Hic quoque monstra domat, rutili quibus arce cerebri
ad frontem coma tracta iacet nudataque cervix
saetarum per damna nitet, tum lumine glauco
albet aquosa acies ac vultibus undique rasis
pro barba tenues perarantur pectine cristae.
strictius assutae vestes procera cohercent
membra virum, patet his altato tegmine poples,
latus et angustam suspendit balteus alvum.
excusisse citas vastum per inane bipennes
et plagae praescisse locum clipeosque rotare
ludus et intortas praecedere saltibus hastas
inque hostem venisse prius; puerilibus annis
est belli maturus amor.
(Sidonius Apollinaris, Panegyricus Maiorani 238-250)
…for this youth* likewise subdues monsters, on the crown of whose red pates lies the hair that has been drawn towards the front, while the neck, exposed by the loss of its covering, shows bright. Their eyes are faint and pale, with a glimmer of greyish blue. Their faces are shaven all round, and instead of beards they have thin moustaches which they run through with a comb. Close-fitting garments confine the tall limbs of the men; they are drawn up high so as to expose the knees, and a broad belt supports their narrow middle. It is their sport to send axes hurtling through the vast void and know beforehand where the blow will fall, to whirl their shields, to outstrip with leaps and bounds the spears they have hurled and reach the enemy first. Even in boyhood’s years the love of fighting is full-grown.
* Emperor Maiorianus
(tr. William Blair Anderson)
Flucticolae cum festa nurus Pagasaea per antra
rupe sub Emathia Pelion explicuit,
angustabat humum superum satis ampla supellex;
certabant gazis hinc polus hinc pelagus;
ducebatque choros viridi prope tectus amictu
caeruleae pallae concolor ipse socer;
nympha quoque in thalamos veniens de gurgite nuda
vestiti coepit membra timere viri.
tum divum quicumque aderat terrore remoto
quo quis pollebat lusit in officio.
Iuppiter emisit tepidum sine pondere fulmen
et dixit: “melius nunc Cytherea calet.”
Pollux tum caestu laudatus, Castor habenis,
Pallas tum cristis, Delia tum pharetris;
Alcides clava, Mavors tum lusit in hasta,
Arcas tum virga, nebride tum Bromius.
hic et Pipliadas induxerat optimus Orpheus
chordis, voce, manu, carminibus, calamis.
ambitiosus Hymen totas ibi contulit artes;
qui non ingenio, fors placuit genio.
Fescennina tamen non sunt admissa priusquam
intonuit solita noster Apollo lyra.
(Sidonius Apollinaris, Praefatio epithalamii dicti Ruricio et Hiberiae)
When Pelion displayed the marriage-feast of the sea-maiden in a Pagasaean cave beneath an Emathian crag, the stately pageantry of the gods taxed the ground to hold it; on this side the sky, on that the sea vied one with the other in their treasures, and the song and dance were led by the bride’s father almost hidden in his green robe and himself of the same hue as his sea-coloured mantle. The nymph also, coming naked from the waves to her marriage, was seized with fear of the bridegroom’s draped form. Then every god that was present laid aside his dreadfulness and exhibited a playful version of his special power. Jupiter hurled a thunderbolt that had heither heat nor force, and said, “At this time it is more fitting for our lady of Cythera to show warmth.” Pollux then won praise with the boxing-glove, Castor with reins, Pallas with her plumed helm, the Delian goddess with her arrows; Hercules frolicked with his club, Mars with his spear, the Arcadian god with his wand, Bromius with the fawn-skin. At this moment the Muses also had been introduced by the incomparable Orpheus with strings, voice, hand, songs, and reeds. Hymen, eager to show off, mustered there all arts, and he who did not give pleasure by his merit gave pleasure belike by his spirit. But Fescennine jests were not admitted until our Apollo had made his song ring forth on the familiar lyre. (tr. William Blair Anderson)