Ovid among the barbarians of the Euxine Pontus. (Ovid III)
In the eighth year of our era, the cheerful and worldly Latin poet Ovid was in Elba island in the company of his friend Maximus whose full name was Marcus Aurelius Cotta Máximus, son of Marcus Valerius Messala Corvinus, the protector of some literates. There Ovid received from the emperor Augustus a letter with the charge of serious crimes and the order to appear quickly in Rome, where he received the immediate condemnation of exile to the frontiers of the Empire.
Before the end of the year, he must to leave Rome and Italy to the coasts of the Euxine Pontus, to the city of Tomis, present Constanza in Romania, on the border of the Getae and Sarmatians. A soldier accompanied him only on the outward journey. He was born on February 20, 43 BC, the next year after the murder of Julius Caesar; He was 52 years old. There he died 9 years later, in 17, sad and melancholy because he never got the forgiveness of Augustus nor of Tiberius to return to Rome or to leave at least that destiny so inhospitable.
In a letter to his friend Cotta Máximus, years later, collected in Pontic, II, 3.83-90, he reminds us of the day he received the unfortunate news:
Aethalian Ilva last saw us together and received the tears as they fell from our sorrowing cheeks. Then at your question whether the news was true which the ill repute of my sin had brought, I wavered between dubious confession and dubious denial, fear telling the tale of my timidity, and like the snow which rainy Auster melts tears of dismay welled up and coursed along my cheeks.
(Translation by Arthur Leslie Wheeler. The Loeb Classical Library.)
ultima me tecum vidit maestisque cadentes
excepit lacrimas Aethalis Ilva genis :
cum tibi quaerenti, num verus nuntius esset,
attulerat culpae quem mala fama meae,
inter confessum dubie dubieque negantem
haerebam, pavidas dante timore notas,
exemploque nivis, quam mollit aquaticus Auster,
gutta per attonitas ibat oborta genas.
As I said in an earlier article, http://en.antiquitatem.com/ovid-bimillenary-of-death-of-ovid we do not know precisely the exact day of his death, which should have been in winter, and the year we know from the information that Jerome includes in his book Eusebius Chronicles, Chronicon 2033, which he makes corresponding with the year 18 of Christ, with the Olympics 199th, with the 4th of the reign of Herod and with the 4th also of Tiberius. Interestingly in that same year Livy also died, but in his homeland Patavium, the Padova of today. As a result, two thousand years of his death are now fulfilled.
Jerome says in Chronicon 2033:
Ovid the poet died in exile, and is interred near the town of Tomi.
“Ovidius poeta in exsilio perit, et juxta oppidum Tomos sepelitur”
Ovid wrote there one of the most famous poems in Latin literature: one in which he remembers his last day in Rome, which has also been a subject of study and exercise for every student of Latin for centuries; I refer to the Elegy 3th of the book I of his Tristia. At the end of the article I will reproduce the whole poem, because it is not too long, only 102 verses, to be exact.
Ovid was not devoted to the forum or rhetoric, as his father intended, but to the poetry for which he was especially gifted. In Rome he led the life of the members of a wealthy society, carefree and ready to live in leisure and permanent fun.
In consonance with this kind of life, he first wrote love or rather erotic poems or elegies, since they refer to physical and carnal love and not to the idealized and romantic. Amores, The Art of Love (Ars amandi or Ars Amatoria), "The Cure for Love" (Remedia amoris) and Women's Facial Cosmetics" (Medicamina Faciei Femineae) are the works of this period and this theme, and he will then tackle other themes of more substance such as The Metamorphoses, and Fasti, a work not without irony. I have spoken briefly about that in the previous article.
Well, the works of erotic-love content undoubtedly impacted Roman society and clashed with the imperial policy of moralizing public life and marriage that Augustus intended to develop, according to the “mos maiorum” or customs of the ancestors. These books soon earned him the reputation of "immorality", which has not abandoned him to this day. The Christianity, that was becoming a religion of the Empire, contributed decisively to this severed judgment.
