Greek & Latin Verse

Translated into English Verse

by Students at the University of Dallas

 

P i n d a r,  Nemean V, first 2 triads

          by Fred Fraser (for Greek Lyric, May 2004)

 

P i n d a r,  Isthmian VII

          by Tyler Travillian (for Greek Lyric, May 2004)

 

P i n d a r,  Pythian VIII

          by Abi King  (for Senior Project, May 2001)

 

S o p h o c l e s,  Oedipus, 380-411

          by Luke Culley (for Greek Tragedy, May 2002)

 

S o p h o c l e s,  Oedipus, 464-511

          by Stephen Little (Greek Tragedy, May 2002)

 

S i m o n i d e s,  Danaë  and Perseus (fr. 543)

          by Kristen Killingsworth (Poets on Poetry, Spring 2002)

 

H o m e r, 'Odysseus Puts To Sea', Odyssey 5.262-494

          by Karl Maurer, William Turnage, Timothy Dean, Hans Decker, William McGowan, B. J. Schaefer, Mary Tetzlaff, Joseph Lacey, and David Ring (Homer course of Fall 2007)

 

P r o p e r t i u s,  IV, 3 (transl. & text)

          by Elizabeth Malone (for Senior Project, May 2008)

 

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HOW THESE TRANSLATIONS CAME TO EXIST.  In Greek or Latin translation courses at U.D., you can sometimes make an "artistic" verse translation instead of a term paper, if you agree to the following rather strict rules:

 

(I) If the original is in hexameters, elegiacs, iambs, etc., then: (A) The English to be in clear pure blank verse (no clots of extra syllables, over-abrupt enjambements, etc.); (B) each Greek verse to be rendered by one English verse, so that the lineation is identical;  (C) the English to be naked and simple, imitating the speaking voice (no stilted inversions, etc.); yet (D) every important image, or even word, must be kept, as exactly as possible, and the grammar and even the word order imitated, wherever possible.

 

(II) If the original is "lyric" verse in stanzas, rules A and B do not apply; instead you invent some "equivalent" English stanza-form: rhymless, like the original, and having varied line-lengths, yet sonorous and pretty.  Of course, varied line-lengths without rhyme can seem like free verse; you must guard against that carefully.  (But 'stanzas' may now and then be looser, if you invent a good enough alternative -- as here Stephen Little's rendering of Sophocles, where he charmingly used the alliterative verse of Old English epic.)   

 

Naturally we now and then had to break these rules; and naturally one pays a heavy price for each of them; but usually we try hard to keep them; for the results tend to seem more accurate, and more musical, than the far looser rules usually used by translators.

 

 

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P i n d a r,  N e m e a n  V

 

(first two triads)

 

Transl. Fred Fraser, 11 May 2004

 

 

Strophe A

                        I am no sculptor crafting

            calm statues soon to stand on their own step,

                        but on each boat in tow

            and on each fleeting skiff, depart, Sweet Song,

            fly from Aigina, telling that young Pytheas,

            the strongest son of Lampon, won a wreath,

                        Pankratium’s reward,

            before he came to ripeness, the dear mother

                        to tender grape-leaf down.

 

Ant. A           

                        He graced the Aiakidai,

            those spearmen heroes sprung from Zeus and Kronos,

                        and the gold Nereids

            and his own mother-city, dear to strangers.

            The famous sons of Endais and Lord Phokos

            once prayed while standing near a cairn to Zeus:

                        “May she be doubly famous:

            renowned for men on foot, and ships at sea”

                        As they outstretched their arms.

 

Epode A

                        Lord Phokos, goddess’s son!

            she bore him where the breakers meet the sand.

            I am ashamed to boast, and justly so,

                        a weird rash feat;

            and how the brilliant island was abandoned

            and how some god sped stout men from Oenona.

            I stop – not every naked truth is gain,

often the finest skill for man is silence.

 

Strophe B

                        If someone deemed it good

            to praise hands’ blessed strength or iron war,

                        let someone dig for me

            a long-jump:  nimble lightness holds my knees

            and high above the ocean eagles soar

            and what’s more, Muses sing in Palion,

a chorus fair and eager:

            Apollo with his golden pick is hunting

                        the seven-tongued lyre for them.

 

Ant. B

                        He leads the varied hymns:

then praising Zeus, they next remember Thetis

                        and also Peleus,

whom soft Hippolyta wanted to beguile

when having won her husband to her plots,

her lord and ally to Magnesia,

                        she framed a lying story,

and that man Peleus was tried by marriage

            and at Akastos’s bed.

 

Epode B

                        Now all this was reversed,

            for having spoken to his heart she lunged.

            the lovely stories had aroused his passion:

                        yet he declined,

            while fearful of the ire of his guest-father:

            and he well-counseled won a smile from Zeus,

who then permitted him to quickly marry

an ocean Nereid with golden hair[.]

           

 

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P i n d a r,  I s t h m i a n  7

 

Transl. Tyler Travillian, May 2004


O blessed Thebes, which old, indigenous
joys most delight your heart? Was it the time
when you gave birth to long-tressed Dionysus
to sit in state beside Demeter,
whose brazen cymbals clatter                                              5
or when you lodged the strongest god,
who snowed with gold at midnight,

who stopped before Amphitryon’s front-door
and wooed his wife, to father Hercules?
Or in Teiresias’ well-crafted counsels?                                 10
Or in the Spartoi’s tireless spear,
or horse-wise Ioláos?
Or when you sent Adrastus forth,
away from mighty battle,

lacking ten-thousand friends, to horse-filled Argos?          15
Or when you stood the Doric colony
of Spartan men on sturdy feet,
so that your seed, the Aigeids, took Amyclae,
as Pythian prophecies foretold?
For ancient radiance                                                  20
sleeps, mortal men forget

what does not reach the highest bloom of skill
yoked to the splendor of a story’s stream.
With sweet-themed song adore Strepsiades:
he brings the Isthmus victory                                               25
in the Pancration:
a shapely sight, his strength is striking:
both girth and virtue equal.

