Drink all the wine you need to get in the spirit of chasing a lion

From Georges Dumezil’s The Plight of a Sorcerer (pg. 99), cited from a French translation of a work of Al-Tha’alibi, Histoire des Rois des Perses (149-152):

One day, standing on the terrace of one of his palaces and contemplating the green fields that spread all around him, his eyes as far as they could see beheld nothing but greenery. While he feasted his eyes on the beauty of the scene, enchanted by the visible proof of cultivation, he spotted far away in a gap in the verdure something black on white. Having given orders to send a man there immediately to bring him an explanation of this, the messenger upon his return reported that a man going from one village to another, totally drunk, had fallen in the field like a dead body, and that a raven had swooped on him and plucked out his eyes. Kay Kobad, badly shaken by this, decreed a prohibition on wine drinking and a most severe punishment against offenders. And the people abstained from drinking wine for a certain time. Now it happened one day that a lion had escaped from the menagerie, and no one was able to stop it or bring it back until a young man who was passing through grabbed it by the ears, mounted it like a donkey and made it walk about tamely, then delivered it to it’s guardians. His adventure was reported to Kay Kobad, who was greatly astounded by it and said: “The young man must either be a fool or drunk.” He had him brought to him and said: “Let me know, without lying, how you could be so brave as to approach the lion and mount it, and you will be exempt from all blame.” The young man replied: “Know, O King, that I love a cousin who is to me the most precious thing in the world. I had my uncle’s promise that he would give her to me in marriage, but he broke his word and married her to someone else, because of my humble situation in life and my poverty. When I was told of this, I was on the point of killing myself and my despair was extreme. Well, my mother, who took pity on me, said: This, my son, is a grief that you cannot conquer except with three cups of wine, which will comfort you a bit.’ ‘How can I drink wine,’ I said to her, ‘considering the king’s interdiction?’ She said to me: ‘Drink in hiding, need legitimizes what is forbidden; besides, who would inform on you?’ Well, I had a few cups after having eaten some kebab, and came out with all the strength of wine, youth, and love, and I did my deed with the lion.” The king was greatly astonished. He sent for the young man’s uncle and ordered him to annul the marriage of his son-in-law and his daughter, and to marry her to his nephew. The uncle complied and Kay Kobad made him a present. The king took on the young man as his retainer and helped him overcome his destitution. Then he addressed the people with the following proclamation: “Drink all the wine you need to get in the spirit of chasing a lion, but be careful not to drink yourselves into a state where the ravens could pluck out your eyes!” The people then went back to their habit of drinking wine, but avoided complete drunkenness.

Such is the confidence of beauty.

From Ovid’s Metamorphoses 2.725 – Mercury flying over Attica falls for Herse, daughter of Cecrops.

The son of Jove was astounded at her beauty, and hanging in mid-air he caught the flames of love; as when a leaden bullet is thrown by a Balearic sling, it flies along, is heated by its motion, and finds heat in the clouds which it had not before. Mercury now turns his course, leaves the air and flies to earth, nor seeks to disguise himself; such is the confidence of beauty. Yet though that trust be lawful, he assists it none the less with pains; he smooths his hair, arranges his robe so that it may hang neatly and so that all the golden border will show. He takes care to have in his right hand his smooth wand with which he brings on sleep or drives it away, and to have his winged sandals glittering on his trim feet. In a retired part of the house were three chambers, richly adorned with ivory and tortoise-shell. The right-hand room of these Pandrosos occupied, Aglauros the left, and Herse the room between. Aglauros first saw the approaching god and made so bold as to ask his name and the cause of his visit. He, grandson of Atlas and Pleione, replied: “I am he who carry my father’s messages through the air. My father is Jove himself. Nor will I conceal why I am here. Only do you consent to be true to your sister, and to be called the aunt of my offspring. I have come here for Herse’s sake. I pray you favour a lover’s suit.” Aglauros looked at him with the same covetous eyes with which she had lately peeped at the secret of the golden-haired Minerva, and demanded a mighty weight of gold as the price of her service; meantime, she compelled him to leave the palace.

