Friday, April 24, 2009

Ovidian Odyssey, Odyssean Ovid

of the warlord from Ithaca our educated poets
should write about my misadventures: I've undergone
worse troubles than he did. He wandered for years--but only
on the short haul between Ithaca and Troy;
thrust to the Getic shore by Caesar's wrath, I've traversed
seas lying beneath unknown stars,
whole constellations distant. He had his loyal companions,
his faithful crew: my comrades deserted me
at the time of my banishment. Hew as making for his homeland,
a cheerful victor: I was driven from mine--
fugitive, exile, victim. My home was not some Greek island,
Ithaca, Samos--to leave them is no great loss--
but the City that from its seven hills scans the world's orbit,
Rome, centre of empire, seat of the gods.
He was physically tough, with great stamina, long-enduring;
my strength is slight, a gentle man's. He spent
a lifetime under arms, engaged in savage warfare--
I'm accustomed to quieter pursuits.
I was crushed by a god, with no help in my troubles:
he had that warrior-goddess by his side.
And just as Jove outranks the god of the rough ocean,
so he suffered Neptune's anger, I bear Jove's.
What's more, the bulk of his troubles are fictitious,
whereas mine remain anything but myth!
Finally, he got back to the home of his questing, recovered
the acres he'd sought so long; but I,
unless the injured deity's wrath diminish, am sundered
for everlasting from my native soil!
(Ovid, Tristia 1.5.56-84; trans. Green)

Sing, Muse, of the man of many metamorphoses...

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