Distribution Automatique

Friday, March 25

III.5 *Pacis Amor deus est, pacem veneramur amantes*

"The god of peace is Love, we lovers venerate peace:
Hard battles with my mistress suffice for me.
My heart is not consumed for hateful gold,
My thirst doesn't drink from cups of precious stone,
Fat Campania's not ploughed for me by a thousand yoke.
I get no bronzes from your ruin, hapless Corinth.

O primal earth Prometheus unluckily shaped-
Too little prepared, he began to work on our hearts:
Skilfully ordering bodies, he did not look to the mind.
From the first there should have been a straight path
For the soul: now we are tempest-tossed far out to sea:
We seek out enemies, and join fresh wars to wars.
You shall carry no riches to Acheron's waters:
Naked, fool, you'll be borne on hell's ferry.
Victor and victim shades are mingles as equals:
Consul Marius, you sit by the captive Jugurtha.
Lydian Croesus does not stand off from Dulichian Irus:
The death is best which comes at fate's appointed hour.
I am glad that in early youth I worshipped Helicon,
And linked my hands in the Muses' choral dance:
I am glad that plenteous Bacchus enchains my mind,
And always to wreathe my head in vernal roses.
When heavy age has interrupted Venus
And age's white has brindled my black hair,
Then may it please me to study's nature's ways:
Which god controls by art our home this world;
How comes the rising sun, how sinks, and how each month,
Horns brought together, the moon returns to the full;
Whence winds overmatch the deep, what Eurus snatches
At with his squall, whence the clouds' perennial water;
If a day shall come which undermines world-fortresses;
Why the shining bow imbibes the water of rain;
Why Perrhaebian Pindus' summits shook
And the sun has mourned, horses draped in black;
Why Bootes is late to turn his oxen and cart,
Or the Pleiads group their fiery dance so close;
Or why the deep main does not exceed its bounds;
Or why the whole year passes in four sections;
If underground are tortured Giants; gods' laws;
If Tisiphone's head is maddened with black snakes;
Alcmaeon's Furies, Phineus' hunger,
The wheel, the rock, the thirst amid the waters;
If Cerberus guards with triple jaws the pit
Of hell; nine acres too strait for Tityus:
Or fictions have come down to hapless folk,
And no alarms can be beyond the pyre.

Such going is what is left to me. You
Who welcome war, fetch Crassus' standards home."

from *Propertius/The Poems*
translated by W.G. Shepherd
Penguin Books, 1985