The violet-plaited Muses light him up:
he shared his glory with his like-named uncle,                   30
with whom bronze-shielded Ares mixed his doom.
And honor waits for noble men.
But let him clearly know,
who in this murk from dearest country
holds back the hail of bloodshed,                                         35

while bringing doom against the other army,
augments the greatest glory of his people,
of both the living and the dead.
And you, Diodótus’ son, while praising spear-
strong Meleager, Hector too,                                                40
and Amphiaraus,
expired still young and strong

among the rush of fighters, where the best
with their last hopes had gripped the strife of war.
And they endured a grief unspeakable;                              45
but now Poseidon sends me clear-skies:
The winter storms are gone;
I sing and plait my hair with wreathes.
Let no god’s envy worry,

while I pursue whatever day-long pleasure                         50
and go to quiet age, my fated life-span.
The same death comes to all, but our fates differ:  

a man who sets his sights too far 

is still too short to reach
the bronze-floored seat of deathless gods,               55
whence winged Pegasus

cast down indeed his lord Bellerophon
the one who longed to reach the doors of heaven
to gain the company of Zeus.
A thing too sweet awaits a bitter end.                                  60
O Loxias, whose hair flows golden,
present us from your games
a flowering wreath from Pytho.



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P i n d a r,  P y t h i a n  E i g h t.

 

For Aristomenes of Aegina. 

 

transl. Abi King, May 2001

 

                        I                                              

Kind Quietness, who make a city great,

Justice’s child, who keep the master keys

Of counsels, wars, receive this Pythian song

                                               For Aristomenes. For you know how

                                                And with unerring tact

                                                To practice gentleness

                                                And suffer it, in turn. 

 

                                    Whenever someone drives relentless wrath                        

                                    Into a heart, you meet it harsh with force,

                                    You cast his hubris in a stagnant bilge.                                10

                                    Porphyrion, too, when he forgot his place,

                                            Provoked you unawares.                     

                                            A gain is best when borne

                                            From one who freely gives.

 

                                    But force trips up a braggart in due time.               15

                                    Kilician Typho of the hundred heads

                                    Did not escape, nor did the Giant King:

                                    He was defeated by the thunderbolt                                               

                                    And arrows of Apollo, who received

                                    Xenarchos’ son from Kirra graciously,                                20

                                    Crowned with Parnassian leaf and Doric song.

 

                                                            II

                                    This island with its justice-loving cities,                              

                                    Fell not far from the Graces, having reached

                                    Famed excellence of great Aiakos’ sons.

                                    It held its perfect glory from the start,                                 25       

                                            And shaping heroes great,                                                       

                                            Is sung in many games

                                            And in the battles swift.

 

For warriors, too, the island is renowned.

But I am not at leisure to relate                                            30       

The whole long-winded story with the lyre

and sweet young voice, lest surfeit come and chafe.

        Child, on my rapid path                                                          

        Must go your fair new deeds,

        Your debt, winged with my skill.                                 35

 

                                    Treading your uncles’ tracks in wrestling rings,

                                    You did not shame Theognetos at Olympia                                   

                                    Nor Cleitomachos’ strong-limbed Isthmian win.

                                    You increase the fame of the Meidylidai,

                                    Of you the son of Oikleos prophesied                                              

                                    When he perceived the sons with battle spears                   40

                                    As they stood fast at Seven-Gated Thebes,

 

                                                            III

And when the Epígoni arrived from Argos,

Their second expedition. Thus he spoke,                            

While they fought on:  “Innate nobility                              45

Marks sons of noble fathers.  So I see

        Alkmaon grip his shield,                                                          

        That flashes with its dragon.

        The first in Cadmus’ door.

 

                                    Hero Adrastos, worn out by his grief,                                  50

                                            Is now caught up by news of better omen,                            

                                    Though his affairs at home will end for worse.

                                    The lone survivor of the Danaan troops,

                                            He will collect the bones

                                            Of his dead son.  The gods’                                           55

                                            Own chance will lead him home

 

                                    To Abas’ wide streets, with his people safe.”

                                    Thus Amphiaraos spoke.  I too, rejoice,

                                    And wreathing Alkmaon, I sprinkle him                           

                                    With song.  My neighbor, he protects my wealth.             60

                                    He met me as I went to Pytho once,

                                    The celebrated navel of the earth.                                       

                                    By birth he practiced arts of prophecy.

 

                                                            IV                   

                                    But you, Apollo, casting arrows far,

                                    Dwell in the famous temple in the glens                              65

                                            At Pytho, where you gave this greatest joy;

                                    Before, at home, you gave the pleasing gift 

                                            of a Pentathlon prize,

                                            You led him to your feasts.                                                      

                                            Lord, graciously now grant                                          70       

 

                                    That I keep harmony with every step.

                                    Justice directs the sweet procession song;

                                    I beg ungrudging favor from the gods,

                                    Xenarkes, for your future.  When a man                            

                                            Has gained good things with ease,                              75

                                            He seems like he is wise

                                            Among the crowd of fools                                                        

 

At arming life with clever stratagems;

But this lies not with men.  A god bestows it;

He steps into the ring, his timing right,                               80

He tosses one man in the air, then hurls

Another down.  Megara’s prize is yours,

And Marathon’s, and Hera’s games at home,

You tame your rivals with three victories.

 

                                                            V

                                    With ill intent you fell upon four foes,                                 85

                                    To whom no sweet return home is awarded,

                                    At Pytho, as to you.  Nor when they came

                                    Before their mothers did sweet laughter stir

                                                Delight.  They skulk down alleys,

                                                Unseen by enemies                                                   90

                                                Hard-bitten by their grief.                                                   

 

                                    But he who gets by lot some fair new thing,

                                    He flies with grace on strong wings of great hope,

                                    Preoccupied by greater things than wealth.

                                    Delight of mortal men so briefly blooms,                            95

                                            And just as quickly falls                                                           

                                            Down to the ground, when shaken

                                            By some opposing will.

 

                                    Day-creatures.  What is man?  What is he not?

