BkIIII Virgil Off to Greece
May the goddess, queen of Cyprus,
and Helen’s brothers, the brightest of stars,
and father of the winds, Aeolus,
confining all except Iapyga, guide you,
ship, that owes us Virgil, given
to your care, guide you to Attica’s shores,
bring him safely there I beg you,
and there watch over half of my spirit.
Triple bronze and oak encircled
the breast of the man who first committed
his fragile bark to the cruel sea,
without fearing the fierce south-westerlies
fighting with the winds from the north,
the sad Hyades, or the raging south,
master of the Adriatic,
whether he stirs or he calms the ocean.
What form of death could he have feared,
who gazed, dry-eyed, on swimming monsters,
saw the waves of the sea boiling,
and Acroceraunia’s infamous cliffs?
Useless for a wise god to part
the lands, with a far-severing Ocean,
if impious ships, in spite of him,
travel the depths he wished inviolable.
Daring enough for anything,
the human race deals in forbidden sin.
That daring son of Iapetus
brought fire, by impious cunning, to men.
When fire was stolen from heaven
its home, wasting disease and a strange crowd
of fevers covered the whole earth,
and death’s powers, that had been slow before
and far away, quickened their step.
Daedalus tried the empty air on wings
that were never granted to men:
Hercules’ labours shattered Acheron.
Nothing’s too high for mortal men:
like fools, we aim at the heavens themselves,
sinful, we won’t let Jupiter
set aside his lightning bolts of anger.
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