of corn-stalks

Under the broiling sun mows grain-fields yellow to harvest,

So shall his baneful brand strew earth with corpses of Troy-born. 355

Speed ye, the well-spun woof out-drawing, speed ye, O Spindles.

8.

Aye to his valorous worth attest shall wave of Scamander

Which unto Hellé-Sea fast flowing ever dischargeth,

Straiter whose course shall grow by up-heaped barrage of corpses,

While in his depths runs warm his stream with slaughter commingled. 360

Speed ye, the well-spun woof out-drawing, speed ye, O Spindles.

9.

Witness in fine shall be the victim rendered to death-stroke,

Whenas the earthern tomb on lofty tumulus builded

Shall of the stricken maid receive limbs white as the snow-flake.

Speed ye, the well-spun woof out-drawing, speed ye, O Spindles. 365

10.

For when at last shall Fors to weary Achaians her fiat

Deal, of Dardanus-town to burst Neptunian fetters,

Then shall the high-reared tomb stand bathed with Polyxena’s life-blood,

Who, as the victim doomed to fall by the double-edged falchion,

Forward wi’ hams relaxt shall smite a body beheaded. 370

Speed ye, the well-spun woof out-drawing, speed ye, O Spindles.

11.

Wherefore arise, ye pair, conjoin loves ardently longed-for,

Now doth the groom receive with happiest omen his goddess,

Now let the bride at length to her yearning spouse be delivered.

Speed ye, the well-spun woof out-drawing, speed ye, O Spindles. 375

12.

Neither the nurse who comes at dawn to visit her nursling

E’er shall avail her neck to begird with yesterday’s ribband.

[Speed ye, the well-spun woof out-drawing, speed ye, O spindles.]

Nor shall the mother’s soul for ill-matcht daughter a-grieving

Lose by a parted couch all hopes of favourite grandsons. 380

Speed ye, the well-spun woof out-drawing, speed ye, O Spindles.

Thus in the bygone day Peleus’ fate foretelling

Chaunted from breasts divine prophetic verse the Parcae.

For that the pure chaste homes of heroes to visit in person

Oft-tide the Gods, and themselves to display where mortals were gathered, 385

Wont were the Heavenlies while none human piety spurned.

Often the Deities’ Sire, in fulgent temple a-dwelling,

Whenas in festal days received he his annual worship,

Looked upon hundreds of bulls felled prone on pavement before him.

Full oft Liber who roamed from topmost peak of Parnassus 390

Hunted his howling host, his Thyiads with tresses dishevelled.


Then with contending troops from all their city outflocking

Gladly the Delphians hailed their God with smoking of altars.

Often in death-full war and bravest of battle, or Mavors

Or rapid Triton’s Queen or eke the Virgin Rhamnusian, 395

Bevies of weaponed men exhorting, provèd their presence.

But from the time when earth was stained with unspeakable scandals

And forth fro’ greeding breasts of all men justice departed,

Then did the brother drench his hands in brotherly bloodshed,

Stinted the son in heart to mourn decease of his parents, 400

Longèd the sire to sight his first-born’s funeral convoy

So more freely the flower of step-dame-maiden to rifle;

After that impious Queen her guiltless son underlying,

Impious, the household gods with crime ne’er dreading to sully —

All things fair and nefand being mixt in fury of evil 405

Turned from ourselves avert the great goodwill of the Godheads.

Wherefor they nowise deign our human assemblies to visit,

Nor do they suffer themselves be met in light of the day-tide.

