Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Study Abroad

Propertius 3.21 (tr. G.P. Goold):
I am constrained to embark on distant travel to learned Athens, that the long journey may free me from oppressive love, for my passion for my sweetheart grows steadily with looking at her: love itself provides its chief source of sustenance. I have tried all means of escape in any quarter: but on every side the god is there in person to assail me. But she receives me hardly ever or just once after many snubs: or if she comes to me, she sleeps fully dressed on the edge of the bed.

There is only one remedy: if I travel to another land, love will be as far from my mind as Cynthia from my eyes. Up now, my friends, and launch a ship upon the sea, and draw lots in pairs for places at the oars, and hoist to the mast-top the fair-omened sails: already the breeze speeds the mariner over his watery path. Farewell, ye towers of Rome, and farewell, friends, and you, sweetheart, however you have treated me, farewell!

So now I shall sail as a new guest of the Adriatic, and now be forced to approach with prayer the gods of the roaring waves. Then when my yacht has crossed the Ionian and rested its weary sails in the calm waters at Lechaeum, for what remains of the journey, hasten ye, my feet, to endure the toil, where the Isthmus beats back either sea from the land. Then when the shores of Piraeus' haven receive me, I shall ascend the long arms of Theseus' Way.

There I will begin to improve my mind in Plato's Academy or in the garden of sage Epicurus; or I will pursue the study of language, the weapon of Demosthenes, and savour the wit of elegant Menander; or at least painted panels will ensnare my eyes, or works of art wrought in ivory or, better, in bronze. Both the passage of time and the sea's far-sundering will ease the wounds that linger in my silent breast: or if I die, it will be naturally and not laid low by a shameful love: in either case the day of my death will bring me no dishonour.

Magnum iter ad doctas proficisci cogor Athenas
    ut me longa gravi solvat amore via.
crescit enim assidue spectando cura puellae:
    ipse alimenta sibi maxima praebet amor.
omnia sunt temptata mihi, quacumque fugari        5
    posset: at ex omni me premit ipse deus.
vix tamen aut semel admittit, cum saepe negarit:
    seu venit, extremo dormit amicta toro.

unum erit auxilium: mutatis Cynthia terris
    quantum oculis, animo tam procul ibit amor.        10
nunc agite, o socii, propellite in aequora navem,
    remorumque pares ducite sorte vices,
iungiteque extremo felicia lintea malo:
    iam liquidum nautis aura secundat iter.
Romanae turres et vos valeatis, amici,        15
    qualiscumque mihi tuque, puella, vale!

ergo ego nunc rudis Hadriaci vehar aequoris hospes,
    cogar et undisonos nunc prece adire deos.
deinde per Ionium vectus cum fessa Lechaeo
    sedarit placida vela phaselus aqua,        20
quod superest, sufferre, pedes, properate laborem,
    Isthmos qua terris arcet utrumque mare.
inde ubi Piraei capient me litora portus,
    scandam ego Theseae bracchia longa viae.

illic vel stadiis animum emendare Platonis        25
    incipiam aut hortis, docte Epicure, tuis;
persequar aut studium linguae, Demosthenis arma,
    libaboque tuos, culte Menandre, sales;
aut certe tabulae capient mea lumina pictae,
    sive ebore exactae, seu magis aere, manus.        30
et spatia annorum et longa intervalla profundi
    lenibunt tacito vulnera nostra sinu:
seu moriar, fato, non turpi fractus amore:
    aeque erit illa mihi mortis honesta dies.

6 posset Richards: possit Ω
8 amicta Scaliger: amica Ω
25 stadiis Fonteine, Broekhuyzen: studiis Ω
28 libaboque Suringar: librorumque Ω; culte Heinsius: docte Ω

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