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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book XI Chapter 21: Camilla devoted to Diana
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Latona's daughter, whose benignant grace |
protects this grove, behold, her father now
gives thee this babe for handmaid! Lo, thy spear
her infant fingers hold, as from her foes
she flies a suppliant to thee! Receive,
O goddess, I implore, what now I cast
upon the perilous air. -- He spoke, and hurled
with lifted arm the whirling shaft. The waves
roared loud, as on the whistling javelin
hapless Camilla crossed th' impetuous flood.
But Metabus, his foes in hot pursuit,
dared plunge him in mid-stream, and, triumphing,
soon plucked from grass-grown river-bank the spear,
the child upon it, -- now to Trivia vowed,
a virgin offering. Him nevermore
could cities hold, nor would his wild heart yield
its sylvan freedom, but his days were passed
with shepherds on the solitary hills.
His daughter too in tangled woods he bred:
a brood-mare from the milk of her fierce breast
suckled the child, and to its tender lips
Her udders moved; and when the infant feet
their first firm steps had taken, the small palms
were armed with a keen javelin; her sire
a bow and quiver from her shoulder slung.
Instead of golden combs and flowing pall,
she wore, from her girl-forehead backward thrown,
the whole skin of a tigress; with soft hands
she made her plaything of a whirling spear,
or, swinging round her head the polished thong
of her good sling, she fetched from distant sky
Strymonian cranes or swans of spotless wing.
From Tuscan towns proud matrons oft in vain
sought her in marriage for their sons; but she
to Dian only turned her stainless heart,
her virgin freedom and her huntress' arms
with faithful passion serving. Would that now
this love of war had ne'er seduced her mind
the Teucrians to provoke! So might she be
one of our wood-nymphs still. But haste, I pray,
for bitter is her now impending doom.
Descend, dear nymph [Note 1], from heaven, and explore
the country of the Latins, where the fight
with unpropitious omens now begins.
These weapons take, and from this quiver draw
a vengeful arrow, wherewith he who dares
to wound her sacred body, though he be
a Trojan or Italian, shall receive
bloody and swift reward at my command.
Then, in a cloud concealed, I will consign
her corpse, ill-fated but inviolate
unto the sepulchre, restoring so
the virgin to her native land. Thus spake
the goddess; but her handmaid, gliding down,
took her loud pathway on the moving winds,
and mantled in dark storm her shape divine.
Note 1: nymph = Opis
"alma, tibi hanc, nemorum cultrix, Latonia uirgo,
ipse pater famulam uoueo; tua prima per auras
tela tenens supplex hostem fugit. accipe, testor,
diua tuam, quae nunc dubiis committitur auris."
dixit, et adducto contortum hastile lacerto
immittit: sonuere undae, rapidum super amnem
infelix fugit in iaculo stridente Camilla.
at Metabus magna propius iam urgente caterua
dat sese fluuio, atque hastam cum uirgine uictor
gramineo, donum Triuiae, de caespite uellit.
non illum tectis ullae, non moenibus urbes
accepere (neque ipse manus feritate dedisset),
pastorum et solis exegit montibus aeuum.
hic natam in dumis interque horrentia lustra
armentalis equae mammis et lacte ferino
nutribat teneris immulgens ubera labris.
utque pedum primis infans uestigia plantis
institerat, iaculo palmas armauit acuto
spiculaque ex umero paruae suspendit et arcum.
pro crinali auro, pro longae tegmine pallae
tigridis exuuiae per dorsum a uertice pendent.
tela manu iam tum tenera puerilia torsit
et fundam tereti circum caput egit habena
Strymoniamque gruem aut album deiecit olorem.
multae illam frustra Tyrrhena per oppida matres
optauere nurum; sola contenta Diana
aeternum telorum et uirginitatis amorem
intemerata colit. uellem haud correpta fuisset
militia tali conata lacessere Teucros:
cara mihi comitumque foret nunc una mearum.
uerum age, quandoquidem fatis urgetur acerbis,
labere, nympha, polo finisque inuise Latinos,
tristis ubi infausto committitur omine pugna.
haec cape et ultricem pharetra deprome sagittam:
hac, quicumque sacrum uiolarit uulnere corpus,
Tros Italusque, mihi pariter det sanguine poenas.
post ego nube caua miserandae corpus et arma
inspoliata feram tumulo patriaeque reponam.'
dixit, at illa leuis caeli delapsa per auras
insonuit nigro circumdata turbine corpus.