Sunday, December 01, 2013


A Curse

Ovid, Ibis 107-126 (tr. J.H. Mozley):
May the earth refuse thee her fruits and the river his waters, may wind and breeze deny their breath. May the sun not be warm for thee, nor Phoebe bright, [110] may the clear stars fail thy vision. May neither Vulcan nor the air lend thee their aid, nor earth nor sea afford thee any path. Mayst thou wander an exile and destitute, and haunt the doors of others, and beg a little food with trembling mouth. [115] May neither thy body nor thy sick mind be free from querulous pain, may night be to thee more grievous than day, and day than night. Mayst thou ever be piteous, but have none to pity thee; may men and women rejoice at thy adversity. May hatred crown thy tears, and mayst thou be thought worthy, [120] having borne many ills, to bear yet more. And (what is rare) may the aspect of thy fortune, though its wonted favour be lost, bring thee but ill-will. Mayst thou have cause enough for death, but no means of dying; may thy life be compelled to shun the death it prays for. [125] May thy spirit struggle long ere it leave thy tortured limbs, and rack thee first with long delaying.
The Latin:
Terra tibi fruges, amnis tibi deneget undas,
    Deneget afflatus ventus et aura suos.
Nec tibi sol calidus, nec sit tibi lucida Phoebe,
    Destituant oculos sidera clara tuos.        110
Nec se Vulcanus nec se tibi praebeat aër,
    Nec tibi det tellus nec tibi pontus iter.
Exul, inops erres, alienaque limina lustres,
    Exiguumque petas ore tremente cibum.
Nec corpus querulo nec mens vacet aegra dolore,        115
    Noxque die gravior sit tibi, nocte dies.
Sisque miser semper, nec sis miserabilis ulli:
    Gaudeat adversis femina virque tuis.
Accedat lacrimis odium, dignusque puteris,
    Qui mala cum tuleris plurima, plura feras.        120
Sitque, quod est rarum, solito defecta favore
    Fortunae facies invidiosa tuae.
Causaque non desit, desit tibi copia mortis:
    Optatam fugiat vita coacta necem:
Luctatusque diu cruciatos spiritus artus        125
    Deserat, et longa torqueat ante mora.
Phoebe is the moon, Vulcan fire. Commentary on these lines, from P. Ovidii Nasonis Ibis: ex novis codicibus edidit, scholia vetera, commentarium cum prolegomenis, appendice, indice addidit R. Ellis (Oxonii: e Typographeo Clarendoniano, 1881), pp. 110-111:

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