                                    We are a shadow’s dream.  When radiance comes,           100

                                    Gift of the gods, there lingers brilliant light,

                                    A lifetime is imbued with gentleness.

                                    Dear Mother, Aegina, on her path of freedom

                                    Protect this city; Zeus too, strong Aiakos,

                                    And Peleus, and good Telamon, and Achilles.                    105

 

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INTRODUCTION TO PYTHIAN VIII (by Abi King).   The victory ode, as Pindar wrote and intended to be performed, remains fundamentally foreign to us.  This kind of commission, a poem sung and danced after an athletic victory, has not existed for thousands of years.  Carne- Ross describes it as “a literary oddity the like of which the world has not seen again.”  Nisetich, quoting Conrad, laments the loss of such a distinctive art form:  “History repeats itself, but the special call of an art which has passed away is never reproduced.  It is as utterly gone out of the world as the song of a destroyed wild bird”.   There is no English equivalent, in fact, for the Greek κῶμος, the post-victory festival procession in which the ode was sung and danced.  Its archaic strangeness confronts the reader, often leaving him with the feeling that Pindar’s genre is hopelessly removed from the modern understanding of poetry.  Yet while the ode’s choreography and accompanying melodies have passed out of existence, Pindar’s words remain intact.  They still retain, in archaic fusion, the glory of victory and transience of human life.  Nisetich explains: 

 

If the only strength of Pindar’s odes lay in their instrumentation or in their choreography, they would not have survived.  We may feel nostalgia for the missing dance and musical accompaniment, but the essential power of the poetry is still there, in the words.    

 

Pindar’s poetry is, therefore, still accessible, and essential to an understanding of the archaic  world.  To aid the reader in reading Pindar in translation, one must consider the best way to make the stanzas sing as they once did. 

                A student new to Pindar also encounters an apparent lack of structure in the ode.  Pindar seems to move quickly from invocation, to myth, to words of wisdom, with no logical continuity.  One is tempted to devise a framework to categorize the parts of the ode, and to apply this template to the poem. This approach simply does not work.  Pindar is more subtle and free than an outline structure permits, and this imposition would blind the reader to the ode’s refinement.  One can be sure that the following basic elements are present in an ode.  The poet begins with an invocation to the gods or some kind of abstract divinity.  The next elements proceed in varying order for every ode:  maxims, wise sayings that often “overlap” in theme with the other sections of the ode; myths, which are “somehow illustrative of the nature of the victor’s deed, city, or ancestors;” an address to the victor, and a description of his, or his ancestors’, victories.   The poet also includes comments about himself, his art or his relation to his patrons.  With this basic structure one better understands the continuity of Pindar’s ode.  Bowra issues one caveat, however, to reading Pindar with a set structure in mind: 

 

The foundations are the plan of the poem, including the metrical scheme, which holds the words, but the words themselves, though cunningly fitted to it, are not to be explained by it… each phrase is fresh and individual and different from what has gone before, and in the separate growth of each theme and its relation to the next we must find the internal artistry of the ode.

 

One should therefore not focus on the structure of the poem, but on the way that each section freely relates to the next, and to the whole.    

                While Pindar freely employs structure to convey the ode’s themes, he uses meter to give rhythm to the ode itself.  It is rhythm that gives the ode its choral nature; it reminds the reader that this poetry, like no other, was sung and danced.  Most translations of Pythian VΙΙΙ exist in prose form. While some attempt to maintain the structure of Pindar’s original text, many lose the choral sense.  This translation, though not in Pindar’s “logaeoedic rhythm,” strives to keep the lyrical aspect.  Each stanza begins in iambic pentameter, which establishes a strong rhythm and commands the listener’s attention to the theme, myth or invocation at hand:  “Kind Quietness, who make a city great”.  The strophe and antistrophe continue with four lines in pentameter, and then conclude with three lines in iambic trimeter.  The shorter lines present maxims well, draw the theme or myth to a quiet close, or serve as a swift transition to the next stanza.  The epode is composed entirely in iambic pentameter for variation and a sense of conclusion to the triad, even though the tale or theme often continues to the next strophe.  This metrical variation between strophe and antistrophe with epode follows typical Greek choral structure:  “The first two [strophe and antistrophe], showing two large movements of the chorus, have an identical metrical pattern; the epode- sung by the chorus standing still- has its own meter, the same in each epode”.  The meter attempts to follow the sense of the original Greek as closely as possible.

                The structure of the translation also maintains closeness to the original text.  The triads contain strophes and antistrophes each seven lines in length.  Enjambment between the stanzas and triads has also been preserved.  Pindar does not always neatly come to the end of a thought at the stanza’s end; he links it to the next theme by starting the next section with its conclusion.  This technique creates continuity within the ode, a graceful flow that connects myth, maxim and invocation.  Understanding of the ode, however, does not exist in its genre, structure or meter alone; to grasp its meaning, one must turn to the context in which the ode was commissioned, and then to the text itself.

                Historical context of the Ode.  Pindar composed this ode for Aristomenes, a young man from Aegina who won in wrestling at the Pythian games of 446 BC.  Most agree that this was Pindar’s last ode, composed when he was 72; his career as a poet, then, lasted over fifty years.  The boy for whom he wrote was from an aristocratic Aeginetan clan, the Meidylidai, and held previous victories at Megara, Marathon and at Aegina.  Two of his uncles also won in wrestling, in the Olympian and Isthmian games; the theme of inherited greatness therefore figures strongly in the poem.  This kind of greatness distinguishes Aegina; while Pindar finds it a reason for praise, the island itself faced great hardship because of its ideals.

                Aegina could be seen from Athens’ Piraeus; its close physical proximity to Athens, as well as its reliance on sea trade, is probably the only quality that the island held in common with the city.  The two held a rivalry, and later enmity, that existed on two levels. Wealthy Aegina was Athens’ only close naval competition.  Athenian concern for Aegina’s naval threat evidently existed as early as 492, when Themistocles began fortifying the Piraeus harbor. Secondly, as an ancient aristocracy Aegina ideologically opposed Athens’ democracy.  She was an aristocracy par excellence, as Nisetich explains, one that “was ruled by a small number of ancient noble families whose claims to power were hereditary and who traced their ancestry back to the great heroes of the Trojan war, and beyond them to Zeus himself.”  Aegina’s unwilling involvement in the Delian League also increased the tension between the two powers.  They clashed on and off for seventy years until 458, when Athens took away Aegina’s independence. 