But was Ovid really an "immoral"? Time and again he tells us that his life was blameless. But then, what crime had he committed to suffer the harsh punishment? The poet himself gives us some clues in his own works and from the antiquity to the present day we continue searching in the texts to find the cause, which we do not really know. In fact, the most valuable information is the one that the poet himself brings in his Tristia (Sadnesses) and his Pontics (Letters from the Pontus) and it is in them where it is searched again and again.
He repeats in these works to the satiety and monotony three ideas: the description of his painful situation, inmany dangers and lacking any comfort to produce in his family and friends the feeling of absolute abandonment; The confession of which he was guilty, but only of an error and stupidity that not of a crime or malicious behavior; And the praise of the majesty and benevolence of the emperor and his family to await forgiveness.
The poet himself is aware and knows the criticism he has for repeating over and over again the same: his request for forgiveness od the emperor. Thus he says in Ex Ponto III, 9, 39-45:
Because these compositions of mine contain the same thought, Brutus, you report that somebody is carping at my verse : nothing (he says) but petitioning that I may enjoy a land nearer home, and talk of the throng of enemies encircling me. Ah, how the critic seizes on but one of many shortcomings ! If this is the only blemish of my Muse, 'tis well. (Translation by Arthur Leslie Wheeler. The Loeb Classical Library.)
Quod sit in his eadem sententia, Brute, libellis,
Carmina nescio quem carpere nostra refers:
Nil nisi me terra fruar ut propiore rogare,
Et quam sim denso cinctus ab hoste loqui.
O, quam de multis uitium reprehenditur unum!
Hoc peccat solum si mea Musa, bene est.
On several occasions he describes his plight in exile. It is sufficiently expressive the reference in Tristia V, 7,11-24, that some editions titrate precisely "Ovid among the barbarians." He says there in a letter of uncertain date and also addressed to a person not known by us:
" AMONG THE GOTHS "
The letter which you are reading has come to you from that land where the broad Hister adds his waters to the sea. If you are blessed with life and the sweetness of safety, bright is still one spot in my life. Doubtless you are asking, as ever, dearest one, how I fare, though this you can know even if I speak not. I am wretched -this is the brief sum of my woes- and so will all be who live subject to Caesar's wrath. What the people of the land of Tomis are like, amid what customs I live, are you interested to know ? Though upon this coast there is a mixture of Greeks and Getae, it derives more from the scarce pacified Getae. Greater hordes of Sarmatae and Getae go and come upon their horses along the roads. Among them there is not one who does not bear quiver and bow, and darts yellow with viper's gall. Harsh voices, grim countenances, veritable pictures of Mars, neither hair nor beard trimmed by any hand, right hands not slow to stab and wound with the knife which every barbarian wears fastened to his side. Among such men, alas ! your bard is living, forgetful of the loves with which he played : such men he sees, such men he hears, my friend. Would he might not live, but die among them, and yet so that his shade might leave this hated place ! (Translation by Arthur Leslie Wheeler. The Loeb Classical Library.)
Quam legis, ex ilia tibi venit epistula terra,
latus ubi aequoreis additur Hister aquis.
si tibi contingit cum dulci vita salute,
candida fortunae pars manet una meae,
scilicet, ut semper, quid agam, carissime, quaeris,
quamvis hoc vel me scire tacente potes.
sum miser; haec brevisest nostrorum summa malorum,
quisquis et offenso Caesare vivit ? erit.
turba Tomitanae quae sit regionis et inter
quos habitem mores, discere cura tibi est ?
mixta sit haec quamvis inter Graecosque Getasque,
a male pacatis plus trahit ora Getis.
Sarmaticae maior Geticaeque frequentia gentis
per medias in equis itque reditque vias.
in quibus est nemo, qui non coryton et arcum
telaque vipereo lurida felle gerat.
vox fera, trux vultus, verissima Martis imago,
non coma, non ulla barba resecta manu,
dextera non segnis fixo dare vulnera cultro,
quem iunctum lateri barbarus omnis habet.
vivit in his heu nunc, lusorum oblitus amorum,
hos videt, hos vates audit, amice, tuus :
atque utinam vivat non et moriatur in illis,
absit ab invisis et tamen umbra locis.