Pines aforetimes sprung from Pelion peak floated, so ’tis said, through liquid billows of Neptune to the flowing Phasis and the confines Aeetaean, when the picked youth, the vigour of Argive manhood seeking to carry away the Golden Fleece from Colchis, dared to skim o’er salt seas in a swift-sailing ship, sweeping caerulean ocean with paddles shapen from fir-wood. That Goddess who guards the castles in topmost parts of the towns herself fashioned the car, scudding with lightest of winds, uniting the interweaved pines unto the curving keel. That same first instructed untaught Amphitrite with sailing. Scarce had it split with its stem the windy waves, and the billow vext with oars had whitened into foam, when arose from the abyss of the hoary eddies the faces of sea-dwelling Nereids wondering at the marvel. And then on that propitious day mortal eyes gazed on sea-nymphs with naked bodies bare to the breasts outstanding from the foamy abyss. Then ’tis said Peleus burned with desire for Thetis, then Thetis contemned not mortal hymenaeals, then Thetis’ sire himself sanctioned her joining to Peleus. O born in the time of joyfuller ages, heroes, hail! sprung from the gods, good progeny of mothers, hail! and favourably be ye inclined. You oft in my song I’ll address, thee too I’ll approach, Peleus, pillar of Thessaly, so increased in importance by thy fortunate wedding-torches, to whom Jupiter himself, the sire of the gods himself, yielded up his beloved. Did not Thetis embrace thee, she most winsome of Nereids born? Did not Tethys consent that thou should’st lead home her grandchild, and Oceanus eke, whose waters girdle the total globe? When in full course of time the longed-for day had dawned, all Thessaly assembled throngs his home, a gladsome company o’erspreading the halls: they bear gifts to the fore, and their joy in their faces they shew. Scyros desert remains, they leave Phthiotic Tempe, Crannon’s homes, and the fortressed walls of Larissa; to Pharsalia they hie, ‘neath Pharsalian roofs they gather. None tills the soil, the heifers’ necks grow softened, the trailing vine is not cleansed by the curved rake-prongs, nor does the sickle prune the shade of the spreading tree-branches, nor does the bullock up-tear the glebe with the prone-bending ploughshare; squalid rust steals o’er the neglected ploughs.

But this mansion, throughout its innermost recesses of opulent royalty, glitters with gleaming gold and with silver. Ivory makes white the seats; goblets glint on the boards; the whole house delights in the splendour of royal treasure. Placed in the midst of the mansion is the bridal bed of the goddess, made glossy with Indian tusks and covered with purple, tinted with the shell-fish’s rosy dye. This tapestry embroidered with figures of men of ancient time pourtrays with admirable art the heroes’ valour. For looking forth from Dia’s beach, resounding with crashing of breakers, Theseus hasting from sight with swiftest of fleets, Ariadne watches, her heart swelling with raging passion, nor scarce yet credits she sees what she sees, as, newly-awakened from her deceptive sleep, she perceives herself, deserted and woeful, on the lonely shore. But the heedless youth, flying away, beats the waves with his oars, leaving his perjured vows to the gusty gales. In the dim distance from amidst the sea-weed, the daughter of Minos with sorrowful eyes, like a stone-carved Bacchante, gazes afar, alas! gazes after him, heaving with great waves of grief. No longer does the fragile fillet bind her yellow locks, no more with light veil is her hidden bosom covered, no more with rounded zone the milky breasts are clasped; down fallen from her body everything is scattered, hither, thither, and the salt waves toy with them in front of her very feet. But neither on fillet nor floating veil, but on thee, Theseus, in their stead, was she musing: on thee she bent her heart, her thoughts, her love-lorn mind. Ah, woeful one, with sorrows unending distraught, Erycina sows thorny cares deep in thy bosom, since that time when Theseus fierce in his vigour set out from the curved bay of Piraeus, and gained the Gortynian roofs of the iniquitous ruler.

