Sospitatrix

Lucius and Isis
Milo Manara, Lucius and Isis

Provolutus denique ante conspectum deae et facie mea diu detersis vestigiis eius, lacrimis obortis, singultu crebro sermonem interficiens et verba devorans aio: “tu quidem, sancta et humani generis sospitatrix perpetua, semper fovendis mortalibus munifica, dulcem matris affectionem miserorum casibus tribuis. nec dies nec quies ulla ac ne momentum quidem tenue tuis transcurrit beneficiis otiosum, quin mari terraque protegas homines et depulsis vitae procellis salutarem porrigas dexteram, qua fatorum etiam inextricabiliter contorta retractas licia et Fortunae tempestates mitigas et stellarum noxios meatus cohibes. te superi colunt, observant inferi. tu rotas orbem, luminas solem, regis mundum, calcas Tartarum. tibi respondent sidera, redeunt tempora, gaudent numina, serviunt elementa. tuo nutu spirant flamina, nutriunt nubila, germinant semina, crescunt germina. tuam maiestatem perhorrescunt aves caelo meantes, ferae montibus errantes, serpentes solo latentes, beluae ponto natantes. at ego referendis laudibus tuis exilis ingenio et adhibendis sacrificiis tenuis patrimonio; nec mihi vocis ubertas ad dicenda quae de tua maiestate sentio sufficit, nec ora mille linguaeque totidem vel indefessi sermonis aeterna series. ergo quod solum potest religiosus quidem, sed pauper alioquin, efficere curabo: divinos tuos vultus numenque sanctissimum intra pectoris mei secreta conditum perpetuo custodiens imaginabor.”
(Apuleius, Met. 11.24.7-25)

Finally I prostrated myself before the goddess and wiped her feet for a long time with my face. Tears welled up in me. My voice broke with frequent sobs and I gulped my words as I spoke to her. “O holy and eternal saviour of mankind, you who ever bountifully nurture mortals, you apply the sweet affection of a mother to the misfortunes of the wretched. Neither a day nor a night nor even a tiny moment passes empty of your blessings: you protect men on sea and land, and you drive away the storm-winds of life and stretch forth your rescuing hand, with which you unwind the threads of the Fates even when they are inextricably twisted, you calm the storms of Fortune, and you repress harmful motions of the stars. The spirits above revere you, the spirits below pay you homage. You rotate the earth, light the sun, rule the universe, and tread Tartarus beneath your heel. The stars obey you, the seasons return at your will, deities rejoice in you, and the elements are your slaves. At your nod breezes breathe, clouds give nourishment, seeds sprout, and seedlings grow. Your majesty awes the birds travelling in the sky, the beasts wandering upon the mountains, the snakes lurking in the ground, and the monsters that swim in the deep. But my talent is too feeble to speak your praises and my inheritance too meagre to bring you sacrifices. The fullness of my voice is inadequate to express what I feel about your majesty; a thousand mouths and as many tongues would not be enough, nor even an endless flow of inexhaustible speech. I shall therefore take care to do the only thing that a devout but poor man can: I shall store your divine countenance and sacred godhead in the secret places of my heart, forever guarding it and picturing it to myself.” (tr. John Arthur Hanson)

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