And then in Ponticae I, 3, 57-60 he completes the description of the unfortunate situation, although he certainly seems to be exaggerating reality because the shores of the Black Sea are a summer destination appealing to many people in neighboring countries:
" But," I suppose, " though I am separated from the land of my birth, I have yet had the good fortune to be in a place where men dwell ! " At the edge of the world I lie abandoned on the strand, where the buried earth supports constant snows. No fields here produce fruit, nor sweet grapes, no willows are green upon the bank, nor oaks upon the hill. Nor can you praise the sea more than the land, for the sunless waters ever heave beneath the madness of the winds. Wherever you gaze, lie plains with no tillers, vast steppes which no man claims. Close at hand on the right and left is a dreaded enemy terrifying us with imminent fear on both sides. One side is on the eve of feeling the Bistonian spears, the other the darts sped by the hand of the Sarmatian. (Translation by Arthur Leslie Wheeler. The Loeb Classical Library.)
at, puto, qua genitus fueram, tellure carenti
in tamen humano contigit esse loco,
orbis in extremi iaceo desertus harenis,
fert ubi perpetuas obruta terra nives.
non ager hic pomum, non dulces educat uvas,
non salices ripa, robora monte virent.
neve fretum laudes terra magis, aequora semper
ventorum rabie solibus orba tument.
quocumque aspicies, campi cultore carentes
vastaque, quae nemo vindicat, arva iacent.
hostis adest dextra laevaque a parte timendus,
vicinoque metu terret utrumque latus.
altera Bistonias pars est sensura sarisas,
altera Sarmatica spicula missa manu.
In various passages he attributes his sentence to an "error" and an indiscretion. For example, in Tristia II, 207 et seq.
Though two crimes, a poem and a blunder, have brought me ruin, of my fault in the one I
must keep silent, for my worth is not such that I may reopen thy wounds, O Caesar ; 'tis more than enough that thou shouldst have been pained once. The other remains : the charge that by an obscene poem I have taught foul adultery. (Translation by Arthur Leslie Wheeler. The Loeb Classical Library.)
perdiderint cum me duo crimina, carmen et error,
alterius facti culpa silenda mihi :
nam non sum tanti, renovem ut tua vulnera, Caesar,
quem nimio plus est indoluisse semel.
altera pars superest, qua turpi carmine factus
arguor obsceni doctor adulterii.
Thus in his time, as Ovid himself reports, he is known as "teacher of impudent adultery," and this was directly in conflict with the program of morality of Augustus and the Leges Iuliae which sought to defend the family and ancient traditions, punishing adultery with exile and fining those who had no children. But he defends himself by affirming the difference between literature and life, that it is one thing to write and another to maintain certain behavior. In the elegy addressed to a friend orator, he says in Tristia I, 9,55 and ss:
It had been best that light had failed my pursuit. And just as you are aided, my eloquent friend, by serious arts, so arts unlike them have injured me. Yet my life is well known to you ; you know that with those arts their author's character had no connexion ; you know that this poem I was written long ago, an amusement of my youth, and that those jests, though not deserving praise, were still mere jests. (Translation by Arthur Leslie Wheeler. The Loeb Classical Library.)
at nostrum tenebris utinam latuisset in imis !
expediit studio lumen abesse meo.
utque tibi prosunt artes, facunde, severae,
dissimiles illis sic nocuere mihi.
vita tamen tibi nota mea est. scis artibus illis
auctoris mores abstinuisse sui :
scis vetus hoc iuveni lusum mihi carmen, et istos
ut non laudandos, sic tamen esse iocos.
Could it then be the cause of exile this book, Ars Amandi, which also had already more than eight years circulating in Rome?
Rather it seems an added excuse to another motive of more substance, to the indiscretion to which shortly after, in the same book II, 103 and ss the poet makes reference:
why did I see anything ? Why did I make my eyes guilty ? Why was I so thoughtless as to harbour the knowledge of a fault ? Unwitting was Actaeon when he beheld Diana unclothed ; none the less he became the prey of his own hounds. Clearly, among the gods, even ill-fortune must be atoned for, nor is mischance an excuse when a deity is wronged. On that day when my ruinous mistake ravished me away, my house, humble but stainless, was destroyed humble indeed, (Translation by Arthur Leslie Wheeler. The Loeb Classical Library.)