                Pindar wrote Pythian Eight in the context of Aegina’s subjugation.  It is, “the only poem, so far as we know, that Pindar wrote for Aegina after she had lost her independence.”   Years later, Athens would put an end to Aegina’s insurrection for good, by forcibly removing the Aeginetans from their island home and importing a new, harmless population.  While Pindar may or may not predict this event in the invocation at the end of Pythian Eight, he does convey a sense of foreboding about her future.  He calls upon not only “Mother Aegina” and Zeus himself, but also the greatest Aeginetan heroes of all time. His request for aid in Aegina’s struggle for freedom must have been an anxious and serious one.

                The Myth in Pythian Eight.  The reader has now seen the influence and significance of Pindar’s genre, structure, meter and historical context on his ode.  One final and essential subject should be understood:  the main myths, and their significance in this poem.  Pindar’s myths may overwhelm the modern reader with sometime obscure references. With Pythian Eight, however, the reader fortunately encounters myths that are widely known or, with some background, are easily understood.  Linking the myth to the theme of the passage also presents difficulties.  To understand Pindar’s mythical element, the reader should recall the myths intertwined in Homer’s epics and their metaphoric purposes.  Pindar employs myth in much the same way as Homer, linking the account with either a person or a theme to imply a greater truth.  The major myth in Pythian Eight will be discussed in this introduction; the shorter ones will be explained later in the commentary.  

                In Epode B Pindar turns the narration of the ode over to “the son of Oikleos,” the Theban seer Amphiaraos.  He relates a myth that goes back to the sons of Oedipus and Jocasta, Eteocles and Polyneices.  Theses were two of the Seven against Thebes, joined by Adrastos, the King of Argos, Tydeus, Amphiaraos, and others.  Invading Thebes “in order to put Polyneices on the throne,” the Seven were defeated.  All died except Adrastos and Amphiaraos.  Adrastos made a second attempt on Thebes, with the Epigonoi, the sons of the Seven; Amphiaraos’ own son, Alkmaon, was with them. Adrastos and the Epigonoi took Thebes, but Adrastos lost his son in the battle. Heartbroken, Adrastos returned home. 

                One wonders what connection this myth has to the young Aeginetan victor.  Burton explains its influence:  “[Aristomenes] gives proof of inherited skill at wrestling and increases the fame of the family clan (vv.35-38).  The point of the myth is the force of heredity, stated in the first words of Amphiaraos’ vision.”  This theme of hereditary greatness prevails throughout Pythian Eight, and is a cause of Aeginetan glory.  Burton also considers it possible that the Epigoni myth represents Pindar’s hopes for the island’s future happiness and freedom.  The myth elevates the events of the games beyond the human and transient and establishes them in relation to the immortal and eternal world of the gods.

                Pindar’s odes are unlike any other literature that a student encounters.  Some dismiss his work as too lofty and difficult to understand.  The odes also have the reputation of filling Greek students with trepidation and bewilderment.  Though Pindar’s Greek is difficult at times, it is hardly ever incomprehensible; the parts of his odes that do present difficulties challenge the reader to enter the archaic world and see humanity through ancient and Pindaric eyes. They strike the modern reader with imagery that is bold, grand, and demanding.  But they are, as Carne-Ross said quoting Ben Jonson, “ramm’d with life.” 

 

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S o p h o c l e s,  O e d i p u s  R e x,  3 8 0 - 4 1 1

 

Transl. Luke Culley, May 2002

 

OE. O wealth, O rule, O skill that conquers skill               380

In life that swarms with jealous rivalries,

How great a store of envy is saved for you

If for a crown, a gift from Thebes, a thing

She put into my hands — I didn’t seek it —                                    

For this, good Creon, friend to me at first,                          385

Now creeps in secret, longing to overthrow me.

He plants this holy fool who stitches schemes,

A crafty beggar whose eyes are bright for money,

Whose expertise is to be blind by nature.                             

So tell us, when were you so sharp a prophet?                                390

Yes, when that dog who chanted verse was here

Why didn’t you speak up to save these people?

Her riddle wasn’t for just anyone

Who happened by to solve. It needed prophecy.                 

But you so plainly had none! Not from birds,                                395

Nor any god. Then I, Know-nothing Oedipus,

I stopped her. Not because I questioned birds!

I hit the truth by thinking.  So you’re trying

To get me exiled now, because you think                             

That that way you’ll stand nearer Creon’s throne.                         400

You may drive out the curse with your accomplice

But you’ll be crying.  If you weren’t so old

You’d suffer for the kinds of things you’re thinking.

CH.  In our opinion this man’s words were angry,                         

And Oedipus, it seems that yours were too.                                    405

This isn’t what we need. We need to learn

How we can best resolve God's prophecy.

TE.  Though you are king, I have an equal right

To answer.  Even I am lord of this.

I'm not your slave but Loxias' alone                                                410

And don't stand under Creon's patronage.

 

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S o p h o c l e s,  O e d i p u s  R e x,  4 6 4 - 5 1 1

 

Transl. Stephen Little, May 6, 2002

 

CHORUS:

 

Who was it whom the Oracle,                                                           (Str. A)

Rock of Delphi, deemed the doer

Of this slaying so unspeakable,                                            465

Bathing both of his hands in blood?

Come is the time for the killer to flee

Swifter than horses with speed of the storm.

With lightning and fire leaps the lord,

From Zeus descended, down on the doer;               470

Winging with him, at once follow

The deadly, unerring Drawers of Doom.

  

From snow-showered slopes of Parnasus shines                 (Ant. A)

The order to all to hunt for the hidden.                                475

Wandering down to the wild woods,

Up to the caverns, crag-encrusted,

A wretch bereaved, with wretched feet

Flees the oracles of Apollo.                                                    480

But they round him ring forever.

