Stauroisin

Diego Velázquez, Cristo crucificado, 1632
Diego Velázquez, Cristo crucificado (1632)

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

Οἱ δ’ ἐπεὶ ἐκ πόλιος κατέβαν, τάχα δ’ ἀγρὸν ἵκοντο,
τείχεος ἔκτοσθεν· μέγα δέ σφισι φαίνετο ἔργον.
ἕστηκε ξύλον αὖον ὅσον τ’ ὄργυι’ ὑπὲρ αἴης,
οἷον δὲ τρέφει ἔρνος ἀνὴρ ἐριθηλὲς ἐλαίης·
τόσσον ἔην μῆκος, τόσσον πάχος εἰσοράασθαι.
σειρὴν δὲ πλεκτὴν ἐξ αὐτοῦ πειρήσαντες
εἴρυσαν ἠνορέῃ πίσυνοι καὶ κάρτεϊ χειρῶν
δήμιοι, οἳ κατ’ ἀγῶνας ἐϋπρήσεσκον ἕκαστα·
ἐς μέσσον δ’ ἀνάγοντ’, ἐκ δ’ ἄμφω χεῖρας ἀνέσχον,
σὺν δὲ πόδας χεῖράς τε δέον θυμαλγέϊ δεσμῷ.
πλείοσιν ἐν δεσμοῖσι δέον, μᾶλλον δ’ ἐπίεζον·
ἐν δ’ αὐτὸς κίεν ᾗσι προθυμίῃσι πεποιθώς·
“ἀλλὰ τί κεν ῥέξαιμι; θεὸς διὰ πάντα τελευτᾷ.”
ἐκ μέν οἱ χλαῖνάν τε χιτῶνά τε εἵματ’ ἔδυσαν
παῖδες ὑπέρθυμοι καὶ καὶ ἐπὶ κλήρους ἐβάλοντο.
δεξάμενοι δ’ ἄρα τοί γε διαστάντες τανύουσι
πέπληγόν θ’ ἱμᾶσιν, ὁμόκλησάν τ’ ἐπέεσσι,
κίονα δ’ ὑψηλὴν ἔρυσαν πέλασάν τέ μιν αὐτὸν
ὀρθὸν ἐν ἱστοπέδῃ, ἐκ δ’ αὐτοῦ πείρατ’ ἀνῆψαν
σταυροῖσιν πυκινοῖσι διαμπερὲς ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα.
ἀρνειῷ μιν ἔγωγε ἐΐσκω πηγεσιμάλλῳ
ὅν ῥά τε ποιμὴν ἀγρῷ ἐπ’ εἰροπόκοις ὀΐεσσι
συμμάρψας δόνακας μυρίκης τ’ ἐριθηλέας ὄζους
κείρει· ἀνὴρ δέ κεν οὔ τι θεοῦ νόον εἰρύσσαιτο.
ὣς ὁ μὲν αὖθι λέλειπτο, ταθεὶς ὀλοῷ ἐνὶ δεσμπῷ,
ὥρῃ ἐν εἰαρινῇ, ὅτε τ’ ἤματα μακρὰ πέλονται·
οὐδέ τι κινῆσαι μελέων ἦν οὐδ’ ἀναεῖραι,
οὐδὲ στηρίξαι ποσὶν ἔμπεδον, οὐδ’ ἐπιβῆναι.
οἱ δ’ ἐπελώβευον καὶ ἐκερτόμεον ἐπέεσσι,
μάψ, ἀτὰρ οὐ κατὰ κόσμον, ἐς ἠέλιον καταδύντα.
αὐτὰρ ὃ θυμὸν ἔχων ὃν καρτερόν, ὡς τὸ πάρος περ,
τρὶς μὲν ἔπειτ’ ἤϋσεν ὅσον κεφαλὴ χάδε φωτός,
στεῦτο δὲ διψάων, πιέειν δ’ οὐκ εἶχεν ἑλέσθαι·
τρὶς δὲ μεθῆκε βίη· τὸ δὲ τέτρατον ἤθελε θυμός,
ἀλλ’ οὐ γάρ οἱ ἔτ’ ἦν ἲς ἔμπεδος οὐδέ τι κῖκυς.
(Patricius(?), Homerocentones 44.18-52)

When they had gone down from the city, quickly they came to the field, outside the wall; and there appeared to them a great work. There stands, about a fathom’s height above the ground, a dry stump, as when a man rears a lusty sapling of an olive; so huge it was in length, so huge in breadth to look upon. They made fast* to his body a twisted rope and drew him up, trusting in their valor and the strength of their hands, men from the community, who at the games arranged everything properly; and they led him into the middle and put up both his hands, and bound his feet and hands with galling bonds. They bound him with yet more bonds and drew them tighter; and he himself moved among them, confident in his zeal: “But what could I do? It is God who brings all things to their end.” They stripped him of his garments, his cloak and tunic, these proud sons, and cast lots for them. And when they had taken him they stood in a circle and stretched him and struck him with reins, and eagerly scolded him with words, and hoisted him up the tall pillar and drew him closer, upright in the step of the mast, and made fast the ropes from it to the stout pole**, this way and that. To a ram I liken him, a ram of thick fleece that a shepherd in the field, guarding his woolly sheep and gathering handfuls of reeds and luxuriant branches of tamarisk, shaves: but a man will in no way thwart the purpose of God. So he was left there, stretched in his horrible bindings, in the season of spring, when the long days come; and he could in no way stir his limbs or raise them up, nor plant his feet firmly or gain purchase. They mocked and jeered at him in their talk, recklessy and without shame, at sunset. But he with his mighty heart, just as before, thrice then uttered a shout as great as his head could hold, pressing forward eagerly in his thirst, but he had no way to drink. Thrice he gave up the effort; the fourth time he was eager, but no longer had he anything of strength or might remaining.

* The author seems to have confused two Homeric verbs; he ought to have written πειρήναντες.
** Σταυρός, rare in Homer and signifying a ‘stake’ or ‘pole’, in later Greek became the word for the cross of the crucifixion.

(tr. David Bauwens, with his notes; based on August Taber Murray’s translation of the Iliad as revised by George E. Dimock)

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