Cur aliquid uidi? cur noxia lumina feci?
Cur imprudenti cognita culpa mihi?
Inscius Actaeon uidit sine ueste Dianam:
Praeda fuit canibus non minus ille suis.
Scilicet in superis etiam fortuna luenda est,
Nec ueniam laeso numine casus habet.
Illa nostra die, qua me malus abstulit error,
Parua quidem periit, sed sine labe domus:
The allusion to the myth of Acteon, who saw Diana or Artemis naked, the virgin goddess of the hunt and was transformed into deer devoured by their own dogs, unleashed the speculations and made several think that Ovide saw something that offended to the emperor, such as Livia, his wife; Or perhaps he saw some ceremony of the Good Goddess or Isis cults, forbidden to men.
Several other explanations or solutions have also been proposed to the riddle of what Ovid saw, what his indiscretion was. It has been thought that Ovid might have been acquainted with, or participated in, some scurrilous episode in the imperial family, in particular of his daughter, or granddaughter, or of the emperor himself; Or at some point he saw the wife of Augustus naked; Or that he even had some love affair with the emperor's daughter; Or that he was a connoisseur and participant in some meeting of some group not in favor of Augustus, or of supporters of Germanicus and not of Tiberius in succession in the context of the rivalries between the Julians and the Claudians. All these are unsupported hypotheses, which in any case have not been confirmed.
There is even a somewhat absurd assumption that would not deserve to be quoted unless it was the work of an expert and famous person in the study of Roman history, Jerome Carcopino (1881-1970), member of the French Academy with many other titles.
According to the imaginative proposal of this author, Ovid would actively belong to a kind of secret Neopythagorean sect that celebrates meetings where using the magic power of the numbers conspire or try to harm Augustus.
I do not want to go any further into this question, because I leave for another article the analysis of possible causes and a really striking proposal that appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century and which has resurfaced more recently with some force: I am referring to the possible non-existence of exile so famous, that it would have been but a fiction more of a creative poet that so many things fictioned or imagined, as the Heroides or letters of mythological women to their lovers.
Thus, in various passages he insists on the guilty fact of having seen something he should not have seen, but never clarifies it and we remain unknowingly despite the efforts that scholars have made since then to this day. And so we remained without knowing the fault.
The poet himself also explains the conditions of his sentence, in Tristia, II, 121 et seq.
Fallen then is my house, though pleasing to the Muses, beneath one charge albeit no small one -yet so fallen that it can rise again, if only time shall mellow the wrath of injured Caesar whose leniency in the penalty that has befallen is such that the penalty is milder than I feared. Life was granted me ; thy wrath halted ere it achieved my death : O sire, with what restraint hast thou used thy power ! Then too there is added for thou takest it not away my inherited wealth, as if life were too small a gift. Thou didst not condemn my deeds through a decree of the senate nor was my exile ordered by a special court. With words of stern invective -worthy of a prince- thou didst thyself, as is fitting, avenge thine own injury. And thy command, though severe and threatening, was yet mild in naming my punishment, for it calls me relegatus, not exile, and thou dost use therein language especially adapted to my fate. (Translation by Arthur Leslie Wheeler. The Loeb Classical Library.)
Corruit haec igitur Musis accepta, sub uno
Sed non exiguo crimine lapsa domus:
Atque ea sic lapsa est, ut surgere, si modo laesi
Ematuruerit Caesaris ira, queat.
Cuius in euentu poenae clementia tanta est,
Venerit ut nostro lenior illa metu.
Vita data est, citraque necem tua constitit ira,
O princeps parce uiribus use tuis!
Insuper accedunt, te non adimente, paternae,
Tamquam uita parum muneris esset, opes.
Nec mea decreto damnasti facta senatus,
Nec mea selecto iudice iussa fuga est.
Tristibus inuectus uerbis (ita principe dignum)
Vltus es offensas, ut decet, ipse tuas.
