Ensiferos

Giovanni Battista Cipriani, Chiron leert Achilles boogschieten, 1776
Giovanni Battista Cipriani, Chiron instructing Achilles in the bow (1776)

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

‘Vix mihi bissenos annorum torserat orbes
vita rudis, volucris cum iam praevertere cervos
et Lapithas cogebat equos praemissaque cursu
tela sequi; saepe ipse gradu me praepete Chiron,
dum velox aetas, campis admissus agebat
omnibus, exhaustumque vago per gramina passu
laudabat gaudens atque in sua terga levabat.
saepe etiam primo fluvii torpore iubebar
ire supra glaciemque levi non frangere planta.
hoc puerile decus. quid nunc tibi proelia dicam
silvarum et saevo vacuos iam murmure saltus?
numquam ille imbelles Ossaea per avia dammas
sectari aut timidas passus me cuspide lyncas
sternere, sed tristes turbare cubilibus ursos
fulmineosque sues, et sicubi maxima tigris
aut seducta iugis fetae spelunca leaenae.
ipse sedens vasto facta exspectabat in antro,
si sparsus nigro remearem sanguine; nec me
ante nisi inspectis admisit ad oscula telis.
iamque et ad ensiferos vicina pube tumultus
aptabar, nec me ulla feri Mavortis imago
praeteriit. didici, quo Paeones arma rotatu,
quo Macetae sua gaesa citent, quo turbine contum
Sauromates falcemque Getes arcumque Gelonus
tenderet et flexae Balearicus actor habenae
quo suspensa trahens libraret vulnera tortu
inclusumque suo distingueret aëra gyro.
vix memorem cunctos, etsi bene gessimus, actus.’
(Statius, Ach. 110-137)

‘Scarce had my raw life turned twice six years when he had me run faster than the swift stags and Lapith horses and chase the darts I flung. Often would Chiron himself, while his age ran swift, pursue me at gallop all over the plains in headlong career, and when I was exhausted in my wanderings through the meads he would joyfully praise me and hoist me onto his back. Often too at the first freezing of the river he would bid me walk over it nor break the ice with lightsome foot. Such was my boyish glory. Why tell you of forest fights and glens now empty of savage growls? He would never let me chase unwarlike deer through Ossa’s wilds or lay timid lynxes low with my spear; I must rouse grim bears from their dens and boars like thunderbolts or mayhap a mighty tigress’ lair or a hidden cavern on the mountain that housed a lioness and her cubs. Himself would sit in his vast cave and wait for my exploits: would I return splashed with black blood? Nor did he admit me to his kiss until he had inspected my weapons. And now I was making ready for affrays of the sword with my neighbour folk; no aspect of fierce Mavors passed me by. I learned how the Paeonians whirl their arms, how the Macetae speed their javelins, with what a spin the Sarmatian plies his stake, the Gete his falchion, the Gelonian his bow, how the Balearic driver of the twisted sling swings his missile aloft with balanced pull, marking out the air he comprises in its circle. I could scarce recall all I did, though I did it well.’ (tr. David Roy Shackleton-Bailey)

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