obstipuit forma Iove natus et aethere pendens
non secus exarsit, quam cum Balearica plumbum
funda iacit: volat illud et incandescit eundo
et, quos non habuit, sub nubibus invenit ignes.
vertit iter caeloque petit terrena relicto
nec se dissimulat: tanta est fiducia formae.
quae quamquam iusta est, cura tamen adiuvat illam
permulcetque comas chlamydemque, ut pendeat apte,
collocat, ut limbus totumque adpareat aurum,
ut teres in dextra, qua somnos ducit et arcet,
virga sit, ut tersis niteant talaria plantis.
Pars secreta domus ebore et testudine cultos
tres habuit thalamos, quorum tu, Pandrose, dextrum,
Aglauros laevum, medium possederat Herse.
quae tenuit laevum, venientem prima notavit
Mercurium nomenque dei scitarier ausa est
et causam adventus; cui sic respondit Atlantis
Pleïonesque nepos “ego sum, qui iussa per auras
verba patris porto; pater est mihi Iuppiter ipse.
nec fingam causas, tu tantum fida sorori
esse velis prolisque meae matertera dici:
Herse causa viae; faveas oramus amanti.”
adspicit hunc oculis isdem, quibus abdita nuper
viderat Aglauros flavae secreta Minervae,
proque ministerio magni sibi ponderis aurum
postulat: interea tectis excedere cogit.

Jokes are of course less funny when you have to explain them but I feel the charm here is worth it.

Premise: Mercury does not “seek to disguise himself; such is the confidence of beauty

Refutations of this principle:

1) He nevertheless smooths his hair, positions his robe (I can’t help but think of Porthos with his baldric), gathers his wand, and shines his sandals

2) His introduction of himself amounts to ‘my dad’s a big deal’

3) His suit is met with a demand for gold.

4) He’s forced to leave until he pays.

The dark Fates, gnashing their white teeth, terrible-faced, grim, bloodred, dreadful … all eager to drink black blood

From Hesiod’s Aspis / The Shield of Herakles (249-270). Terrifying – and seems a rare glimpse in early Greek poetry of what might be folk beliefs/conceptions not polished into presentability.


…. the dark Fates, gnashing their white teeth, terrible-faced, grim, bloodred, dreadful, were engaged in conflict around those who were falling. They were all eager to drink black blood. Whomever they caught first, lying there or falling freshly wounded, she clenched around him her great claws, and his soul went down to Hades to chilling Tartarus. When they had satisfied their spirits with human blood, they would hurl him backward, and going forward they would rush once again into the battle din and melee. Clotho and Lachesis stood over them; Atropos, somewhat smaller, was there, not an especially big goddess, but nonetheless she was superior to these others and the oldest one. All of them were waging bitter battle around one man; they glared terribly with their eyes at one another in their fury, and upon it they were equal to one another in their claws and fierce hands. Beside them stood Death-Mist, gloomy and dread, pallid, parched, cowering in hunger, thick-kneed; long claws were under her hands. From her nostrils flowed mucus, from her cheeks blood was dripping down onto the ground. She stood there, grinning dreadfully, and much dust, wet with tears, lay upon her shoulders.

