Tuesday, August 30, 2016


No Escape

Propertius 3.18.21-28 (tr. H.E. Butler):
And yet hither at last come all, come noble and come base;
bitter is the way, but all must tread it;
all must assuage the triple throat of the baying hound,
and climb the boat of that grim greybeard that waits for all.
Though a man seek to save himself by walls of iron and of brass,        25
yet death shall drag forth his head from its sheltering place.
Beauty saved not Nireus nor might Achilles;
nor was Croesus succoured by wealth born of Pactolus stream.

sed tamen huc omnes, huc primus et ultimus ordo:
    est mala, sed cunctis ista terenda via est.
exoranda canis tria sunt latrantia colla,
    scandenda est torvi publica cumba senis.
ille licet ferro cautus se condat et aere,        25
    mors tamen inclusum protrahit inde caput.
Nirea non facies, non vis exemit Achillem,
    Croesum aut, Pactoli quas parit umor, opes.
Notes explaining the obvious:
the baying hound: Cerberus, the three-headed dog of the underworld
that grim greybeard: Charon, ferryman of the underworld
Nireus: handsomest of the Greeks after Achilles, according to Homer, Iliad 2.673-674
Pactolus: river whose sands were rich in gold

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