Ovid, Tristia

LCL 151: 8-9

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esse quidem memini mitissima sedibus illis numina, sed timeo qui nocuere deos. 75terretur minimo pennae stridore columba, unguibus, accipiter, saucia facta tuis. nec procul a stabulis audet discedere, siqua excussa est avidi dentibus agna lupi. vitaret caelum Phaëthon, si viveret, et quos 80optarat stulte, tangere nollet equos. me quoque, quae sensi, fateor Iovis arma timere: me reor infesto, cum tonat, igne peti. quicumque Argolica de classe Capherea fugit, semper ab Euboicis vela retorquet aquis; 85et mea cumba semel vasta percussa procella illum, quo laesa est, horret adire locum. ergo cave, liber, et timida circumspice mente, ut satis a media sit tibi plebe legi. dum petit infirmis nimium sublimia pennis 90Icarus, aequoreis nomina fecit aquis.1 difficile est tamen hinc, remis utaris an aura, dicere: consilium resque locusque dabunt. si poteris vacuo tradi, si cuncta videbis mitia, si vires fregerit ira suas, 95siquis erit, qui te dubitantem et adire timentem tradat, et ante tamen pauca loquatur, adi. luce bona dominoque tuo felicior ipse pervenias illuc et mala nostra leves. namque ea vel nemo, vel qui mihi vulnera fecit 100solus Achilleo tollere more potest.


Tristia, I.I

of mine. There are, I know, in those shrines deities of exceeding mercy, but I still fear the gods who have wrought me harm. The least rustle of a feather brings dread upon the dove that thy talons, O hawk, have wounded. Nor does any lamb, once wrested from the teeth of a ravenous wolf, venture to go far from the fold. Phaëthon would avoid the sky if he were alive; the steeds which in his folly he desired, he would refuse to touch. I too admit—for I have felt it—that I fear the weapon of Jupiter: I believe myself the target of a hostile bolt whenever the thunder roars. Every man of the Argive fleet who escaped the Capherean rocks always turns his sails away from the waters of Euboea; and even so my bark, once shattered by a mighty storm, dreads to approach that place where it was wrecked. Therefore be careful, my book, and look all around with timid heart, so as to find content in being read by ordinary folk. By seeking too lofty heights on weak wings Icarus gave a name to waters of the sea. Yet from this position of mine ’tis hard to say whether you should use the oars or the breeze. You will be advised by the time and the place. If you can be handed to him1 when he is at leisure, if you see everything kindly disposed, if his anger has lost its keenness, if there is anybody, while you are hesitating in fear to approach, who will hand you to him, introducing you with but a few brief words—then approach him. On a lucky day and with better fortune than your master may you arrive there and lighten my misfortunes. For either nobody can remove them or, in the fashion of Achilles, that man only who

  • 1The Emperor.
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.ovid-tristia.1924