Κῆρες κυάνεαι, λευκοὺς ἀραβεῦσαι ὀδόντας,
δεινωποὶ βλοσυροί τε δαφοινοί τ᾽ ἄπλητοί τε
δῆριν ἔχον περὶ πιπτόντων· πᾶσαι δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἵεντο
αἷμα μέλαν πιέειν· ὃν δὲ πρῶτον μεμάποιεν
κείμενον ἢ πίπτοντα νεούτατον, ἀμφὶ μὲν αὐτῷ
βάλλ’ ὄνυχας μεγάλους, ψυχὴ δ’ ᾌδόσδε κατῇεν
Τάρταρον ἐς κρυόενθ᾽· αἳ δὲ φρένας εὖτ᾽ ἀρέσαντο
αἵματος ἀνδρομέου, τὸν μὲν ῥίπτασκον ὀπίσσω,
ἂψ δ᾽ ὅμαδον καὶ μῶλον ἐθύνεον αὖτις ἰοῦσαι.
Κλωθὼ καὶ Λάχεσίς σφιν ἐφέστασαν· ἣ μὲν ὑφήσσων
Ἄτροπος οὔ τι πέλεν μεγάλη θεός, ἀλλ᾽ ἄρα ἥ γε
τῶν γε μὲν ἀλλάων προφερής τ᾽ ἦν πρεσβυτάτη τε.
πᾶσαι δ᾽ ἀμφ᾽ ἑνὶ φωτὶ μάχην δριμεῖαν ἔθεντο·
δεινὰ δ᾽ ἐς ἀλλήλας δράκον ὄμμασι θυμήνασαι,
ἐν δ᾽ ὄνυχας χεῖράς τε θρασείας ἰσώσαντο.
πὰρ δ᾽ Ἀχλὺς εἱστήκει ἐπισμυγερή τε καὶ αἰνή,
χλωρὴ ἀυσταλέη λιμῷ καταπεπτηυῖα,
γουνοπαχής, μακροὶ δ᾽ ὄνυχες χείρεσσιν ὑπῆσαν·
τῆς ἐκ μὲν ῥινῶν μύξαι ῥέον, ἐκ δὲ παρειῶν
αἷμ᾽ ἀπελείβετ᾽ ἔραζ᾽· ἣ δ᾽ ἄπλητον σεσαρυῖα
εἱστήκει, πολλὴ δὲ κόνις κατενήνοθεν ὤμους,
δάκρυσι μυδαλέη.

Rules of grammar will not save you

Exciting because I get to include something from Sanskrit studies since I don’t have to type it myself. Here is the opening verse of Sankara’s (disputed attribution) Bhaja Govindam. The story goes that Sankara during his pilgrimage to Kashi came across a very old man repeating grammar rules to himself. In some versions the man is a scholar, in others someone simply trying to learn. Either way, Sankara observes that the type of knowledge he seeks/meditates on is not the sort that provides liberation.

Worship Govinda, worship Govinda,
Worship Govinda, oh deluded mind!
At the time of your death,
Rules of grammar will not save you.

भज गोविन्दं भज गोविन्दं
गोविन्दं भज मूढमते ।
सम्प्राप्ते सन्निहिते काले
नहि नहि रक्षति डुकृङ्करणे 

But I can think of a mild counterpoint to this position from another culture – in Circero’s De Senectute (On Old Age, 8.26) where Cato describes his own late life efforts with Greek.

But you see how old age, so far from being feeble and inactive, is even busy and is always doing and effecting something—that is to say, something of the same nature in each case as were the pursuits of earlier years. And what of those who even go on adding to their store of knowledge? Such was the case with Solon, whom we see boasting in his verses that he grows old learning something every day. And I have done the same, for in my old age I have learned Greek, which I seized upon as eagerly as if I had been desirous of satisfying a long-continued thirst, with the result that I have acquired first-hand the information which you see me using in this discussion by way of illustration.

Sed videtis, ut senectus non modo languida atque iners non sit, verum etiam sit operosa et semper agens aliquid et moliens, tale scilicet, quale cuiusque studium in superiore vita fuit. Quid, qui etiam addiscunt aliquid, ut et Solonem versibus gloriantem videmus, qui se cotidie aliquid addiscentem dicit senem fieri. Et ego feci, qui litteras Graecas senex didici, quas quidem sic avide arripui quasi diuturnam sitim explere cupiens, ut ea ipsa mihi nota essent, quibus me nunc exemplis uti videtis.

