Orpheus and Eurydice

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Orpheus and Eurydice
by Ovid

Introduction[edit]

Original Latin Literal English Translation Line
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Inde per immensum, croceo velatus amictu,
aethera digreditur Ciconumque Hymenaeus ad oras
tendit, et Orphea nequiquam voce vocatur.
Adfuit ille quidem, sed nec sollemnia verba
nec laetos vultus nec felix attulit omen;  5
fax quoque, quam tenuit, lacrimoso stridula fumo
usque fuit nullosque invenit motibus ignes.
Exitus auspicio agravior. Nam nupta per herbas
dum nova, Naiadum turba comitata, vagatur,
occidit in talum serpentis dente recepto.  10
 Quam satis ad superas postquam Rhodopeius auras
deflevis vates, ne non temptaret et umbras,
ad Styga Taenaria est ausus descendere porta,
perque leves populos simulacraque functa sepulcro
Persephonen adiit inamoenaque regna tenentem  15
umbrarum dominum, pulsisque ad carmina nervis
sic ait: "O positi sub terra numina mundi,
in quem reccidimus, quidquid mortale creamur,
si licet et, falsti positis ambagibus oris,
vera loqui sinitis, non huc, ut opaca viderem  20
Tartara, descendi, nec uti villosa colubris
terna Medusaei vincirem guttura monstri.
Causa viae est coniunx in quam calcata venenum
vipera diffudit crescentesque abstulit annos.
Posse pati volui, nec me temptasse negabo;  25
vicit Amor. Supera deus hic bene notus in ora est;
an sit et hic, dubito. Sed et hic tamen auguror esse,
famaque si veteris non est mentita rapinae,
vos quoque iunxit Amor. Per ego haec loca plena timoris,
per Chaos hoc ingens vastique silentia regni,  30
Eurydices, oro, properata retexite fata.
Omnia debentur vobis paulumque morati
serius aut citius sedem properamus ad unam.
Tendimus huc omnes, haec est domus ultima, vosque
humani generis longissima regna tenetis.  35
Haec quoque, cum iustos matura peregerit annos,
iuris erit vestri; pro munere posciums usum.
Quod si fata negant veniam pro coniuge, certum est
nolle redire mihi; leto gaudete duorum."
 Talia dicentem nervosque ad verba moventem  40
exsangues flebant animae; nec Tantalus undam
captavit refugam, stupuitque Ixionis orbis,
nec carpsere iecur volucres, urnisque vacarunt
Belides, inque tuo sedisti, Sisyphe, saxo.


     Then through the vast heaven, having been dressed in a saffron cloak,
Hymen proceeds to the shores of the Cicones
and is called by the voice of Orpheus in vain.
He (Hymen) indeed was present, but he brought neither ceremonial words,
nor happy faces, nor a lucky omen;
also his torch, which he held sputtered continuously with tear-provoking fumes
and even with shaking it found no fires.
The outcome was more grave than the omen. For while [his] new wife
was wandering through the grass, accompanied by a crowd of river nymphs,
she died with the fang of a serpent having been received into her ankle.
     After the bard of Mt. Rhodope, in the upper air,
mourned for her enough lest he might not fail to try the Shades,
he dared to descend to the River Styx by the gate of Taenarus,
and through the weightless peoples and the ghosts having suffered burial
he went to Persephone and the master of the shades holding
his unlovely kingdom and with the strings beating to his song
thus he spoke: “O divine wills of the underworld
into which we fall back, whichever of us are created mortal,
if it is allowed and with the wanderings of false speech placed aside
you permit truth to be said, I did not descend here so that I might see
shady Tartarus nor to bind the three throats
of the monster of Medusa shaggy with monsters;
the cause of my way is my wife, into whom a stepped on
serpent poured venom in, taking away her budding years.
I wish to be able to endure nor shall I try to deny that I tried;
Love conquers. This god is well known in the upper regions (earth);
whether he may be here also, I doubt. But nevertheless, I sense that he also is here,
and if the story of the old kidnapping is not a lie,
love has joined you also. I beg by these places full of despair
by this huge Chaos and the silence of this desolate kingdom,
unweave the premature death of Eurydice!
All things are owed to you and having delayed
a little bit or later or swiftly, we hasten to one seat (death).
We all strive here, this is the ultimate house and you
hold the most enduring kingdom over the human race.
She also, when advanced in age completed her deserved years
will be under your authority- we ask for this right through a tribute.
But if the Fates deny this favor for my wife, it is certain
for me to not want to return; enjoy the death of two.”
     The lifeless souls were crying over him saying such things and moving his
strings to his words; nor did Tantalus
capture the fleeing water, and the wheel of Ixion ceased to turn,
nor did the birds tear at his liver, and the descendants of Belas were free
from their urns, and O Sisyphus you sat on your rock.
Then first, it is said that the cheeks of the Furies, conquered
by his song, were wet with tears; nor was the royal spouse
able to deny him begging, nor he who rules below
and they called Eurydice. She was among the recent shadows,
and she walked with a step, slow from her wound.
The Rhodopeian hero welcomed her and at the same time the restriction,
lest he turns behind with his eyes until he will exit the valley
of the underworld, or his gift would be nullified.
     The inclined footpath is pressed upon through the soundless silence,
tall, dark and dense with mist.
They were not far off from the border of the top of the land;
here, fearing that she may lose strength and eager of seeing her,
her lover turned his eyes. And immediately she fell back,
holding her arms and struggling both to be grasped and to grasp,
and the unlucky one grasped nothing except the retreating air;
and now dying again, she did not complain about her husband
at all (for what could she complain of except that she was loved?)
She said her final goodbye, which now he scarcely received with his ears
and again she fell back to the same place.
      Stunned by the double loss of his wife, Orpheus was like that
coward who saw Cerberus, the three-headed dog, chained by the central neck,
and whose fear vanished with his nature, as stone transformed his body.
Or like Olenos, and you, his Lethaea, too proud of your beauty:
he wished to be charged with your crime, and seem guilty himself:
once wedded hearts, you are now rocks set on moist Mount Ida.
      The toll-keeper restrained him begging and wishing to cross again
in vain. Nevertheless, he, filthy, sat on the shores
for 7 days without the gift of Ceres (grain);
anxiety and grief of his soul and tears were food.
Having complained that the gods of the underworld were cruel,
he retreated onto high Rhodope and to Haemus beaten by the winds.
     The ghost (of Orpheus) approached the ground, and, in a place which he saw before, he recognized all and asking through the fields of goodness (Fields of Elysium), he found Eurydice and greedily they hugged by the arms/shoulders. Only thus they both walk joined in step: now Orpheus follows exceeding Eurydice, now he leads ahead and he already looks back at his Eurydice safely.


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