Now a soothsayer skilled unsettles me:                                            

 

Dark words I dare not to doubt nor confirm.                      485      ( Str. B)

Wondering, I wait for the words I will utter;

High on the wings of Hope I hover,

Blind looking back, and after blind.

What was the war between these two,

Polybus’ lineage, Labdakos’ line?                                        490

Never before nor now have I known

A test by which to attack the towering                                495

Pride the people place in Oedipus,

Man avenging the mystery murder.

  

Anyway, all-wise Zeus and Apollo                                      (Ant. B)

Know the matter of mortal men;

But might a man measure if more were achieved  500

By me or the prophet through mere human means?

One may wax too wise with skill;

But till I know these tales are true,                           505

I cannot blame the king in kind.

One time when the winged maiden

Full of fame against him fought

Cunning and dear we came to call him

Since he trod the trial true.

So shall he never in my heart seem                          510

To bear the blame of being base.

 

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S i m o n i d e s:  Danaë  and Perseus (fr. 543)

Transl. Kristin Killingsworth, Spring 2002

 

When in a curiously wrought ark

a blasting wind and

a roused sea with fear

cast her down, not with unwetted cheeks

around Perseus she put a loving arm                                              5         

and said, “Oh child, such trouble I have,

 

but you sleep well with tender

heart. You slumber

in a joyless plank

stretched out out in the dark gloom                                     10       

of the unlit night bolted in bronze.*

You have no care of the deep brine of the sea

as the wave passes above your hair,

nor of the wind’s

voice, your beautiful face sleeping on the crimson shawl.             15       

Surely if to you this danger was danger

then to my words

your tiny ears would turn.

I urge you; sleep, baby

and sleep sea and sleep measureless misery.                                   20       

 

I wish some change would appear,

Father Zeus, from you,

but if my words that I pray are bold,

or apart from right,

forgive me.                                                                                         25       

*          *          *

 NOTE TO SIMONIDES FR. 543 (by Karl Maurer).  The Greek text is corrupt and hard in places.  Here is the text as given by Campbell in his Greek Lyric Poetry; the apparatus taken mostly (but not wholly) from his:

 

                        ὅτε λρνακι

ἐν δαιδαλέᾳ

ἄνεμός τέ μιν πνέων                                            

κινειθεῖσ τε λίμνα δείματι                      

ἔρειπεν, οὐκ διντοισι παρείαις  5         

μφί τε Περσέι βλλε φίλαν χέρα          

εἶπέν τ'.  'ὦ τέκος, οἷον ἔχω πόνον·            

 

σὺ δ' ωτεῖς, γαλαθηνῷ                                      

δ' ἤθε-ι κνοώσσεις                                       

ἐν τερπέι δούρατι χαλκεογόμφῳ            10    

<τῷ>δε νυκτιλαμπεῖ                                   

κυανέῳ δνόφῳ ταθείς·                   

λμαν δ' ὕπερθε τεᾶν κομᾶν                    

βαθεῖαν, παρίοντος

κύματος, οὐκ λέγεις οὐδ' νέμου            15

φθόγγον, πορφυρέᾳ

κείμενος ἐν χλανίδι, πρόσωπον καλόν.   

εἰ δέ τοι δεινὸν τό γε δεινὸν ἦν,

καί κεν ἐμῶν ῥημτων

λεπτὸν ὑπεῖχες οὖας.                                  20

 

κέλομαι δ', εὗδε βρέφος,

εὑδέτω δὲ πόντος, εὑδέτω δ'ἄμετρον κακόν·      

μεταβουλία δέ τις φανείη,

Ζεῦ πτερ, ἐκ σέο·

ὅττι δὲ θαρσαλέον ἔπος εὔχομαι   25

ἢ νόσφι δίκας

σύγγνωθί μοι.

 

3 τε μὴν P: τ' ἐμῆι V: τέ μιν Schneidwin.  4 δὲ codd.: τε Brunck. δείματι V: δεῖ ματι P: δεῖμα Μ.  5  ἔρειπεν MV: ἔριπεν P.  7 τέκος Ath.: τέκνον Dion.  8 σὺ δ' αὖτε εἰς γαλαθηνῶι δ' ἤτορι Ath., Bergk: σὺ δ' αὐταῖς γαλαθηνώδει Μ: σὺ δ' αυταις ἐγαλαθηνωδει θει PV.  9 κνοώσσεις PV Dion:  κνώσσεις M Ath. Dion.  10  -γόμφω δε codd: suppl. Page.  11 νυκτὶ λμπει(ς) Lattimore legere videtur ('in the bronze-bolted night you shine)'.  11  κυανέῳ δνόφῳ ταθείς:  ταδ' εις codd.: em. Shneidewin.  13 αὐλέαν PV: αὐλαίαν M: ἅλμαν Bergk: ἄχναν Page.  17 πρ. κ. πρόσωπον P: πρ. κ. προφαίνων Ahrens.  

 

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*          *          *

 

     ODYSSEUS PUTS TO SEA

 

Odyssey 5.262-494, translated in fall 2007, by

Karl Maurer (262-312),

William Turnage (312-332),

Timothy Dean (333-355),

Hans Decker (356-76),

William McGowan (377-399),

B. J. Schaefer (400-423),

Mary Tetzlaff (424-450),

Joseph Lacey (451-73),

and David Ring (474 - 93).

 

The fourth day came and all his tasks were finished.        

On the fifth day divine Calypso sent him

from the isle bathed and wearing fragrant clothes,

and put on board a wine-skin of dark wine                                                265

and a big skin of water.  On board also

she put a knapsack full of much good food,

then poured him out a stern-wind, safe and warm.  

With joy in the wind astern, godlike Odysseus

set sails, but guided skillfully with the rudder.                                           270

And as he sat no sleep fell on his eyelids.

He watched the Pleiads and Boötes setting

and the Great Bear, that men nickname the Wain,

who turns in circles as she eyes Orion,

and alone has no share of the Ocean stream.                                              275

For so Calypso, the divine goddess, told him:

to voyage with the Bear on his left hand.