For of old ’tis narrated, that constrained by plague of the cruelest to expiate the slaughter of Androgeos, both chosen youths and the pick of the unmarried maidens Cecropia was wont to give as a feast to the Minotaur. When thus his strait walls with ills were vexed, Theseus with free will preferred to yield up his body for adored Athens rather than such Cecropian corpses be carried to Crete unobsequied. And therefore borne in a speedy craft by favouring breezes, he came to the imperious Minos and his superb seat. Instant the royal virgin him saw with longing glance, she whom the chaste couch out-breathing sweetest of scents cradled in her mother’s tender enfoldings, like to the myrtle which the rivers of Eurotas produce, or the many-tinted blooms opening with the springtide’s breezes, she bent not down away from him her kindling glance, until the flame spread through her whole body, and burned into her innermost marrow. Ah, hard of heart, urging with misery to madness, O holy boy, who mingles men’s cares and their joyings, and thou queen of Golgos and of foliaged Idalium, on what waves did you heave the mind-kindled maid, sighing full oft for the golden-haired guest! What dreads she bore in her swooning soul! How often did she grow sallower in sheen than gold! When craving to contend against the savage monster Theseus faced death or the palm of praise. Then gifts to the gods not unmeet not idly given, with promise from tight-closed lips did she address her vows. For as an oak waving its boughs on Taurus’ top, or a coniferous pine with sweating stem, is uprooted by savage storm, twisting its trunk with its blast (dragged from its roots prone it falleth afar, breaking all in the line of its fall) so did Theseus fling down the conquered body of the brute, tossing its horns in vain towards the skies. Thence backwards he retraced his steps ‘midst great laud, guiding his errant footsteps by means of a tenuous thread, lest when outcoming from tortuous labyrinthines his efforts be frustrated by unobservant wandering. But why, turned aside from my first story, should I recount more, how the daughter fleeing her father’s face, her sister’s embrace, and e’en her mother’s, who despairingly bemoaned her lost daughter, preferred to all these the sweet love of Theseus; or how borne by their boat to the spumy shores of Dia she came; or how her yokeman with unmemoried breast forsaking her, left her bound in the shadows of sleep? And oft, so ’tis said, with her heart burning with fury she outpoured clarion cries from depths of her bosom, then sadly scaled the rugged mounts, whence she could cast her glance o’er the vasty seething ocean, then ran into the opposing billows of the heaving sea, raising from her bared legs her clinging raiment, and in uttermost plight of woe with tear-stained face and chilly sobs spake she thus:—

“Is it thus, O perfidious, when dragged from my motherland’s shores, is it thus, O false Theseus, that thou leavest me on this desolate strand? thus dost depart unmindful of slighted godheads, bearing home thy perjured vows? Was no thought able to bend the intent of thy ruthless mind? hadst thou no clemency there, that thy pitiless bowels might compassionate me? But these were not the promises thou gavest me idly of old, this was not what thou didst bid me hope for, but the blithe bride-bed, hymenaeal happiness: all empty air, blown away by the breezes. Now, now, let no woman give credence to man’s oath, let none hope for faithful vows from mankind; for whilst their eager desire strives for its end, nothing fear they to swear, nothing of promises stint they: but instant their lusting thoughts are satiate with lewdness, nothing of speech they remember, nothing of perjuries reck. In truth I snatched thee from the midst of the whirlpool of death, preferring to suffer the loss of a brother rather than fail thy need in the supreme hour, O ingrate. For the which I shall be a gift as prey to be rent by wild beasts and the carrion-fowl, nor dead shall I be placed in the earth, covered with funeral mound. What lioness bare thee ‘neath lonely crag? What sea conceived and spued thee from its foamy crest? What Syrtis, what grasping Scylla, what vast Charybdis? O thou repayer with such guerdon for thy sweet life! If ’twas not thy heart’s wish to yoke with me, through holding in horror the dread decrees of my stern sire, yet thou couldst have led me to thy home, where as thine handmaid I might have served thee with cheerful service, laving thy snowy feet with clear water, or spreading the purple coverlet o’er thy couch. Yet why, distraught with woe, do I vainly lament to the unknowing winds, which unfurnished with sense, can neither hear uttered complaints nor can return them? For now he has sped away into the midst of the seas, nor doth any mortal appear along this desolate seaboard. Thus with o’erweening scorn doth bitter Fate in my extreme hour even grudge ears to my plaints. All-powerful Jupiter! would that in old time the Cecropian poops had not touched at the Gnossian shores, nor that bearing to the unquelled bull the direful ransom had the false mariner moored his hawser to Crete, nor that yon wretch hiding ruthless designs beneath sweet seemings had reposed as a guest in our halls! For whither may I flee? in what hope, O lost one, take refuge? Shall I climb the Idomenean crags? but the truculent sea stretching amain with its whirlings of waters separates us. Can I quest help from my father, whom I deserted to follow a youth besprinkled with my brother’s blood? Can I crave comfort from the care of a faithful yokeman, who is fleeing with yielding oars, encurving ‘midst whirling waters. If I turn from the beach there is no roof in this tenantless island, no way sheweth a passage, circled by waves of the sea; no way of flight, no hope; all denotes dumbness, desolation, and death. Natheless mine eyes shall not be dimmed in death, nor my senses secede from my spent frame, until I have besought from the gods a meet mulct for my betrayal, and implored the faith of the celestials with my latest breath. Wherefore ye requiters of men’s deeds with avenging pains, O Eumenides, whose front enwreathed with serpent-locks blazons the wrath exhaled from your bosom, hither, hither haste, hear ye my plainings, which I, sad wretch, am urged to outpour from mine innermost marrow, helpless, burning, and blind with frenzied fury. And since in truth they spring from the veriest depths of my heart, be ye unwilling to allow my agony to pass unheeded, but with such mind as Theseus forsook me, with like mind, O goddesses, may he bring evil on himself and on his kin.”

