Abruptum

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Quis rude et abscisum miseris animantibus aequor
fecit iter solidaeque pios telluris alumnos
expulit in fluctus pelagoque immisit hianti,
audax ingenii? nec enim temeraria virtus
illa magis, summae gelidum quae Pelion Ossae,
iunxit anhelantemque iugis bis pressit Olympum.
usque adeone parum lentas transire paludes
stagnaque et angustos submittere pontibus amnes?
imus in abruptum gentilesque undique terras
fugimus exigua clausi trabe et aëre nudo.
inde furor ventis indignataeque procellae
et caeli fremitus et fulmina plura Tonanti.
ante rates pigro torpebant aequora somno,
nec spumare Thetis nec spargere nubila fluctus
gaudebant. visis tumuerunt puppibus undae,
inque hominem surrexit hiems. tunc nubila Plias
Oleniumque pecus, solito tunc peior Orion.
(Statius, Silv. 3.2.61-77)

Who made the sea, untried and sundered, into a highway for hapless mankind, driving the loyal foster sons of solid earth into the waves, hurling them into the ocean’s jaws? Bold of spirit was he! Not more venturesome the courage that joined snowy Pelion to Ossa’s peak and crushed panting Olympus under two mountains. Was it not enough to cross sluggish swamps and meres and set straitened rivers under bridges? We go into the abyss, fleeing our native lands in all directions, confined by a small plank and the open air. Hence raging winds and indignant tempests and a roaring sky and more lightning for the Thunderer. Before ships were, the sea lay plunged in torpid slumber. Thetis did not joy to foam nor billows to splash the clouds. Waves swelled at sight of ships and tempest rose against man. ‘Twas then that Pleiad and Olenian Goat were clouded and Orion worse than his wont. (tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey)

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