Adde quod edictum, quamuis immite minaxque,
Attamen in poenae nomine lene fuit:
Quippe relegatus, non exul, dicor in illo,
Priuaque fortunae sunt ibi uerba meae.
He reiterates in almost the same terms the same idea that he was not declared exul, ie "exiled" with loss of rights, but relegatus (relegated, expelled from the country maintaining fundamental rights) in Book V, 2bis, 11 And ss .; I avoid what would be a mere redundancy.
So the poet, without any process, was not actually exiled but confined to Tomis, without confiscation of property or loss of any other right.
As I said above, on the road to exile and in his own exile he continued to write poems and finding in it the only consolation. In that village, far from Rome, in a harsh and inhospitable climate inhabited by Getae and Sarmatians, who speak a language unintelligible by a Roman or Greek, Ovid wrote his famous poems "Tristia" ; His Letters from Pontus or Pontics (Ex Ponto) addressed to his wife and friends in Rome and also to some enemy, and in them some of the most exciting verses of Latin literature. There he also wrote a harsh invective, Ibis, against an individual who harmed his situation in exile.
Some literary critics, excessively cruel, consider these works as a mere exercise of empty rhetoric and servile petition for clemency. But they are absolutely unjust, because in these elegies is one of the most beautiful and exciting poems of Latin poetry, which can not tarnish some cooler and more formal literary and rhetorical resources.
I refer in particular to the third poem of the first book of his "Tristia", in which he reminds us of his last night in his house in Rome and his departure for exile. There are many other passages in which he shows a sense of love and gratitude to his wife, who has remained in Rome for not to suffer the hardships of a hostile land and take care of the family home; Or the consolation that poetry gives him, that he must declaim in the wind alone, in order not to forget Latin, his tongue, because no one speaks it there. He even learned the language of those barbarians and wrote some poem in it. Or the little consolation that gives him the fact that your parents have died and have not seen the misfortune of your child.
Passages and moments of interest are many. I will reproduce, fulfilling the objective of this blog, the aforementioned third complete elegy, in which the poet remembers the last night that happened in Rome and the sad moment of the departure. This elegy has excited thousands of students of Latin who had to translate and comment as a school exercise. To paraphrase the poet, I will also say that "when I remember those years in which I had to translate this poem, I still feel the emotion of that moment". May this elegy encourage the reader to a complete reading of the works of Ovid.
Tristia I, 3 THE NIGHT OF EXILE
When steals upon me the gloomy memory of that night which marked my latest hours in the
City - when I recall that night on which I left so many things dear to me, even now from my eyes the teardrops fall.
Already the morning was close at hand on which Caesar had bidden me to depart from Ausonia's furthest bounds. No time had there been or spirit to get ready what might suit best ; my heart had become numb with the long delay. I took no thought to select my slaves or my companions or the clothing and outfit suited to an exile. I was as dazed as one who, smitten by the fire of Jove, still lives and knows not that he lives. But when my very pain drove away the cloud upon my mind and at length my senses revived, I addressed for the last time as I was about to depart my sorrowing friends of whom, just now so many, but one or two remained. My loving wife was in my arms as I wept, herself weeping more bitterly, tears raining constantly over her innocent cheeks. My daughter was far separated from us on the shores of Libya, and we could not inform her of my fate. Wherever you had looked was the sound of mourning and lamentation, and within the house was the semblance of a funeral with its loud outcries. Men and women, children too, grieved at this funeral of mine ; in my home every corner had its tears. If one may use in a lowly case a lofty example, such was the appearance of Troy in the hour of her capture.
Now the voices of men and dogs were hushed and the moon aloft was guiding her steeds through the night. Gazing up at her, and by her light at the Capitol, which, all in vain, adjoined my home, I prayed : "Ye deities that dwell near by and ye temples never henceforth to be seen by my eyes, ye gods of this lofty city of Quirinus, whom I must leave, receive from me this my salutation for all time ! And although too late I take up the shield when wounded, yet disburden of hatreds this banishment of mine ; tell to that man divine what error beguiled me, that he may not think a fault to be a crime and that what you know he too, the author of my punishment, may feel. If the god be appeased I cannot be wretched."