Without the Greek he wouldn’t have acquired the knowledge to make the argument – and he couldn’t have gotten the Greek without the grammar (the Solon I’ve quoted elsewhere). The point being, grammar isn’t the optimal choice but I can’t read the Upanishads without knowing my conjugations and sandhi so it is a necessary one.

τρέε δ’ Ἀίδης ἐνέροισι καταφθιμένοισιν ἀνάσσων

Related to part of a scene from Ovid a few days ago (And the light, penetrating to the lower world, strikes terror into the infernal king and his consort) – I found in Hesiod the other day a connected image. During the fight between Zeus and Typhoeus (starting at 820 of the Theogony) – the whole of which feels a part model for the Phaethon tale – we get this sequence (844-850):

The violet-dark sea was enveloped by a conflagration from both of them—of thunder and lightning, and fire from that monster of tornadoes and winds, and the blazing thunderbolt. And all the earth seethed, and the sky and sea; and long waves raged around the shores, around and about, under the rush of the immortals, and an inextinguishable shuddering arose. And Hades, who rules over the dead below, was afraid

καῦμα δ’ ὑπ’ ἀμφοτέρων κάτεχεν ἰοειδέα πόντον
βροντῆς τε στεροπῆς τε πυρός τ’ ἀπὸ τοῖο πελώρου
πρηστήρων ἀνέμων τε κεραυνοῦ τε φλεγέθοντος·
ἔζεε δὲ χθὼν πᾶσα καὶ οὐρανὸς ἠδὲ θάλασσα·
θυῖε δ’ ἄρ’ ἀμφ’ ἀκτὰς περί τ’ ἀμφί τε κύματα μακρὰ
ῥιπῇ ὕπ’ ἀθανάτων, ἔνοσις δ’ ἄσβεστος ὀρώρει·
τρέε δ’ Ἀίδης ἐνέροισι καταφθιμένοισιν ἀνάσσων

That, combined with something like 758-760, can lead to Ovid’s scene:

That [Tartarus] is where the children of dark Night have their houses, Sleep and Death, terrible gods; never does the bright Sun look upon them with his rays when he goes

ἔνθα δὲ Νυκτὸς παῖδες ἐρεμνῆς οἰκί’ ἔχουσιν,
Ὕπνος καὶ Θάνατος, δεινοὶ θεοί· οὐδέ ποτ’ αὐτοὺς
Ἠέλιος φαέθων ἐπιδέρκεται ἀκτίνεσσιν

But now I’m curious whether there are any other instances in Greek or Latin literature of Hades growing frightened.

Ex Libris #5 – Dictionnaires Étymologiques

One of the lessons I’ve absorbed from the past year is that it’s best to have reference materials in your own home when possible. My Ex Libris #3 – Enciclopedia Dantesca – was the first application of this observation. Now I have two others – Pierre Chantraine’s Dictionnaire Étymologique de la Langue Grecque: Histoire des Mots (in the 2009 reprint) and Alfred Ernout and Antoine Meillet’s Dictionnaire Étymologique de la Langue Latine: Histoire des Mots (in the 2001 reprint). Both are available free on archive.org (Chantraine and Ernout/Meillet) but I find the the friction of use too much to overcome.

Next up is Frisk’s Griechisches Etymologisches Woerterbuch but for now I can continue to use the archive.org version

And the light, penetrating to the lower world, strikes terror into the infernal king and his consort

Ovid shares with the others writers I most love a quality I can only think of as the literary equivalent of Lila. He cannot deny himself the joy of creative play – however it might break the seemingly required tone of a passage – because that joy is his necessary essence. At least until the exile days. Here are a few such bits from his story of Phaethon in Book 2 of The Metamorphoses, a story that in his hands combines global and historic catastrophe with comic montage. The whole tale is too long to give here (though easily found online) so here’s a small primer of his sober narration, as Phaethon’s failed piloting of the sun’s chariot begins its damage:


