Elementa

AA379227: Archaeology

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

‘Nunc docet ingentes saltu me iungere fossas,
nunc caput aërii scandentem prendere montis,
quo fugitur per plana gradu, simulacraque pugnae
excipere immissos curvato umbone molares
ardentesque intrare casas peditemque volantes
sistere quadriiugos. memini, rapidissimus ibat
imbribus assiduis pastus nivibusque solutis
Sperchios vivasque trabes et saxa ferebat,
cum me ille immissum, qua saevior impetus undae,
stare iubet contra tumidosque repellere fluctus,
quos vix ipse gradu totiens obstante tulisset.
stabam equidem, sed me referebat concitus amnis
et latae caligo fugae; ferus ille minari
desuper incumbens verbisque urgere pudorem.
nec nisi iussus abi: sic me sublimis agebat
gloria, nec duri tanto sub teste labores.
nam procul Oebalios in nubila condere discos
et liquidam nodare palen et spargere caestus,
ludus erat requiesque mihi; nec maior in istis
sudor, Apollineo quam fila sonantia plectro
cum quaterem priscosque virum mirarer honores.
quin etiam sucos atque auxiliantia morbis
gramina, quo nimius staret medicamine sanguis,
quid faciat somnos, quid hiantia vulnera claudat,
quae ferro cohibenda lues, quae cederet herbis,
edocuit monitusque sacrae sub pectore fixit
iustitiae, qua Peliacis dare iura verenda
gentibus atque suos solitus pacare biformes.
hactenus annorum, comites, elementa meorum
et memini et meminisse iuvat: scit cetera mater.’
(Statius, Ach. 138-167)

‘Anon he teaches me to span great ditches in a jump, to climb and grasp an airy mountain peak as if racing over the level; in mock battle to receive flying boulders on my curving shield boss, to enter burning huts and stop hurtling chariots on foot. I remember when Sperchios was flowing his fastest, fed on continual rains and melted snow, carrying live trees and rocks; Chiron would tell me to get in where the torrent’s current was fiercest and stand against it, repelling the swollen waves that he himself would hardly have withstood with so many feet. I stood, but the angry river and the mist of his broad rush took me back. He bore down on me with savage threats and scolded to shame me. I did not leave till ordered, so high glory urged me, and before so mighty a witness labours were light. For to hide Oebalian quoits far up in the sky and knot holds in the slippery wrestling match and scatter boxing gloves were my play and relaxation, and toil therein no greater than when I plucked the sounding strings with Apollo’s quill and marvelled at the glories of the men of old. He even taught me of juices and grasses to aid in sickness, of medicine to stanch fast-flowing blood, what brings sleep, what closes gaping wounds, what plague should be checked by steel, what yields to herbs; and he fixed in my mind the precepts of sacred justice, whereby he used to give laws for Pelion’s tribes to reverence and pacify his own twiforms. So far, comrades, I remember the training of my early years and joy in the memory. My mother knows the rest.’ (tr. David Roy Shackleton-Bailey)

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