Thursday, November 08, 2012


Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book I

Excerpts from Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book I (tr. Frank Justus Miller, rev. G.P. Goold):

All means should first be tried, but what responds not to treatment must be cut away with the knife, lest the untainted part also draw infection.

cuncta prius temptanda, sed inmedicabile curae
ense recidendum, ne pars sincera trahatur.
213 (Jupiter speaking):
And as a god disguised in human form [I] travelled up and down the land.

et deus humana lustro sub imagine terras.
322-323 (description of Deucalion and Pyrrha, would make a good epitaph for a husband and wife):
There was no better man than he, none more scrupulous of right, nor than she was any woman more reverent of the gods.

non illo melior quisquam nec amantior aequi
vir fuit aut illa metuentior ulla deorum.
Who would believe it unless ancient tradition vouched for it?

quis hoc credat, nisi sit pro teste vetustas?
414-415 (on birth of humans from stones thrown by Deucalion and Pyrrha, quoted by Thoreau in Walden):
Hence come the hardness of our race and our endurance of toil; and we give proof from what origin we are sprung.

inde genus durum sumus experiensque laborum
et documenta damus qua simus origine nati.
500-502 (Apollo gazing on Daphne):
He marvels at her fingers, hands, and wrists, and her arms, bare to the shoulder; and what is hid he deems still lovelier.

                              laudat digitosque manusque
bracchiaque et nudos media plus parte lacertos;
si qua latent, meliora putat.
553-556 (one of the first tree-huggers, Apollo embraces Daphne, who has just been turned into a laurel tree):
But even now in this new form Apollo loved her; and placing his hand upon the trunk, he felt the heart still fluttering beneath the bark. He embraced the branches as if human limbs, and pressed his lips upon the wood.

hanc quoque Phoebus amat positaque in stipite dextra
sentit adhuc trepidare novo sub cortice pectus
conplexusque suis ramos ut membra lacertis
oscula dat ligno.
585-587 (Inachus mourns his daughter Io, applicable to any father whose daughter is missing):
He knows not whether she still lives or is among the shades. But, since he cannot find her anywhere, he thinks she must be nowhere, and his anxious soul forbodes things worse than death.

                                          nescit, vitane fruatur
an sit apud manes; sed quam non invenit usquam,
esse putat nusquam atque animo peiora veretur.
661-663 (spoken by the river-god Inachus, on one of the disadvantages of being immortal):
And even by death I may not end my crushing woes. It is a dreadful thing to be a god, for the door of death is shut to me, and my grief must go on without end.

nee finire licet tantos mihi morte dolores;
sed nocet esse deum, praeclusaque ianua leti
aeternum nostros luctus extendit in aevum.

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