Great cities perish with their walls, and the vast conflagration reduces whole nations to ashes. The woods are ablaze with the mountains; Athos is ablaze, Cilician Taurus, and Tmolus, and Oete, and Ida, dry at last, but hitherto covered with springs, and Helicon, haunt of the Muses

 magnae pereunt cum moenibus urbes,
cumque suis totas populis incendia gentis
in cinerem vertunt; silvae cum montibus ardent;
ardet Athos Taurusque Cilix et Tmolus et Oete
et tum sicca, prius creberrima fontibus, Ide
virgineusque Helicon

And now some of the play:

176-177 – A constellation flees in terror from the out of control chariot

They say that you also, Boötes, fled in terror, slow though you were, and held back by your clumsy ox-cart.

te quoque turbatum memorant fugisse, Boote,quamvis tardus eras et te tua plaustra tenebant.


208-209 – the moon taken by surprise

The Moon in amazement sees her brother’s horses running below her own

inferiusque suis fraternos currere Luna
admiratur equos


252-253 – those poor swans

and the swans, which had been wont to throng the Maeonian streams in tuneful company, are scorched in mid Caÿster.

quae Maeonias celebrabant carmine ripas
flumineae volucres, medio caluere Caystro;


254-255 – the Nile’s hidden source explained

The Nile fled in terror to the ends of the earth, and hid its head, and it is hidden yet

Nilus in extremum fugit perterritus orbem
occuluitque caput, quod adhuc latet


260-261 – my favorite, the terror of sunlight in Hades

Great cracks yawn everywhere, and the light, penetrating to the lower world, strikes terror into the infernal king and his consort

dissilit omne solum, penetratque in Tartara rimis
lumen et infernum terret cum coniuge regem;


267-268 – those poor seals

 The dead bodies of sea-calves float, with upturned belly, on the water’s top

corpora phocarum summo resupina profundo
exanimata natant


And the crown, Earth’s speech (272-300). Earth, it should be noted can scarcely speak at 282 (vix equidem fauces haec ipsa in verba resolvo) but still manages nearly another 20 lines of top quality Roman rhetorical bombast.


Not so all-fostering Earth, who, encircled as she was by sea, amid the waters of the deep, amid her fast-contracting streams which had crowded into her dark bowels and hidden there, though parched by heat, heaved up her smothered face as far as the neck. Raising her shielding hand to her brow and causing all things to shake with her mighty trembling, she sank back a little lower than her wonted place, and then in broken tones she spoke: “If this is thy will, and I have deserved all this, why, O king of all the gods, are thy lightnings idle? If I must die by fire, oh, let me perish by thy fire and lighten my suffering by thought of him who sent it. I scarce can open my lips to speak these words”—the hot smoke was choking her—“See my singed hair and all ashes in my eyes, all ashes over my face. Is this the return, this the reward thou payest of my fertility and dutifulness? that I bear the wounds of the crooked plow and mattock, tormented year in, year out? that I provide kindly pasturage for the flocks, grain for mankind, incense for the altars of the gods? But, grant that I have deserved destruction, what has the sea, what has thy brother done? Why are the waters which fell to him by the third lot so shrunken, and so much further from thy sky? But if no consideration for thy brother nor yet for me has weight with thee, at least have pity on thy own heavens. Look around: the heavens are smoking from pole to pole. If the fire shall weaken these, the homes of the gods will fall in ruins. See, Atlas himself is troubled and can scarce bear up the white-hot vault upon his shoulders. If the sea perish and the land and the realms of the sky, then are we hurled back to primeval chaos. Save from the flames whatever yet remains and take thought for the safety of the universe.”

