Ecce anus in mediis residens annosa puellis
sacra faciet Tacitae (nec tamen ipsa tacet),
et digitis tria tura tribus sub limine ponit,
qua brevis occultum mus sibi fecit iter;
tunc cantata ligat cum fusco licia plumbo
et septem nigras versat in ore fabas,
quodque pice adstrinxit, quod acu traiecit aëna,
obsutum maenae torret in igne caput;
vina quoque instillat: vini quodcumque relictum est,
aut ipsa aut comites, plus tamen ipsa, bibit.
“hostiles linguas inimicaque vinximus ora”
dicit discedens ebriaque exit anus.
(Ovid, Fast. 2.571-582)

Lo, an old hag, seated among girls, performs rites in honour of Tacita (“the Silent Goddess”), but herself is not silent. With three fingers she puts three lumps of incense under the threshold, where the little mouse has made for herself a secret path. Then she binds enchanted threads together with dark lead, and mumbles seven black beans in her mouth; and she roasts in the fire the head of a small fish which she has sewed up, made fast with pitch, and pierced through and through with a bronze needle. She also drops wine on it, and the wine that is left over she or her companions drink, but she gets the larger share. Then as she goes off she says, “We have bound fast hostile tongues and unfriendly mouths.” So exit the old woman drunk. (tr. James George Frazer, revised by George Patrick Goold)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: