Ego ita sum quasi a cuncto grege morbida aberrans ovis. quod nisi me bonus pastor ad sua stabula umeris impositum reportarit, lababunt gressus et in ipso conamine vestigia concident assurgentis. ego sum ille prodigus filius, qui omni, quam mihi pater crediderat, portione profusa necdum me ad genitoris genua submisi necdum coepi prioris a me luxuriae blandimenta depellere. et quia paululum non tam desivi a vitiis, quam coepi velle desinere, nunc me novis diabolus retibus ligat, nunc nova impedimenta proponens ‘maria undique circumdat et undique pontum’ [cf. Vergil, Aen. 3.193], nunc in medio constitutus elemento nec regredi volo nec progredi possum. superest, ut oratu vestro sancti spiritus aura me provehat et ad portum optati litoris prosequatur.
(Jerome, Ep. 2.3-4)
I am like the sick sheep that strays from the rest of the flock. Unless the Good Shepherd takes me on His shoulders and carries me back to His fold, my steps will falter, and in the very effort of rising my feet will give way. I am that prodigal son who wasted all the portion entrusted to me by my father. But I have not yet fallen at my father’s knees. I have not yet begun to put away from me the enticements of my former riotous living. And because I have not so much given up my sins as begun to wish a little to give them up, now the devil is trying to ensnare me in new nets. He puts new stumbling blocks in my way, he encompasses me on every side with the ocean’s waters and on every side with the ocean’s deep. I find myself in the midst of the element, unwilling to retreat and unable to advance. It remains that through your prayers the breath of the Holy Spirit waft me onward and bring me to the haven of the longed-for shore. (tr. Charles Christopher Mierow)
Apollo, cum Coronidem gravidam fecisset, corvum ei custodem apposuit, ne quis ad eam occulte temerator accederet. cum hac Lycus occulte concubuit, quem fulmine Iuppiter exstinxit. ipsam Coronidem Apollo sagittis occidit, cuius mortuae exsecto utero Aesculapium produxit in lucem. unde Vergilius: ‘fulmine poenigenam Stygias detrusit ad undas’ [Aen. 7.773], id est per poenam matris natum.
(Lactantius Placidus, Comm. in Stat. Theb. 3.506)
When Apollo had made Coronis pregnant, he assigned a raven as a guardian over her lest any rash person should secretly approach her. With her by stealth lay Lycus whom Jupiter destroyed with a thunderbolt. Coronis herself Apollo slew with his arrows; from her womb, cut open when she was dead, he brought forth Asclepius into the light of day. Wherefore Vergil says: ‘with his thunderbolt he [sc. Jupiter] hurled down to the Stygian waters ‘poenigenam’, that means him who was born through the punishment of his mother. (tr. Emma & Ludwig Edelstein)
Aetheria tum forte plaga crinitus Apollo
desuper Ausonias acies urbemque videbat
nube sedens, atque his victorem adfatur Iülum:
‘macte nova virtute, puer, sic itur ad astra,
dis genite et geniture deos. iure omnia bella
gente sub Assaraci fato ventura resident,
nec te Troia capit.’ simul haec effatus ab alto
aethere se mittit, spirantes dimovet auras
Ascaniumque petit; formam tum vertitur oris
antiquum in Buten. hic Dardanio Anchisae
armiger ante fuit fidusque ad limina custos;
tum comitem Ascanio pater addidit. ibat Apollo
omnia longaevo similis vocemque coloremque
et crines albos et saeva sonoribus arma,
atque his ardentem dictis adfatur Iülum:
‘sit satis, Aenide, telis impune Numanum
oppetiisse tuis. primam hanc tibi magnus Apollo
concedit laudem et paribus non invidet armis;
cetera parce, puer, bello.’ sic orsus Apollo
mortales medio aspectus sermone reliquit
et procul in tenuem ex oculis evanuit auram.
agnovere deum proceres divinaque tela
Dardanidae pharetramque fuga sensere sonantem.
ergo avidum pugnae dictis ac numine Phoebi
Ascanium prohibent, ipsi in certamina rursus
succedunt animasque in aperta pericula mittunt.
(Vergil, Aen. 9.638-663)
At that moment Apollo, the youthful god, whose hair is never
cut, chanced to be seated on a cloud, looking down from the
expanse of heaven on the armies and cities of Italy, and he
addressed these words to the victorious Iulus: ‘You have become
a man, young Iulus, and we salute you! This is the way that
leads to the stars. You are born of the gods and will live to be
the father of gods. Justice demands that all the wars that Fate
will bring will come to an end under the offspring of Assaracus.
Troy is not large enough for you.’ At these words he plunged
down from the heights of heaven, parting the breathing winds,
and made for Ascanius, taking on the features of old Butes.
Butes had once been armour-bearer to the Dardan Anchises and
the trusted guard of his door, and Aeneas had then appointed
him as companion to his son Ascanius. This was the guise in
which Apollo came, the old man Butes to the life—voice,
colouring, white hair, weapons grimly clanking—and these were
the words he spoke to Iulus in the flush of his victory: ‘Let that
be enough, son of Aeneas. Numanus has fallen to your arms
and you are unhurt. Great Apollo has granted you this first taste
of glory and does not grudge you arrows as sure as his own.
You must ask for no more, my boy, in this war.’ So began
Apollo, but while speaking, he left the sight of men, fading
from their eyes into the insubstantial air. The Trojan leaders
recognized the god. They knew his divine arrows and the quiver
that sounded as he flew. So, although Ascanius was thirsting for
battle, they held him back, urging upon him the words of
Phoebus Apollo and the will of the god. But they themselves
went back into battle and put their lives into naked danger. (tr. David West)
Fortunate senex, ergo tua rura manebunt,
et tibi magna satis, quamvis lapis omnia nudus
limosoque palus obducat pascua iunco.
non insueta gravis temptabunt pabula fetas
nec mala vicini pecoris contagia laedent.
fortunate senex, hic inter flumina nota
et fontis sacros frigus captabis opacum;
hinc tibi, quae semper, vicino ab limite saepes
Hyblaeis apibus florem depasta salicti
saepe levi somnum suadebit inire susurro;
hinc alta sub rupe canet frondator ad auras,
nec tamen interea raucae, tua cura, palumbes
nec gemere aëria cessabit turtur ab ulmo.
(Vergil, Ecl. 1.46-57)
Fortunate old man, your fields will still be yours.
And they’re enough for you although the bare rock
and the marsh with all its reeds and mud abut your fields.
No unfamiliar fodder will tempt your pregnant ewes,
nor will any disease from a neighbor’s flock bring harm to them.
Fortunate old man, here between the rivers
you know and the sacred springs you’ll lie in the cool shade.
Here your hedge, as it always has, at your neighbor’s line
will pasture on willow buds those Hyblaean bees,
which soon will coax you to sleep with their light murmuring hum.
There beneath the high rock the vinedresser
will sing to the breeze and all the while your hoarse pigeons
and your turtle dove, high in the elm, will murmur and coo. (tr. Barbara Hughes Fowler)
Pastor Aristaeus fugiens Peneïa Tempe,
amissis, ut fama, apibus morboque fameque,
tristis ad extremi sacrum caput adstitit amnis
multa querens atque hac adfatus voce parentem:
‘Mater, Cyrene mater, quae gurgitis huius
ima tenes, quid me praeclara stirpe deorum
(si modo, quem perhibes, pater est Thymbraeus Apollo)
invisum fatis genuisti? aut quo tibi nostri
pulsus amor? quid me caelum sperare iubebas?
en etiam hunc ipsum vitae mortalis honorem,
quem mihi vix frugum et pecudum custodia sollers
omnia temptanti extuderat, te matre relinquo.
quin age et ipsa manu felices erue silvas,
fer stabulis inimicum ignem atque interfice messes,
ure sata et validam in vites molire bipennem,
tanta meae si te ceperunt taedia laudis.’
(Vergil, Georg. 4.317-332)
The shepherd Aristaeus, leaving the Tempe valley
where Peneus flows, his bees lost—so legend reports—to sickness
and hunger, stopped, beset by sorrow, at the stream’s holy
source and, loudly lamenting, called out to his mother,
“Mother, Cyrene, my mother, living beneath this gush
of water, why did you bear me from the radiant line
of gods—Apollo fathered me, if you’ve told the truth—
only to be scorned by fate? What has routed your love?
Why did you let me hope for immortality?
