Korakes

crow

This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

Κἀκεῖ διενυκτέρευσεν ἐπὶ δεινῶν καὶ ἀπόρων λογισμῶν, ὥστε καὶ παρελθεῖν εἰς τὴν Καίσαρος οἰκίαν διενοήθη κρύφα καὶ σφάξας ἑαυτὸν ἐπὶ τῆς ἑστίας ἀλάστορα προσβαλεῖν. ἀλλὰ καὶ ταύτης αὐτὸν ἀπέκρουσε τῆς ὁδοῦ δέος βασάνων· καὶ πολλὰ ταραχώδη καὶ παλίντροπα βουλεύματα τῆς γνώμης μεταλαμβάνων παρέδωκε τοῖς οἰκέταις ἑαυτὸν εἷς Καιήτην κατὰ πλοῦν κομίζειν, ἔχων ἐκεῖ χωρία καὶ καταφυγὴν ὥρᾳ θέρους φιλάνθρωπον, ὅταν ἥδιστον οἱ ἐτησίαι καταπνέωσιν. ἔχει δ’ ὁ τόπος καὶ ναὸν Ἀπόλλωνος μικρὸν ὑπὲρ τῆς θαλάττης. ἐντεῦθεν ἀρθέντες ἀθρόοι κόρακες ὑπὸ κλαγγῆς προσεφέροντο τῷ πλοίῳ τοῦ Κικέρωνος ἐπὶ γῆν ἐρεσσομένῳ· καὶ καθίσαντες ἐπὶ τὴν κεραίαν ἑκατέρωθεν οἱ μὲν ἐβόων, οἱ δ’ ἔκοπτον τὰς τῶν μηρυμάτων ἀρχάς, καὶ πᾶσιν ἐδόκει τὸ σημεῖον εἶναι πονηρόν. ἀπέβη δ’ οὖν ὁ Κικέρων, καὶ παρελθὼν εἷς τὴν ἔπαυλιν ὡς ἀναπαυσόμενος κατεκλίθη. τῶν δὲ κοράκων οἱ πολλοὶ μὲν ἐπὶ τῆς θυρίδος διεκάθηντο φθεγγόμενοι θορυβῶδες, εἷς δὲ καταβὰς ἐπὶ τὸ κλινίδιον ἐγκεκαλυμμένου τοῦ Κικέρωνος ἀπῆγε τῷ στόματι κατὰ μικρὸν ἀπὸ τοῦ προσώπου τὸ ἱμάτιον. οἱ δ’ οἰκέται ταῦθ’ ὁρῶντες, καὶ κακίσαντες ἑαυτοὺς εἰ περιμένουσι τοῦ δεσπότου φονευομένου θεαταὶ γενέσθαι, θηρία δ’ αὐτῷ βοηθεῖ καὶ προκήδεται παρ’ ἀξίαν πράττοντος, αὐτοὶ δ’ οὐκ ἀμύνουσι, τὰ μὲν δεόμενοι, τὰ δὲ βίᾳ λαβόντες ἐκόμιζον ἐν τῷ φορείῳ πρὸς τὴν θάλασσαν.
(Plutarch, Bios Kikerōnos 47.4-6)

And there he spent the night in dreadful and desperate calculations; he actually made up his mind to enter Caesar’s house by stealth, to slay himself upon the hearth, and so to fasten upon Caesar an avenging daemon. But a fear of tortures drove him from this course also; then, revolving in his mind many confused and contradictory purposes, he put himself in the hands of his servants to be taken by sea to Caieta, where he had lands and an agreeable retreat in summer time, when the breath of the Etesian winds is most pleasant. The place has also a temple of Apollo, a little above the sea. From thence a flock of crows flew with loud clamour towards the vessel of Cicero as it was rowed towards land; and alighting on either end of the sail-yard, some cawed, and others pecked at the ends of the ropes, and everybody thought that the omen was bad. Nevertheless Cicero landed, and going to his villa lay down to rest. Then most of the crows perched themselves about the window, cawing tumultuously, but one of them flew down upon the couch where Cicero lay with muffled head, and with its beak, little by little, tried to remove the garment from his face. The servants, on seeing this, rebuked themselves for waiting to be spectators of their master’s murder, while wild beasts came to his help and cared for him in his undeserved misfortune, but they themselves did nothing in his defence. So partly by entreaty, and partly by force, they took him and carried him in his litter towards the sea. (tr. Bernadotte Perrin)

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