Wednesday, May 10, 2017



Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto 1.6.29-40 (tr. A.L. Wheeler, rev. G.P. Goold):
That goddess, when all other deities abandoned the wicked earth,
remained alone on the god-detested place.        30
She causes even the ditcher to live in spite of his shackles
and to think that his limbs will be freed from the iron.
She makes the shipwrecked man, seeing no land on any side,
move his arms in the midst of the waves.
Oft has a man been abandoned by the skill and care of physicians,        35
but hope leaves him not though his pulses fail.
Those who are shut in prison hope for release, they say,
and many a one hanging on the cross still prays.
How many this goddess has prevented in the act of fastening the noose about their throats
from perishing by the death they had purposed!        40

haec dea, cum fugerent sceleratas numina terras,
    in dis invisa sola remansit humo.        30
haec facit ut vivat fossor quoque compede vinctus,
    liberaque a ferro crura futura putet.
haec facit ut, videat cum terras undique nullas,
    naufragus in mediis bracchia iactet aquis.
saepe aliquem sollers medicorum cura reliquit,        35
    nec spes huic vena deficiente cadit.
carcere dicuntur clausi sperare salutem,
    atque aliquis pendens in cruce vota facit.
haec dea quam multos laqueo sua colla ligantis
    non est proposita passa perire nece!        40
The same, tr. Peter Green:
That deity, Hope, when all other gods abandoned
    the wicked earth, remained: it's she who fills        30
even the shackled ditcher with zest for the future,
    faith that his legs will lose their chains;
it's she who keeps shipwrecked sailors swimming in mid-ocean
    with no land anywhere in sight.
Often the skill and care of doctors fail a patient,        35
    yet though his heartbeat wavers, his hopes stay high.
Those in prison are said to hope for deliverance,
    a crucified man still prays.
Many men, as they knotted the rope round their throat, this goddess
    headed off from the death they sought.        40
Commentary in Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto, Book 1. Edited with Introduction, Translation and Commentary by Jan Felix Gaertner (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 371-376.

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