Look at me! Even this crowning grace of my human life
that zealous care for cattle and crops hammered out for me,
even though you are my mother, I give it all up.
Yes, come! With your own hand root out my fruit trees,
burn my livestock pens, murder my crops, torch my gardens,
chop my vines down with a battle-axe if you have been seized
by such great disdain for work that is well worth your praise. (tr. Janet Lembke)
At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu
errantes hederas passim cum baccare tellus
mixtaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho.
ipsae lacte domum referent distenta capellae
ubera nec magnos metuent armenta leones;
ipsa tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores.
occidet et serpens et fallax herba veneni
occidet; Assyrium vulgo nascetur amomum.
at simul heroum laudes et facta parentis
iam legere et quae sit poteris cognoscere virtus,
molli paulatim flavescet campus arista
incultisque rubens pendebit sentibus uva
et durae quercus sudabunt roscida mella.
pauca tamen suberunt priscae vestigia fraudis,
quae temptare Thetin ratibus, quae cingere muris
oppida, quae iubeant telluri infindere sulcos.
alter erit tum Tiphys et altera quae vehat Argo
delectos heroas; erunt etiam altera bella
atque iterum ad Troiam magnus mittetur Achilles.
(Vergil, Ecl. 4.18-36)
For you, little child, spontaneously, as first gifts,
the earth will lavish creeping ivy and foxglove,
everywhere, and Egyptian lilies with smiling acanthus.
Goats will come home by themselves with udders full
of milk, nor will the oxen fear the lion’s might.
Your very cradle will flower with buds to caress you.
The serpent will die as well as poison’s treacherous plant,
and everywhere Assyrian balsam will come to bloom.
And when you have learned to read the praises of heroes and deeds
of your own father and know what manhood is, the plain,
little by little, will grow gold with waving grain,
and grapes will redden on the untended vine of the thorn,
and the hard oaks distill honey-dew from their barks.
Still, slight traces of our old iniquity
will make us tempt the sea in ships, fortify
our towns with walls, cut furrows in our soil.
There will be another Tiphys, another Argo’s
chosen crew, and there will be other wars,
and mighty Achilles will be dispatched once more to Troy. (tr. Barbara Hughes Fowler)
Dixerat. ille patris magni parere parabat
imperio; et primum pedibus talaria nectit
aurea, quae sublimem alis sive aequora supra
seu terram rapido pariter cum flamine portant.
tum virgam capit: hac animas ille evocat Orco
pallentis, alias sub Tartara tristia mittit,
dat somnos adimitque et lumina morte resignat.
illa fretus agit ventos et turbida tranat
nubila. iamque volans apicem et latera ardua cernit
Atlantis duri caelum qui vertice fulcit,
Atlantis, cinctum adsidue cui nubibus atris
piniferum caput et vento pulsatur et imbri;
nix umeros infusa tegit, tum flumina mento
praecipitant senis, et glacie riget horrida barba.
hic primum paribus nitens Cyllenius alis
constitit; hinc toto praeceps se corpore ad undas
misit avi similis, quae circum litora, circum
piscosos scopulos humilis volat aequora iuxta.
(Vergil, Aen. 4.238-255)
So he spoke. And the other prepared to obey these parental
Orders. He first straps boots to his feet. They are ankle-high, golden,
And, having wings, take him upwards in flight over seas, over dry land,
Swift as a rising current of air. Next he picks up his special
Wand, which he uses to call up the pale, wan spirits from Orcus,
Or to dispatch others down below earth, into Tartarus’ grimness.
With it, he gives or takes sleep, makes eyes remain open on deathbeds,
And, with its help, he can navigate winds, weather turbulent cloudbanks.
Now, as he swoops, he discerns both the summit and steep flanks of rugged
Atlas, who levers aloft, on his peak, all the weight of the heavens,
Atlas, whose pine-covered head is eternally banded with storm clouds,
Battered by wind and by rain. Round his shoulders is strewn a mantle
Thickened with snowfall; and down from the chin of this elderly being
Cataracts plunge, and his beard-bristle freezes to icicled stiffness.
Here Mount Cyllene’s god, powered in on his glistening paired wings,
First touched down. From there, powered out by the weight of his body,
Seaward he dived like a tern, who’s been circling shorelines and cliff pools
Teeming with fish, skimming wave-tops. (tr. Frederick Ahl)