Seventeen days he sailed thus over the sea.

On the eighteenth appeared the shadowy hills

of the Phaiakian land, which, as it loomed,                                                280

seemed like a shield in shape in the misty sea.

But great Poseidon, back from the Ethiopians,

from hills of the Solymoi sighted him

sailing the sea! and with a heart still angrier

he shook his head and said to his own heart:                                              285

   "Bad news!  The gods made new plans for Odysseus

when I was away with the Ethiopians.  Now

he's near Phaiakian country, where he's fated

to escape his web of pains, that still enmesh him.              

I swear I'll plunge him into griefs enough!"                         290

     He crowded clouds together, churned the sea

with the trident in his hands, roused every gust

of every kind of wind.  With clouds he hid

both land and sea, and night woke in the sky.

East Wind, and South, and gusty West Wind struck,                               295

and ether-born North Wind that spun huge waves.  

Odysseus' heart and knees went slack with fear

and stunned he spoke to his own lofty heart.

   "How wretched I am!  Now what must happen to me?

I fear the goddess said all this unerringly                           300

that on the deep before I reached my country

I'd have one pain too many: now it's happening.

With what strange clouds Zeus shuts the wide sky up,

and makes the sea heave.  Round me rush the gusts

of all the winds.  Now my steep death is near.                                            305

Thrice, four times blest, the Greeks who perished then,

in wide Troy, doing a favor to the Atreidai!

Yes, I, too, should have died and met my doom

on that day when the bronze-tipped spears were thickest,

when Trojans shot at Achilles as he died.                            310

I would have got death-rites and good Greek fame.

And now my lot is a more dreadful death."                                               

 

     He spoke ; a huge wave struck him from above,

a fearful rush, and spun the boat around.

Far from his boat he fell, the steering oar                                        315

shot from his hands ; his mast was snapped in two

amid a dreadful blast of mingled winds.

His sail and yard shot far off to the sea.

Submerged for a long time, he lacked the strength

to crest the rush of the mighty wave : the clothes                           320

divine Calypso gave him weighed him down.

At last he rose, and from his mouth spat brine

that rippled in bitter currents from his head.

Though battered he did not forget his boat,

but lunging in the waves, took hold of her                                      325

and sat inside, and so escaped his death.

A great wave bore him back, forth, in its stream.

As when late-summer North-Wind carries thistles

across the plain, which densely cling together,

so winds on the ocean tossed her back and forth:                           330

now South Wind tosses her to North Wind to carry,

now East Wind hands her over to the West Wind.

 

     Then Cadmus' daughter saw him, lovely Ino,
Leucothea, who once had a mortal voice,
but now as a god is honored in the sea,                                                       335
Odysseus' painful wandering Ino pitied.
Ascending like a marsh-bird she appeared,
perched on the raft and said these words to him:
   "Poor thing, why does Poseidon, the dread earth-shaker,
so hate you that he buries you with evils?                                       340
He will not kill you, though he's dearly eager.
Do this -- you seem to have a little sense --
Discard your clothes and boat; the winds can hurl them.
But swim, and with your hands grope for a landing
in Phaiakia.  For there you will escape him.                                               345
Tie this veil round your chest; it's magical,
and wearing it you cannot die, or suffer.
But when your hands catch hold of solid shore,
then fling it far into the wine-dark sea
far from the land and turn your face away."                                              350
    She finished speaking, handed him the veil,
and slipped once more into the surging sea,
like a marsh-bird, and so a black wave hid her.
Much-suffering and divine Odysseus pondered,
and in great pain he spoke to his proud heart:                                           355

 

    “Again! But someone plays a trick on me

One of the gods, who tells me: leave the raft!

I won’t obey, since with my eyes I saw

How far the land is, which she called my haven.

But here’s what I will do—it seems the best:                                               360

As long as all the boat-beams hold together

I’m staying here to wait, enduring pain,

But if the waves come crashing on my boat,

I'll swim -- since nothing better comes to mind.”

     And while he pondered this in mind and heart,                                    365

A great wave rose from earth-shaking Poseidon.

Severe, dire, and cascading battered him,

As stormy wind stirs up a heap of chaff

And scatters the dry pieces to and fro,

So the long timbers scattered. But Odysseus                                              370

Straddled a beam, as if he raced a horse;

And stripped the clothes divine Kalypso gave him.

At once he tied the veil beneath his chest;

And dived into the brine with outstretched hands,

And swam like mad. Divine Earth-Shaker watched him,                         375

Shaking his head, he spoke to his own heart.

 

     “Now bearing many evils, roam the sea

Before you join with men whom Zeus has raised.

Yet I expect you won’t belittle this pain.”

    And then he lashed his steeds, whose manes are lovely,                        380

And came to Aigai, where his great house is.

Athena daughter of Zeus had other plans;

She held the winds at bay, except the North Wind,

Told them to stop and put them all to sleep,

Woke the North Wind and smoothed the waves before him                    385 

So he could come to the long-oared Phaiakians,

Zeus-born Odysseus, and ward off his death.

Two nights, two days, he tossed through salty waves

And many times his heart foresaw his death.

But when rose-fingered dawn brought the fourth day                  390

At last the wind sank and the sea was calm

And suddenly he saw the nearby land,

A quick glimpse, as a great wave lifted him.

As children see with joy their father's life

Returning, when he has long lain near death,                                            395

All gaunt with pain — for some bad demon hurts him,

Yet gods release him sweetly from the evil— 

So sweet the land and woods seemed to Odysseus.

Who swam on, trying to find land with his feet.

