Iamque vident post terga diem solemque relictum
iam pridem, notis extorres finibus orbis,
per non concessas audaces ire tenebras
ad rerum metas extremaque litora mundi.
nunc illum, pigris immania monstra sub undis
qui ferat, Oceanum, qui saevas undique pristes
aequoreosque canes, ratibus consurgere prensis
(accumulat fragor ipse metus), iam sidere limo
navigia et rapido desertam flamine classem
seque feris credunt per inertia fata marinis
iam non felici laniandos sorte relinqui.
atque aliquis prora caecum sublimis ab alta
aëra pugnaci luctatus rumpere visu,
ut nihil erepto valuit dinoscere mundo,
obstructa in tales effundit pectora voces:
“quo ferimur? fugit ipse dies orbemque relictum
ultima perpetuis claudit natura tenebris.
anne alio positas ultra sub cardine gentes
atque alium flabris intactum quaerimus orbem?
di revocant rerumque vetant cognoscere finem
mortales oculos: aliena quid aequora remis
et sacras violamus aquas divumque quietas
(Albinovanus Pedo, fr. 1)
And now they see day and sun long left behind;
Banished from the familiar limits of the world
They dare to pass through forbidden shades
To the bounds of things, the remotest shores of the world.
Now they think Ocean, that breeds beneath its sluggish waves
Terrible monsters, savage sea-beasts everywhere,
And dogs of the sea, is rising, taking the ships with it
(The very noise increases their fears): now they think the vessels
Are sinking in the mud, the fleet deserted by the swift wind,
Themselves left by indolent fate to the sea-beasts,
To be torn apart unhappily.
Someone high on the prow struggles to break
Through the blinding mist, his sight battling.
He can discern nothing—the world has been snatched away.
He pours his frustrated heart into words:
‘Where are we being carried? Day itself is in flight,
Furthest nature shuts off in everlasting shadows
The world we have left. Are we looking for races
Beyond, in another clime, a new world untouched by breezes?
The Gods call us back, forbid us to know the end of creation
With mortal eyes. Why do our oars violate seas that are not ours,
Waters that are holy? Why do we disturb the quiet home of the Gods?’
(tr. Michael Winterbottom)