Friday, March 11, 2011

Ovid, Ages of Mankind (Metamorphoses)

Publius Ovidius Naso
8 CE (2,015 years ago)
Trans. RMBullard

Aurea prima sata est aetas, quae vindice nullo/sponte sua, sine lege fidem rectumque colebat.
(The first age sired was golden, with no avenger, by its own accord, it reared trust and justice with the law;)

poena metusque aberant nec verba minantia fixo/aere legebantur nec supplex turba timebat/iudicis ora sui, sed erant sine vindice tuti.
(Punishment and fear were absent, and threatening words on fixed bronze were not read, nor did the public, supplicant, fear the face of its judge, but they were safe without an avenger.)

nondum caesa suis, peregrinum ut viseret orbem/montibus in liquidas pinus descenderat undas/nullaque mortales praeter sua litora norant.
(Not yet did pine, felled from the mountains, so that it could see the world outside, fall into the clear waters, nor did any shores, except their own, feed mortal men;)

nondum praecipites cingebant oppida fossae/non tuba directi, non aeris cornua flexi/non galaeae, non ensis erat:
(Not yet did step ditches enclose fortresses, nor were the war horns to be raised, nor bows of bronze to be bent, nor were there helmets, nor was their the sword;)

sine militis usu/mollia securae peragebant otia gentes.
(Without the use of the soldier, people led their lives safely in gentle leisure;)

ipsa quoque immunis rastroque intacta nec ullis/saucia vomeribus per se dabat omnia tellus/contentique cibis nullo cogente creatis/arbuteos fetus montanaque fraga legebant/cornaque et in duris haerentia mora rubetis/et, quae deciderant patula Iovis arbore, glandes.
(Also the earth itself, unharmed and untouched by neither the beak nor any ploughs, throughout itself, gave forth fruit, and content men, not forcing anything, picked through fertile orchards with its created fruits and mountain berries and blueberries and mulberries clinging on heavy branches, and acorns, which dropped from the spreading tree of Jove;)

Ver erat aeternum, placidique tepentibus auris/mulcebant Zephyri natos sine semine flores;
(The spring was eternal, the peaceful Zephyr winds strokes flowers, born without seed, with its breezes;)

Mox etiam fruges tellus inarata ferebat/nec renovatus ager gravidis canebat aristis:
(So soon did the untilled earth bear fruit, and the renewed field sang with heavy cornhusks:)

flumina iam lactis, iam flumina nectaris ibant/flavaque de viridi stillabant ilice mella.
(Then the rivers flowed with milk, then flowed with nectar, and they strained golden honey from green ivy.)

Postquam Saturno tenebrosa in Tartara misso/sub Iove mundus erat, subiit argentea proles/auro deterior, fulvo pretiosior aere.
(Afterwards, when Saturn was sent into shadowy Tartarus, the world was under the reign of Jove, a silver race emerged, worse than the golden one, more valuable than the tawny bronze;)

Iuppiter antiqui contraxit tempora veris/perque hiemes aestusque et inaequalis autumnos/et breve ver spatiis exegit quattuor annum.
(Jupiter constricted the durations of the ancient spring, and he drew out the year in four spaces, for winters and summers and uneven autumns and a brief spring;)

tum primum siccis aer fervoribus ustus/canduit, et ventis glacies adstricta pependit;
(Them first did the air glow, burning with dry heats, and the crackled ice hung in the winds;)

tum primum subiere domos: domus antra fuerunt/et densi frutices et vinctae cortice virgae;
(Then first did they go into houses: there houses were caves and thick huts tied by cords of twine;)

semina tum primum longis Cerealia sulcis/obruta sunt, pressique iugo gemuere iuvenci;
(Then first were grains removed from the long stalks, and the cattle groaned, pressed by the yoke.)

Tertia post illam successit aenea proles/saevior ingeniis et ad horrida promptior arma/non scelerata tamen;
(After this, a third race, bronze, followed, fiercer in its characters and more eager for nasty arms, not yet wicked yet;)

protinus inrupit venae peioris in aevum/omne nefas, fugere pudor verumque fidesque;
(Suddently, all evil broke into the age of an even worse vein, and truly did shame and confidence flee;)

in quorum subiere locum fraudesque dolique/insidiaeque et vis et amor sceleratus habendi.
(Into their dominion, there emerged deceits and tricks and betrayals and violence and wicked lust of ownership;)

vela dabat ventis nec adhuc bene noverat illos/navita, quaeque diu steterant in montibus altis/fluctibus ignotis insultavere carinae/communeque prius ceu lumina solis et auras/cautus humum longo signavit limite mensor.
(He began to give sails to the winds, nor yet did his ship know them well, and these took foot in the mountainous waves, the keels jumped upon unknown waves, and soon a measurer, bewaring the sun’s rays and breezes, mapped the soil with a long boundary;)

nec tantum segetes alimentaque debita dives/poscebatur humus, sed itum est in viscera terrae/quaque recondiderat Stygiisque admoverat umbris/effodiuntur opes, inritamenta malorum;
(Nor did the rich soil put forth as many cornhusks and owed food sources, but there was a path into the innards of the earth, those which he had re-established and moved to the Stygian shades, and they dug out the riches, the unrighteous things of wicked men;)

iamque nocens ferrum ferroque nocentius aurum/prodierat:
(And then harmful iron and gold, even more harmful than iron, came forth;)

prodit bellum, quod pugnat utroque/sanguineaque manu crepitantia concutit arma.
(War came forth, which he fought on either side and he struck the creaking arms with his bloody hand;)

vivitur ex rapto; non hospes ab hospite tutus/non socer a genero, fratrum quoque gratia rura est.
(He survived from plundering; guest is not safe from the host, son-in-law from father-in-law, and favor among brothers was rare;)

imminet exitio vir coniugis, illa mariti/lurida terribiles miscent aconita novercae/filius ante diem patrios inquirit in annos.
(The husband looms over the destruction of his wife, terrible mothers-in-law mix dark poisons, and the son asks about his father’s ages before his time;)

victa iacet pietas, et Virgo caede madentes/ultima caelestum, terras Astraea reliquit.
(Duty lay defeated, and Astraea left the earths dripping in slaughter, the very last of heavenly beings.)

Neve foret terris securior arduus aether/adfectasse ferunt regnum caeleste Gigantas/altaque congestos struxisse ad sidera montes.
(That the burning heaven not be safer than the earth, they say that Giants attacked the celestial kingdom and built piled-up mountains to the stars;)

tum pater omnipotens misso perfregit Olympum/fulmine et excussit subiectae Pelion Ossae;
(Then the all-knowing father shattered Olympus completely with a delivered thunderbolt, and he cast out Pelion to Ossa, thrown upon;)

obruta mole sua cum corpora dira iacerent/perfusam multo natorum sanguine Terram/immaduisse ferunt calidumque animasse cruorem/et, ne nulla suae stirpis monimenta manerent/in faciem vertisse hominum: scires e sanguine natos.
(Since their gloomy bodies lay upon the burnt mass, they say that the Earth, doused completely so much blood of her sons, had soaked and gave spirit to the hot gore, and, lest no monument of her own stock should remain, she turn it into the appearance of men. But this generation was a despiser of the higher beings and most eager for savage slaughter and was violent: you would recognized the men born from her blood.)

Image:Thomas Cole, "The Course of Empire: The Arcadian or Pastoral State"