After she had poured forth these words from her grief-laden bosom, distractedly clamouring for requital against his heartless deeds, the celestial ruler assented with almighty nod, at whose motion the earth and the awe-full waters quaked, and the world of glittering stars did quiver. But Theseus, self-blinded with mental mist, let slip from forgetful breast all those injunctions which until then he had held firmly in mind, nor bore aloft sweet signals to his sad sire, shewing himself safe when in sight of Erectheus’ haven. For ’tis said that aforetime, when Aegeus entrusted his son to the winds, on leaving the walls of the chaste goddess’s city, these commands he gave to the youth with his parting embrace.

“O mine only son, far dearer to me than long life, lately restored to me at extreme end of my years, O son whom I must perforce dismiss to a doubtful hazard, since my ill fate and thine ardent valour snatch thee from unwilling me, whose dim eyes are not yet sated with my son’s dear form: nor gladly and with joyous breast do I send thee, nor will I suffer thee to bear signs of helpful fortune, but first from my breast many a plaint will I express, sullying my grey hairs with dust and ashes, and then will I hang dusky sails to the swaying mast, so that our sorrow and burning lowe are shewn by Iberian canvas, rustily darkened. Yet if the dweller on holy Itone, who deigns defend our race and Erectheus’ dwellings, grant thee to besprinkle thy right hand in the bull’s blood, then see that in very truth these commandments deep-stored in thine heart’s memory do flourish, nor any time deface them. Instant thine eyes shall see our cliffs, lower their gloomy clothing from every yard, and let the twisted cordage bear aloft snowy sails, where splendent shall shine bright topmast spars, so that, instant discerned, I may know with gladness and lightness of heart that in prosperous hour thou art returned to my face.”

These charges, at first held in constant mind, from Theseus slipped away as clouds are impelled by the breath of the winds from the ethereal peak of a snow-clad mount. But his father as he betook himself to the castle’s turrets as watchplace, dimming his anxious eyes with continual weeping, when first he spied the discoloured canvas, flung himself headlong from the top of the crags, deeming Theseus lost by harsh fate. Thus as he entered the grief-stricken house, his paternal roof, Theseus savage with slaughter met with like grief as that which with unmemoried mind he had dealt to Minos’ daughter: while she with grieving gaze at his disappearing keel, turned over a tumult of cares in her wounded spirit.

