Claudian, Shorter Poems

LCL 136: 224-225

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Claudian

5unde rubet ventura dies longeque coruscis nox adflata rotis refugo pallescit amictu: haec fortunatus nimium Titanius ales regna colit solusque plaga defensus iniqua possidet intactas aegris animalibus oras 10saeva nec humani patitur contagia mundi. par volucer superis, stellas qui vividus aequat durando membrisque terit redeuntibus aevum, non epulis saturare famem, non fontibus ullis adsuetus prohibere sitim; sed purior illum 15solis fervor alit ventosaque pabula potat Tethyos, innocui carpens alimenta vaporis. arcanum radiant oculi iubar. igneus ora cingit honos. rutilo cognatum vertice sidus attollit cristatus apex tenebrasque serena 20luce secat. Tyrio pinguntur crura veneno. antevolant Zephyros pinnae, quas caerulus ambit flore color sparsoque super ditescit in auro. Hic neque concepto fetu nec semine surgit, sed pater est prolesque sui nulloque creante 25emeritos artus fecunda morte reformat et petit alternam totidem per funera vitam. namque ubi mille vias longinqua retorserit aestas, tot ruerint hiemes, totiens ver cursibus actum, quas tulit autumnus, dederit cultoribus umbras: 30tum multis gravior tandem subiungitur annis lustrorum numero victus: ceu lassa procellis ardua Caucasio nutat de culmine pinus seram ponderibus pronis tractura ruinam; pars cadit adsiduo flatu, pars imbre peresa 35rumpitur, abripuit partem vitiosa vetustas.

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Shorter Poems XXVII

morn while night, illumined by those far-shining wheels of fire, casts off her sable cloak and broods less darkly. This is the kingdom of the blessèd bird of the sun where it dwells in solitude defended by the inhospitable nature of the land and immune from the ills that befall other living creatures; nor does it suffer infection from the world of men. Equal to the gods is that bird whose life rivals the stars and whose renascent limbs weary the passing centuries. It needs no food to satisfy hunger nor any drink to quench thirst; the sun’s clear beam is its food, the sea’s rare spray its drink—exhalations such as these form its simple nourishment. A mysterious fire flashes from its eye, and a flaming aureole enriches its head. Its crest shines with the sun’s own light and shatters the darkness with its calm brilliance. Its legs are of Tyrian purple; swifter than those of the Zephyrs are its wings of flower-like blue dappled with rich gold.

Never was this bird conceived nor springs it from any mortal seed, itself is alike its own father and son, and with none to recreate it, it renews its outworn limbs with a rejuvenation of death, and at each decease wins a fresh lease of life. For when a thousand summers have passed far away, a thousand winters gone by, a thousand springs in their course given to the husbandmen that shade1 of which autumn robbed them, then at last, fordone by the number of its years, it falls a victim to the burden of age; as a tall pine on the summit of Caucasus, wearied with storms, heels over with its weight and threatens at last to crash in ruin; one portion falls by reason of the unceasing winds, another breaks away rotted by the rain, another consumed by the decay of years.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.claudian_claudianus-shorter_poems.1922