With such prayer as this I appealed to the gods, my wife with many more, the sobs interrupting her cries half uttered. She even cast herself with flowing hair before the Lares, touching the cold hearth with quivering lips and pouring forth to the Penates before her many words not destined to avail the spouse she mourned.
Now night hurrying to her close refused me time for lingering, and the Parrhasian bear had
wheeled about her axis. What was I to do ? The enthralling love of country held me, yet that was the last night before the exile that had been decreed. Alas ! how many times did I say, as somebody hastened by, " Why do you hurry me ? Consider whither you are hastening or whence ! " Alas ! how many times did I falsely say that I had a definite hour suited to my intended journey. Thrice I touched the threshold, thrice did something call me back, and my very feet moved slowly to gratify my inclination. Oft when I had said farewell once again I uttered many words, and as if I were in the act of setting forth I gave the final kisses. Oft I gave the same parting directions, thus beguiling myself, with backward look at the objects of my love. At last I said, " Why hasten ? Tis Scythia whither I am going, 'tis Rome that I must leave. Both are good reasons for delay. My wife lives and 1 live, but she is being denied me forever and my home and the sweet inmates of that faithful home, and the comrades I have loved with a brother's love, O hearts knit to me with Theseus' faith ! Whilst I may I will embrace you. Never more perhaps shall I have the chance. The hour granted me is so much gain."
No longer delaying I left my words unfinished and embraced each object dearest to my heart.
During my talk and our weeping, bright in the lofty sky Lucifer had arisen, to me a baneful star.
I was torn asunder as if I were leaving my limbs behind a very half seemed broken from the body to which it belonged. Such was the anguish of Mettus when the steeds were driven apart, punishing his treachery. Then in truth arose the cries and laments of my people ; sorrowing hands beat upon naked breasts. Then in truth my wife, as she hung upon my breast at parting, mingled these sad words with my tears, " I cannot suffer you to be torn away. Together, together we will go ; I will follow you and be an exile's exiled wife. For me too the journey has been commanded, for me too there is room in the faraway land. My entrance will add but a small freight to your exile ship. You are commanded to flee your country by Caesar's wrath, I by my loyal love. This love shall be for me a Caesar."
Such was her attempt, as it had been before, and with difficulty did she surrender her resolve
for my profit. I set forth if it was not rather being carried forth to burial without a funeral
unkempt, my hair falling over my unshaven cheeks. She, frenzied by grief, was overcome, they say, by a cloud of darkness, and fell half dead in the midst of our home. And when she rose, her tresses fouled with unsightly dust, raising her body from the cold ground, she lamented now her deserted self, now the deserted Penates, and often called the name of her ravished husband, groaning as if she had seen the bodies of her daughter and myself resting on the high-built pyre; she wished to die, in death to lay aside all feeling, yet from regard for me she did not die. May she live ! and when I am far away -since thus the fates have willed -so live as by her aid to bring constant relief. (Translated by Arthur Leslie Wheeler. CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS. HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS. LONDON WILLIAM HEINEMANN LTD .MCM XXXIX)
Cum subit illius tristissima noctis imago,
Qua mihi supremum tempus in urbe fuit,
Cum repeto noctem, qua tot mihi cara reliqui,
Labitur ex oculis nunc quoque gutta meis.
Iam prope lux aderat, qua me discedere Caesar
Finibus extremae iusserat Ausoniae.
Nec spatium nec mens fuerat satis apta parandi:
Torquerant longa pectora nostra mora.
Non mihi seruorum, comites non cura legendi,
Non aptae profugo uestis opisue fuit.
Non aliter stupui, quam qui Iouis ignibus ictus
Viuit et est uitae nescius ipse suae.
Vt tamen hanc animi nubem dolor ipse remouit,
Et tandem sensus conualuere mei,
Alloquor extremum maestos abiturus amicos,
Qui modo de multis unus et alter erat.
Vxor amans flentem flens acrius ipsa tenebat,
Imbre per indignas usque cadente genas.
Nata procul Libycis aberat diuersa sub oris,
Nec poterat fati certior esse mei.
Quocumque aspiceres, luctus gemitusque sonabant,
Formaque non taciti funeris intus erat.
