Terra tuum spinis obducat, lena, sepulcrum, et tua, quod non vis, sentiat umbra sitim; nec sedeant cineri Manes, et Cerberus ultor turpia ieiuno terreat ossa sono!
5docta vel Hippolytum Veneri mollire negantem, concordique toro pessima semper avis, Penelopen quoque neglecto rumore mariti nubere lascivo cogeret Antinoo. illa velit, poterit magnes non ducere ferrum, 10et volucris nidis esse noverca suis. quippe et, Collinas ad fossam moverit herbas, stantia currenti diluerentur aqua: audax cantatae leges imponere lunae et sua nocturno fallere terga lupo, 15posset ut intentos astu caecare maritos, cornicum immeritas eruit ungue genas; consuluitque striges nostro de sanguine, et in me hippomanes fetae semina legit equae. exercebat opus tenebris, ceu blatta papyron 20suffossamque forat sedula talpa viam.
- 19exercebat Housman: exorabat Ω | tenebris Goold*: verbis Ω (<tebris) | blatta Palmer: blanda Ω | papyron Havet: perure Ω
- 20suffossamque Goold* forat Rossberg: saxosamque ferat Ω | talpa ς: culpa Ω
4.5 The bawd Acanthis
May the earth cover your grave with thorns, bawd, and, what you abhor, may your shade feel thirst; may your spirit find no peace with your ashes, but may avenging Cerberus terrify your vile bones with hungry howl.
Skilled to win over even Hippolytus 50 who said no to love, and ever the worst omen to a happy union, she could force Penelope herself to disregard the rumour of her husband’s safety, and marry dissolute Antinous. Should she wish it, a magnet will refuse to draw iron and a bird will prove a step-mother to her brood. Indeed, if she has brought Colline herbs 51 to the magic trench, standing crops would dissolve into running water. She dared to put spells on the bewitched moon and to hide her shape under the form of a night-prowling wolf; she tore out with her nails the undeserving eyes of ravens so as to be able to blind watchful husbands by her arts; she consulted screech owls on how she might have my blood, and for my undoing gathered the charm that drips from the pregnant mare. 52 She would ply her trade in the darkness, like the bookworm which bores through papyrus and the untiring mole that drills its subterranean path. 53
- 50Cf. The Archpoet’s confession ‘Si ponas Hippolytum hodie Paviae, / Non erit Hippolytus in sequenti die.’
- 51Unchaste Vestals were buried alive in the Campus Scele-ratus just outside the Colline Gate, and herbs gathered from this spot would, obviously, possess special efficacy in witchcraft.
- 52Hippomanes, ἱππομανές, a secretion discharged by a mare in heat or pregnancy, was used in concocting love-potions and aphrodisiacs.
- 53Before the next verse Guyet postulated the loss of a couplet to introduce the speech.