Alma tamen Tellus, ut erat circumdata ponto,
inter aquas pelagi contractosque undique fontes,
qui se condiderant in opacae viscera matris,
sustulit oppressos collo tenus arida vultus
opposuitque manum fronti magnoque tremore
omnia concutiens paulum subsedit et infra,
quam solet esse, fuit fractaque ita voce locuta est:
“si placet hoc meruique, quid o tua fulmina cessant,
summe deum? liceat periturae viribus ignis
igne perire tuo clademque auctore levare!
vix equidem fauces haec ipsa in verba resolvo”;
(presserat ora vapor) “tostos en adspice crines
inque oculis tantum, tantum super ora favillae!
hosne mihi fructus, hunc fertilitatis honorem
officiique refers, quod adunci vulnera aratri
rastrorumque fero totoque exerceor anno,
quod pecori frondes alimentaque mitia, fruges
humano generi, vobis quoque tura ministro?
sed tamen exitium fac me meruisse: quid undae,
quid meruit frater? cur illi tradita sorte
aequora decrescunt et ab aethere longius absunt?
quodsi nec fratris nec te mea gratia tangit,
at caeli miserere tui! circumspice utrumque:
fumat uterque polus! quos si vitiaverit ignis,
atria vestra ruent! Atlas en ipse laborat
vixque suis umeris candentem sustinet axem!
si freta, si terrae pereunt, si regia caeli,
in chaos antiquum confundimur! eripe flammis,
si quid adhuc superest, et rerum consule summae!”

Sir Wolf, here, won’t refuse to give his hide to cure you, as I live

A follow-up of sorts to The wolf, the fox, and the ailing lion – Jean de La Fontaine’s reworking (in an old-fashioned but serviceable translation from Gutenberg):

The Lion, the Wolf, and the Fox

A lion, old, and impotent with gout,
Would have some cure for age found out.
Impossibilities, on all occasions,
With kings, are rank abominations.
This king, from every species,–
For each abounds in every sort,–
Call’d to his aid the leeches.
They came in throngs to court,
From doctors of the highest fee
To nostrum-quacks without degree,–
Advised, prescribed, talk’d learnedly;
But with the rest
Came not Sir Cunning Fox, M.D.
Sir Wolf the royal couch attended,
And his suspicions there express’d.
Forthwith his majesty, offended,
Resolved Sir Cunning Fox should come,
And sent to smoke him from his home.
He came, was duly usher’d in,
And, knowing where Sir Wolf had been,
Said, ‘Sire, your royal ear
Has been abused, I fear,
By rumours false and insincere;
To wit, that I’ve been self-exempt
From coming here, through sheer contempt.
But, sire, I’ve been on pilgrimage,
By vow expressly made,
Your royal health to aid,
And, on my way, met doctors sage,
In skill the wonder of the age,
Whom carefully I did consult
About that great debility
Term’d in the books senility,
Of which you fear, with reason, the result.
You lack, they say, the vital heat,
By age extreme become effete.
Drawn from a living wolf, the hide
Should warm and smoking be applied.
The secret’s good, beyond a doubt,
For nature’s weak, and wearing out.
Sir Wolf, here, won’t refuse to give
His hide to cure you, as I live.’
The king was pleased with this advice.
Flay’d, jointed, served up in a trice,
Sir Wolf first wrapp’d the monarch up,
Then furnish’d him whereon to sup.
Beware, ye courtiers, lest ye gain,
By slander’s arts, less power than pain;
For in the world where ye are living,
A pardon no one thinks of giving.