But on another part [of the tapestry] swift hastened the flushed Iacchus with his train of Satyrs and Nisa-begot Sileni, thee questing, Ariadne, and aflame with love for thee. * * * * These scattered all around, an inspired band, rushed madly with mind all distraught, ranting “Euhoe,” with tossing of heads “Euhoe.” Some with womanish hands shook thyrsi with wreath-covered points; some tossed limbs of a rended steer; some engirt themselves with writhed snakes; some enacted obscure orgies with deep chests, orgies of which the profane vainly crave a hearing; others beat the tambours with outstretched palms, or from the burnished brass provoked shrill tinklings, blew raucous-sounding blasts from many horns, and the barbarous pipe droned forth horrible song.

With luxury of such figures was the coverlet adorned, enwrapping the bed with its mantling embrace. After the Thessalian youthhood with eager engazing were sated they began to give way to the sacred gods. Hence, as with his morning’s breath brushing the still sea Zephyrus makes the sloping billows uprise, when Aurora mounts ‘neath the threshold of the wandering sun, which waves heave slowly at first with the breeze’s gentle motion (plashing with the sound as of low laughter) but after, as swells the wind, more and more frequent they crowd and gleam in the purple light as they float away — so quitting the royal vestibule did the folk hie them away each to his home with steps wandering hither and thither.

After they had wended their way, chief from the Pelion vertex Chiron came, the bearer of sylvan spoil: for whatsoever the fields bear, whatso the Thessalian land on its high hills breeds, and what flowers the fecund air of warm Favonius begets near the running streams, these did he bear enwreathed into blended garlands wherewith the house rippled with laughter, caressed by the grateful odour.

Speedily stands present Penios, for a time his verdant Tempe, Tempe whose overhanging trees encircle, leaving to the Dorian choirs, damsels Magnesian, to frequent; nor empty-handed — for he has borne hither lofty beeches uprooted and the tall laurel with straight stem, nor lacks he the nodding plane and the lithe sister of flame-wrapt Phaethon and the aerial cypress. These wreathed in line did he place around the palace so that the vestibule might grow green sheltered with soft fronds.

After him follows Prometheus of inventive mind, bearing diminishing traces of his punishment of aforetime, which of old he had suffered, with his limbs confined by chains hanging from the rugged Scythian crags. Then came the sire of gods from heaven with his holy consort and offspring, leaving thee alone, Phoebus, with thy twin-sister the fosterer of the mountains of Idrus: for equally with thyself did thy sister disdain Peleus nor was she willing to honour the wedding torches of Thetis. After they had reclined their snow-white forms along the seats, tables were loaded on high with food of various kinds.

In the meantime with shaking bodies and infirm gesture the Parcae began to intone their veridical chant. Their trembling frames were enwrapped around with white garments, encircled with a purple border at their heels, snowy fillets bound each aged brow, and their hands pursued their never-ending toil, as of custom. The left hand bore the distaff enwrapped in soft wool, the right hand lightly withdrawing the threads with upturned fingers did shape them, then twisting them with the prone thumb it turned the balanced spindle with well-polished whirl. And then with a pluck of their tooth the work was always made even, and the bitten wool-shreds adhered to their dried lips, which shreds at first had stood out from the fine thread. And in front of their feet wicker baskets of osier twigs took charge of the soft white woolly fleece. These, with clear-sounding voice, as they combed out the wool, outpoured fates of such kind in sacred song, in song which none age yet to come could tax with untruth.

“O with great virtues thine exceeding honour augmenting, stay of Emathia-land, most famous in thine issue, receive what the sisters make known to thee on this gladsome day, a weird veridical! But ye whom the fates do follow:— Haste ye, a-weaving the woof, O hasten, ye spindles.

“Now Hesperus shall come unto thee bearing what is longed for by bridegrooms, with that fortunate star shall thy bride come, who ensteeps thy soul with the sway of softening love, and prepares with thee to conjoin in languorous slumber, making her smooth arms thy pillow round ‘neath thy sinewy neck. Haste ye, a-weaving the woof, O hasten, ye spindles.

