nulla viri cura interea nec mentio fiet damnorum. vivit tamquam vicina mariti, 510hoc solo propior, quod amicos coniugis odit et servos, gravis est rationibus. Ecce furentis Bellonae matrisque deum chorus intrat et ingens semivir, obsceno facies reverenda minori, mollia qui rapta secuit genitalia testa 515iam pridem, cui rauca cohors, cui tympana cedunt plebeia et Phrygia vestitur bucca tiara. grande sonat metuique iubet Septembris et Austri adventum, nisi se centum lustraverit ovis et xerampelinas veteres donaverit ipsi, 520ut quidquid subiti et magni discriminis instat in tunicas eat et totum semel expiet annum. hibernum fracta glacie descendet in amnem, ter matutino Tiberi mergetur et ipsis verticibus timidum caput abluet, inde superbi 525totum regis agrum nuda ac tremibunda cruentis erepet genibus; si candida iusserit Io, ibit ad Aegypti finem calidaque petitas a Meroe portabit aquas, ut spargat in aede Isidis, antiquo quae proxima surgit ovili. 530credit enim ipsius dominae se voce moneri.
on tiptoe to be kissed. All the while, she’ll give her husband not a thought. There’ll be no mention of the cost. She behaves as if she were her husband’s neighbour, more intimate only in that she hates her husband’s friends and his slaves, and wrecks his accounts.
Look! In comes the troupe of frenzied Bellona and the Mother of the Gods, 107 along with an enormous eunuch, a face his perverted sidekick must revere. A long time ago now he picked up a shard and cut off his soft genitals. The noisy band and the common drums fall quiet in his presence and his cheeks are clothed in the Phrygian cap. In a booming voice he tells the woman to beware the arrival of September and the southerly winds, unless she purifies herself with a hundred eggs and presents him with her old russet-coloured dresses, to ensure that any serious or unforeseen disaster that’s impending disappears into the clothes and atones for the whole year in one go. In the wintertime she’ll break the ice, step down into the river and submerge herself three times in the morning Tiber, even cleansing her terrified head in those swirling waters. Then, naked and shivering, she’ll crawl right across the Proud King’s Field 108 on bleeding knees. If white Io tells her to, she’ll go to the ends of Egypt and bring back water fetched from sweltering Meroë to sprinkle in Isis’ temple, towering next to the ancient sheepfold. 109 You see, she thinks her instructions come from the voice of the Lady herself!
- 107Closely associated in cult: on Bellona, see 4.123–4n., and on Cybele and her eunuch priests, the Galli, see 2.111n.
- 108The Campus Martius, which belonged to the Tarquin kings until the overthrow of Tarquin the Proud in 510 b.c.
- 109Io was turned into a white heifer and chased by Juno. She visited Egypt and became associated or confused with the goddess Isis. Meroë is further south, a kingdom on the Upper Nile. Isis’ temple in the Campus Martius was next to the polling booths (saepta) which are here called the “sheepfold.”