 

     But now as near as human shout can fly,                                              400
the rumble came to him of sea on rock:
for a great wave was roaring toward dry land
with dreadful moaning, spinning round it foam.
There was no place to anchor nor to beach,
but only jutting headlands, reefs, and cliffs.                                               405
Odysseus' knees dissolved, his dear heart, too,
and troubled, he addressed his haughty heart:

  "Ah me! Though Zeus has let me see this land
unhoped-for, and though I've crossed the gulf,
nowhere do I see escape from briny sea.                                         410
Out here are sharp rocks, over which the waves

roar foaming; but near land is only a crag-face
and there the water's deep, and my two feet
won't find a footing, nor will I escape.
As I climb out, a monstrous wave might whack me                                  415

against the rocks, and make my struggle nothing.
But if I swim out farther, looking landwards

for sloping shores and harbors from the sea,
I fear a sudden gust may snatch me up
and bear me sobbing on the fish-full deep;                                                 420  

or some great monster from the sea rush at me—
such beasts does Amphitrete nurse in hordes.

Oh! I know how Lord Poseidon hates me."

    

     And as he pondered in his mind and heart                     

a great wave bore him toward the craggy cliffs,                            425

that would have stripped his skin and smashed his bones,

but for a plan green-eyed Athena gave him:

with both hands lunging out, he grasped the rock

and held it, moaning, as a great wave passed.                   

So he escaped that one, but lunging back                                       430     

Again it struck—far-flung him to the deep.

As when an octopus dragged from its hole

has on its suckers pebble-clusters clinging,

so on the rocks the skin of his stout hands             

was stripped; and then a great wave covered him,                                     435     

and there the poor wretch would have died untimely,

had not bright-eyed Athena given a plan:

he got clear of the wave as it spewed shoreward,

and swam outside it, eyes to land, in hope               

of slanting shores and harbors from the sea.                                               440     

And as he swam he reached a river’s mouth,

fair-flowing, seeming like the best of spots,

devoid of rocks and sheltered from the wind.

He saw it flowing forth and prayed in his heart:               

    “Whoever you are, Lord, hear me; I have reached you                         445

At long last, fleeing from Poseidon’s threats;

the immortal gods have awe of him and men

who come as wanderers, as now I do.

I've reached your stream, and knees. I have suffered much.          

Have pity, Lord; I pray as your suppliant.”                                                450

 

      He spoke and the god restrained the rush and wave,

in front of him he calmed the sea and bore him

safe to the river’s mouth; he bent his knees

and mighty hands; the sea had tamed his heart.               

His skin was swollen, sea poured from his mouth                          455

and nostrils; lacking breath and speech he lay,

exhausted, for a great fatigue had come.

But when he breathed and roused his heart to strength,

he then indeed removed the goddess’ veil,             

and threw it to the seaward-flowing stream,                                               460     

where a great wave received it.  Quickly Ino

snatched it with loving hands.  He left the stream

and lay in the reeds, and kissed the fertile land,

and racked with pain he told his haughty heart,               

    “What's happening to me now?  And what is next?                              465

If I keep watch beside the river tonight,

a harmful frost and also gentle dew

will overcome my heart, that's faint and gasping;

a chilly river wind blows forth at dawn.                             

But, going past the hill and shady woods,                                      470

if I take sleep in cozy shrubs, if cold

and weakness leave, and pleasant sleep arrive,

I fear I might become a catch for beasts."

 

    And as he pondered, this way seemed the best:

to find the woods. He found them near the river                            475

but on high ground; he crept beneath twin shrubs

of olive, wild and tame, from one spot grown,

which no wet force of seething wind could pierce,

nor ever shining sun beat with its rays,

nor ever ceaseless rain break wholly through,                                            480

so intertwined and thickly set they grew.

He crept inside; and with his hands he heaped

a bed of leaves, for piles of them were near.

The bush could safely keep two men (or three!)

in winter time, however fierce the storm.                                        485

He looked with joy, much-grieved, divine Odysseus,

and hid himself beneath the heaps of leaves.

As when one hides a brand beneath black ash

in distant field, out where no neighbors are,

and saves a seed of fire where none else is,                                      490

just so Odysseus hid beneath the leaves.

Athene then poured sleep into his eyes

to stop his pain, and his dear lids she veiled.

 

*          *          *

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P r o p e r t i u s  IV,  3

 

transl. Elizabeth Malone,  May 2008

 

To her Lycotas: Arethusa's orders                           

(If you are mine when you're so often gone).
Still, if some part is smeared when you are reading,

My tears will be to blame – they make those smudges.
Or if the writing in some place is shaky,                                         5

            That is a signal my right hand is dying.

First through the whizzing bowstrings Bactra saw you,

Then a mailed Chinaman on an armored horse,
Then wintry Getae, Britain in bright chariots,       

            And Indians dark, burned by the eastern wave.     10        

Is this, then, married faith? The oath we swore

When a raw girl surrendered as you pressed her?
The torch that led me on my wedding night

Had drawn its black light from a toppled pyre.
I was sprinkled with the Styx; the bridal veil                                  15

Hung crooked, and no wedding god was there.

 

My prayer-slips hang from every gate, all useless.

This is the fourth camp-cloak that I have woven.

 

Whoever first pulled stakes from some poor tree

And made a trumpet rasp in hollow bones,                        20

He, not the lazing Sluggard, should plait rope

            And, little ass, forever feed your hunger.

 

But does the breastplate chafe your tender arms?

A great spear callous your unwarlike hands?

I’d rather those hurt you than some girl’s teeth                              25

Give your neck bite-marks that would make me cry.       

They say you’re thin from hunger:  but I hope

That gaunt look only comes from missing me.

 

But when the evening star brings bitter nights,

I kiss your armor, if any lies around.                                   30

I hate how the bedspread bunches to one side,

How slow the roosters are to sing of dawn.

These winter nights, I spin wool for the camps,

Or for your cloaks I cut the Tyrian fleeces;

 

I learn which way your foe, the Araxes, flows,                               35

How far a Parthian horse runs without water;

I learn by heart the map with its bright pictures,

What learned god arranged the world this way,

Where it is frozen stiff, and where heat-cracked,

And what wind blows the sails to Italy.                               40

 

Only my sister sits here.  Pale with worry,             

Nurse says your lateness is from winter weather.

 

Lucky Hippolyte got to fight, bare-breasted;

Her soft head hid beneath a savage helmet.