“No house ever yet enclosed such loves, no love bound lovers with such pact, as abideth with Thetis, as is the concord of Peleus. Haste ye, a-weaving the woof, O hasten, ye spindles.

“To ye shall Achilles be born, a stranger to fear, to his foemen not by his back, but by his broad breast known, who, oft-times the victor in the uncertain struggle of the foot-race, shall outrun the fire-fleet footsteps of the speedy doe. Haste ye, a-weaving the woof, O hasten, ye spindles.

“None in war with him may compare as a hero, when the Phrygian streams shall trickle with Trojan blood, and when besieging the walls of Troy with a long-drawn-out warfare perjured Pelops’ third heir shall lay that city waste. Haste ye, a-weaving the woof, O hasten, ye spindles.

“His glorious acts and illustrious deeds often shall mothers attest o’er funeral-rites of their sons, when the white locks from their heads are unloosed amid ashes, and they bruise their discoloured breasts with feeble fists. Haste ye, a-weaving the woof, O hasten, ye spindles.

“For as the husbandman bestrewing the dense wheat-ears mows the harvest yellowed ‘neath ardent sun, so shall he cast prostrate the corpses of Troy’s sons with grim swords. Haste ye, a-weaving the woof, O hasten, ye spindles.

“His great valour shall be attested by Scamander’s wave, which ever pours itself into the swift Hellespont, narrowing whose course with slaughtered heaps of corpses he shall make tepid its deep stream by mingling warm blood with the water. Haste ye, a-weaving the woof, O hasten, ye spindles.

“And she a witness in fine shall be the captive-maid handed to death, when the heaped-up tomb of earth built in lofty mound shall receive the snowy limbs of the stricken virgin. Haste ye, a-weaving the woof, O hasten, ye spindles.

“For instant fortune shall give the means to the war-worn Greeks to break Neptune’s stone bonds of the Dardanian city, the tall tomb shall be made dank with Polyxena’s blood, who as the victim succumbing ‘neath two-edged sword, with yielding hams shall fall forward a headless corpse. Haste ye, a-weaving the woof, O hasten, ye spindles.

“Wherefore haste ye to conjoin in the longed-for delights of your love. Bridegroom thy goddess receive in felicitous compact; let the bride be given to her eager husband. Haste ye, a-weaving the woof, O hasten, ye spindles.

“Nor shall the nurse at orient light returning, with yester-e’en’s thread succeed in circling her neck. [Haste ye, a-weaving the woof, O hasten, ye spindles.] Not need her solicitous mother fear sad discord shall cause a parted bed for her daughter, nor need she cease to hope for dear grandchildren. Haste ye, a-weaving the woof, O hasten, ye spindles.”

With such soothsaying songs of yore did the Parcae chant from divine breast the felicitous fate of Peleus. For of aforetime the heaven-dwellers were wont to visit the chaste homes of heroes and to shew themselves in mortal assembly ere yet their worship was scorned. Often the father of the gods, a-resting in his glorious temple, when on the festal days his annual rites appeared, gazed on an hundred bulls strewn prone on the earth. Often wandering Liber on topmost summit of Parnassus led his yelling Thyiads with loosely tossed locks. * * * * When the Delphians tumultuously trooping from the whole of their city joyously acclaimed the god with smoking altars. Often in lethal strife of war Mavors, or swift Triton’s queen, or the Rhamnusian virgin, in person did exhort armed bodies of men. But after the earth was infected with heinous crime, and each one banished justice from their grasping mind, and brothers steeped their hands in fraternal blood, the son ceased grieving o’er departed parents, the sire craved for the funeral rites of his first-born that freely he might take of the flower of unwedded step-dame, the unholy mother, lying under her unknowing son, did not fear to sully her household gods with dishonour: everything licit and lawless commingled with mad infamy turned away from us the just-seeing mind of the gods. Wherefore nor do they deign to appear at such-like assemblies, nor will they permit themselves to be met in the day-light.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/catullus/carmina/poem64.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37