Le Lion, le Loup, et le Renard

Un Lion décrépit, goutteux, n’en pouvant plus,
Voulait que l’on trouvât remède à la vieillesse :
Alléguer l’impossible aux Rois, c’est un abus.
Celui-ci parmi chaque espèce
Manda des Médecins ; il en est de tous arts :
Médecins au Lion viennent de toutes parts ;
De tous côtés lui vient des donneurs de recettes.
Dans les visites qui sont faites,
Le Renard se dispense, et se tient clos et coi.
Le Loup en fait sa cour, daube au coucher du Roi
Son camarade absent ; le Prince tout à l’heure
Veut qu’on aille enfumer Renard dans sa demeure,
Qu’on le fasse venir. Il vient, est présenté ;
Et, sachant que le Loup lui faisait cette affaire :
Je crains, Sire, dit-il, qu’un rapport peu sincère,
Ne m’ait à mépris imputé
D’avoir différé cet hommage ;
Mais j’étais en pèlerinage ;
Et m’acquittais d’un voeu fait pour votre santé.
Même j’ai vu dans mon voyage
Gens experts et savants ; leur ai dit la langueur
Dont votre Majesté craint à bon droit la suite.
Vous ne manquez que de chaleur :
Le long âge en vous l’a détruite :
D’un Loup écorché vif appliquez-vous la peau
Toute chaude et toute fumante ;
Le secret sans doute en est beau
Pour la nature défaillante.
Messire Loup vous servira,
S’il vous plaît, de robe de chambre.
Le Roi goûte cet avis-là :
On écorche, on taille, on démembre
Messire Loup. Le Monarque en soupa,
Et de sa peau s’enveloppa ;
Messieurs les courtisans, cessez de vous détruire :
Faites si vous pouvez votre cour sans vous nuire.
Le mal se rend chez vous au quadruple du bien.
Les daubeurs ont leur tour d’une ou d’autre manière :
Vous êtes dans une carrière
Où l’on ne se pardonne rien.

εἰ γάρ κεν καὶ σμικρὸν ἐπὶ σμικρῷ καταθεῖο

From Hesiod’s Works and Days (361-2) but lifted from Plutarch, who quotes it in both How A Man May Become Aware of his Progress in Virtue and The Education of Children (twice, I think, though only once via quote). I used to be much interested in the reception of Hesiod in the Second Sophistic – more the use of him as historic figure than of his poetry – but never so much with Plutarch, partly because his inclusion in the movement can be hazy.

For if you put down even a little upon a little and do this often, then this too will quickly become a lot

εἰ γάρ κεν καὶ σμικρὸν ἐπὶ σμικρῷ καταθεῖο,
καὶ θαμὰ τοῦτ᾽ ἔρδοις, τάχα κεν μέγα καὶ τὸ γένοιτο.

L’acqua ch’io prendo già mai non si corse

The opening of Paradiso Canto 2, in the Longfellow translation.

O Ye, who in some pretty little boat,
Eager to listen, have been following
Behind my ship, that singing sails along,

Turn back to look again upon your shores;
Do not put out to sea, lest peradventure,
In losing me, you might yourselves be lost.

The sea I sail has never yet been passed;
Minerva breathes, and pilots me Apollo,
And Muses nine point out to me the Bears.

Ye other few who have the neck uplifted
Betimes to th’ bread of Angels upon which
One liveth here and grows not sated by it,

Well may you launch upon the deep salt-sea
Your vessel, keeping still my wake before you
Upon the water that grows smooth again.

Those glorious ones who unto Colchos passed
Were not so wonder-struck as you shall be,
When Jason they beheld a ploughman made!

O voi che siete in piccioletta barca,
desiderosi d’ascoltar, seguiti
dietro al mio legno che cantando varca,

tornate a riveder li vostri liti:
non vi mettete in pelago, ché forse,
perdendo me, rimarreste smarriti.

L’acqua ch’io prendo già mai non si corse;
Minerva spira, e conducemi Appollo,
e nove Muse mi dimostran l’Orse.

Voialtri pochi che drizzaste il collo
per tempo al pan de li angeli, del quale
vivesi qui ma non sen vien satollo,

metter potete ben per l’alto sale
vostro navigio, servando mio solco
dinanzi a l’acqua che ritorna equale.

Que’ glorïosi che passaro al Colco
non s’ammiraron come voi farete,
quando Iasón vider fatto bifolco.