Femina uirque meo, pueri quoque funere maerent,
Inque domo lacrimas angulus omnis habet.
Si licet exemplis in paruis grandibus uti,
Haec facies Troiae, cum caperetur, erat.
Iamque quiescebant uoces hominumque canumque,
Lunaque nocturnos alta regebat equos.
Hanc ego suspiciens et ad hanc Capitolia cernens,
Quae nostro frustra iuncta fuere Lari,
"Numina uicinis habitantia sedibus," inquam,
"Iamque oculis numquam templa uidenda meis,
Dique relinquendi, quos urbs habet alta Quirini,
Este salutati tempus in omne mihi.
Et quamquam sero clipeum post uulnera sumo,
Attamen hanc odiis exonerate fugam,
Caelestique uiro, quis me deceperit error,
Dicite, pro culpa ne scelus esse putet.
Vt quod uos scitis, poenae quoque sentiat auctor,
Placato possum non miser esse deo."
Hac prece adoraui superos ego: pluribus uxor,
Singultu medios impediente sonos.
Illa etiam ante lares passis astrata capillis
Contigit exstinctos ore tremente focos,
Multaque in aduersos effudit uerba Penates
Pro deplorato non ualitura uiro.
Iamque morae spatium nox praecipitata negabat,
Versaque ab axe suo Parrhasis Arctos erat.
Quid facerem? blando patriae retinebar amore:
Vltima sed iussae nox erat illa fugae.
A! quotiens aliquo dixi properante "quid urges?
Vel quo festinas ire, uel unde, uide."
A! quotiens certam me sum mentitus habere
Horam, propositae quae foret apta uiae.
Ter limen tetigi, ter sum reuocatus, et ipse
Indulgens animo pes mihi tardus erat.
Saepe "uale" dicto rursus sum multa locutus,
Et quasi discedens oscula summa dedi.
Saepe eadem mandata dedi meque ipse fefelli,
Respiciens oculis pignora cara meis.
Denique "quid propero? Scythia est, quo mittimur," inquam
"Roma relinquenda est. utraque iusta mora est.
Vxor in aeternum uiuo mihi uiua negatur,
Et domus et fidae dulcia membra domus,
Quosque ego dilexi fraterno more sodales,
O mihi Thesea pectora iuncta fide!
Dum licet, amplectar: numquam fortasse licebit
Amplius. in lucro est quae datur hora mihi."
Nec mora, sermonis uerba imperfecta relinquo.
Complectens animo proxima quaeque meo.
Dum loquor et flemus, caelo nitidissimus alto,
Stella grauis nobis, Lucifer ortus erat.
Diuidor haud aliter, quam si mea membra relinquam,
Et pars abrumpi corpore uisa suo est.
Sic doluit Mettus tunc cum in contraria uersos
Vltores habuit proditionis equos.
Tum uero exoritur clamor gemitusque meorum,
Et feriunt maestae pectora nuda manus.
Tum uero coniunx umeris abeuntis inhaerens
Miscuit haec lacrimis tristia uerba meis:
"Non potes auelli. simul hinc, simul ibimus:" inquit,
"Te sequar et coniunx exulis exul ero.
Et mihi facta uia est, et me capit ultima tellus:
Accedam profugae sarcina parua rati.
Te iubet e patria discedere Caesaris ira,
Me pietas. pietas haec mihi Caesar erit."
Talia temptabat, sicut temptauerat ante,
Vixque dedit uictas utilitate manus.
Egredior, siue illud erat sine funere ferri,
Squalidus immissis hirta per ora comis.
Illa dolore amens tenebris narratur obortis
Semianimis media procubuisse domo:
Vtque resurrexit foedatis puluere turpi
Crinibus et gelida membra leuauit humo,
Se modo, desertos modo complorasse Penates.
Nomen et erepti saepe uocasse uiri,
Nec gemuisse minus, quam si nataeque uirique
Vidisset structos corpus habere rogos,
Et uoluisse mori, moriendo ponere sensus,
Respectuque tamen non periisse mei.
Viuat, et absentem, quoniam sic fata tulerunt.
Viuat ut auxilio subleuet usque suo.