I wish they’d open camps to Roman girls!                          45

I’d be a trusty backpack for you, soldier.

Not even Scythian crags could slow me down,

When Jove with ice imprisons deepest streams.                 

 

All love is great but married love is greatest,

Venus herself fans this flame into life.                                  50

The doorsill’s gone to sleep.  Only on Kalends                                53

A single girl unlocks the locked-up Lares.                          

I like it when my puppy, Yapper, whines,                          55

And she alone claims your side of the bed.

 

I put flowers in the shrines, vervain at crossroads,

And Sabine juniper crackles on the old hearths.

And when the owl hoots from the neighbor’s rafter,

Or the oil-lamp sneezes, wanting sips of wine,                   60

That day announces death to this year’s lambs,

And girt-up priests are hungry for fresh profits.

 

It’s not that great – the glory of scaling Bactra

Or looting linens from a perfumed prince,

When lumps of lead whiz, shot by twisted slings,              65

And treacherous bowstrings twang and steeds run off;

Why would I want that shining Tyrian purple?                             51

Or a watery crystal flashing on my hand?             52

 

But if you want the sons of Parthia tamed,

            and a headless spear behind triumphal horses,

keep uncorrupt the treaty of my bed! 

            It's only on those terms I want you back;

And when I give Capena Gate your armor,

            I’ll write:  “Girl Grateful for a Husband Saved.”

 

*          *          *

 

Text of Propertius IV, 3  (note by Elizabeth Malone).   My text mostly uses Heyworth's 2007 text but mostly keeps the traditional line order, preserved in Barber's OCT.   It is not known whether Propertius thought in “stanzas,” but I spaced the lines thus, to show what seem to me units of sense.  But because the manuscript tradition is a notoriously bad one, and in other poems has many couplets demonstrably out of place, I tried not to “force” these units but left some couplets isolated, when I could not see their connection with what precedes or follows.  And I transposed lines 51-2 to follow 66, since they seem to refer to war spoils and make little sense in the midst of a description of home life.

                In these places I used an older reading rather than Heyworth's: 34 secta] lecta Heyworth.  38 dei] deo Heyworth.  46 essem] issem Heyworth.   49 aperto in W] rapto Heyworth. 53 ad sueta Palmer] assueta Heyworth.

 

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HAEC Arethusa suo mittit mandata Lycotae,

            cum totiens absis, si potes esse meus.

si qua tamen tibi lecturo pars oblita derit,

            haec erit e lacrimis facta litura meis;

aut si qua incerto fallet te littera tractu,                               5

            signa meae dextrae iam morientis erunt.

 

te modo uiderunt intentos Bactra per arcus,

             te modo munito ferreus hostis equo,

hibernique Getae, pictoque Britannia curru,

            ustus et Eoa decolor Indus aqua.                              10

 

haecne marita fides et pacta haec foedera nobis,

            cum rudis urgenti bracchia uicta dedi?

quae mihi deductae fax omen praetulit, illa

            traxit ab euerso lumina nigra rogo,

et Stygio sum sparsa lacu, nec recta capillis                        15

            uitta data est: nupsi non comitante deo.

 

omnibus heu portis pendent mea noxia uota;

            texitur haec castriis quarta lacerna tuis.

 

occidat immerita qui carpsit ab arbore uallum

            et struxit querulas rauca per ossa tubas,                  20

dignior obliquo funem qui torqueat Ocno

            aeternusque tuam pascat, aselle, famem.

 

dic mihi, num teneros urit lorica lacertos?

            num grauis imbelles atterit hasta manus?

haec noceant potius quam dentibus ulla puella                  25

            det mihi plorandas per tua colla notas.

diceris et macie uultum tenuasse; sed opto

            e desiderio sit color iste meo.

 

at mihi cum noctes induxit uesper amaras,

            si qua relicta iacent, osculor arma tua.                    30

tum queror in toto non sidere pallia lecto,

            lucis et auctores non dare carrnen aues.

noctibus hibernis castrensia pensa laboro

            et Tyria in chlamydas uellera secta tuas;    

 

et disco qua parte fluat uincendus Araxes,                          35

            quot sine aqua Parthus milia currat equus;           

cogor et e tabula pictos ediscere mundos,              

            qualis et haec docti sit positura dei. 

quae tellus sit lenta gelu, quae putris ab aestu,                  

            uentus in Italiam qui bene uela ferat.                      40

 

assidet una soror, curis et pallida nutrix                             

            peierat hiberni temporis esse moras.

 

felix Hippolyte nuda tulit arma papilla

            et texit galea barbara molle caput.

Romanis utinam patuissent castra puellis!              45

            essem militiae sarcina fida tuae,

nec me tardarent Scythiae iuga, cum Pater altas

            astrictam in glaciem frigore uertit aquas.   

 

omnis amor magnus; sed aperto in coniuge maior:

            hanc Venus, ut uiuat, uentilat ipsa facem. 50

limina surda tacent, rarisque ad sueta Kalendis     53

            uix aperit clausos una puella Lares,             54

Craugidos et catulae uox est mihi grata querentis: 55

            illa tori partem uindicat una tuam.

 

flore sacella tego, uerbenis compita uelo,                           

            et crepat ad ueteres herba Sabina focos.

siue in finitimo gemuit stans noctua tigno

            seu uoluit tangi parca lucerna mero,                       60

illa dies hornis caedem denuntiat agnis,

            succinctique calent ad noua lucra popae.

 

ne, precor, ascensis tanti sit gloria Bactris,

            raptaue odorato carbasa lina duci,

plumbea cum tortae sparguntur pondera fundae,             65

subdolus et uersis increpat arcus equis;

nam mihi quo Poenis nunc purpura fulgeat ostris             51

            crystallusque meas ornet aquosa manus?   52

 

 

sed, tua sic domitis Parthae telluris alumnis

            pura triumphantes hasta sequatur equos,

incorrupta mei conserua foedera lecti:

            hac ego te sola lege redisse uelim;                            70

armaque cum tulero portae uotiua Capenae,

            subscribam SALVO SALVA PVELLA VIRO.