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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book II Chapter 7: Sinon's tale (cont.)
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We ply him [Note 1] then with passionate appeal|
and question all his cause: of guilt so dire
or such Greek guile we harbored not the thought.
So on he prates, with well-feigned grief and fear,
and from his lying heart thus told his tale:
Full oft the Greeks had fain achieved their flight,
and raised the Trojan siege, and sailed away
war-wearied quite. O, would it had been so!
Full oft the wintry tumult of the seas
did wall them round, and many a swollen storm
their embarcation stayed. But chiefly when,
all fitly built of beams of maple fair,
this horse stood forth, -- what thunders filled the skies!
With anxious fears we sent Eurypylus
to ask Apollo's word; and from the shrine
he brings the sorrowful commandment home:
By flowing blood and by a virgin [Note 2] slain
the wild winds were appeased, when first ye came,
ye sons of Greece, to Ilium's distant shore.
Through blood ye must return. Let some Greek life
your expiation be. The popular ear
the saying caught, all spirits were dimmed o'er;
cold doubt and horror through each bosom ran,
asking what fate would do, and on what wretch
Apollo's choice would fall. Ulysses, then,
amid the people's tumult and acclaim,
thrust Calchas forth, some prophecy to tell
to all the throng: he asked him o'er and o'er
what Heaven desired. Already not a few
foretold the murderous plot, and silently
watched the dark doom upon my life impend.
Twice five long days the seer his lips did seal,
and hid himself, refusing to bring forth
His word of guile, and name what wretch should die.
At last, reluctant, and all loudly urged
By false Ulysses, he fulfils their plot,
and, lifting up his voice oracular,
points out myself the victim to be slain.
Nor did one voice oppose. The mortal stroke
horribly hanging o'er each coward head
was changed to one man's ruin, and their hearts
endured it well. Soon rose th' accursed morn;
the bloody ritual was ready; salt
was sprinkled on the sacred loaf; my brows
were bound with fillets for the offering.
But I escaped that death -- yes! I deny not!
I cast my fetters off, and darkling lay
concealed all night in lake-side sedge and mire,
awaiting their departure, if perchance
they should in truth set sail. But nevermore
shall my dear, native country greet these eyes.
No more my father or my tender babes
shall I behold. Nay, haply their own lives
are forfeit, when my foemen take revenge
for my escape, and slay those helpless ones,
in expiation of my guilty deed.
O, by yon powers in heaven which witness truth,
by aught in this dark world remaining now
of spotless human faith and innocence,
I do implore thee look with pitying eye
on these long sufferings my heart hath borne.
O, pity! I deserve not what I bear.
Tum uero ardemus scitari et quaerere causas,
ignari scelerum tantorum artisque Pelasgae.
prosequitur pauitans et ficto pectore fatur:
'Saepe fugam Danai Troia cupiere relicta
moliri et longo fessi discedere bello;
fecissentque utinam! saepe illos aspera ponti
interclusit hiems et terruit Auster euntis.
praecipue cum iam hic trabibus contextus acernis
staret equus, toto sonuerunt aethere nimbi.
suspensi Eurypylum scitatum oracula Phoebi
mittimus, isque adytis haec tristia dicta reportat:
"sanguine placastis uentos et uirgine caesa,
cum primum Iliacas, Danai, uenistis ad oras;
sanguine quaerendi reditus animaque litandum
Argolica." uulgi quae uox ut uenit ad auris,
obstipuere animi gelidusque per ima cucurrit
ossa tremor, cui fata parent, quem poscat Apollo.
hic Ithacus uatem magno Calchanta tumultu
protrahit in medios; quae sint ea numina diuum
flagitat. et mihi iam multi crudele canebant
artificis scelus, et taciti uentura uidebant.
bis quinos silet ille dies tectusque recusat
prodere uoce sua quemquam aut opponere morti.
uix tandem, magnis Ithaci clamoribus actus,
composito rumpit uocem et me destinat arae.
adsensere omnes et, quae sibi quisque timebat,
unius in miseri exitium conuersa tulere.
iamque dies infanda aderat; mihi sacra parari
et salsae fruges et circum tempora uittae.
eripui, fateor, leto me et uincula rupi,
limosoque lacu per noctem obscurus in ulua
delitui dum uela darent, si forte dedissent.
nec mihi iam patriam antiquam spes ulla uidendi
nec dulcis natos exoptatumque parentem,
quos illi fors et poenas ob nostra reposcent
effugia, et culpam hanc miserorum morte piabunt.
quod te per superos et conscia numina ueri,
per si qua est quae restet adhuc mortalibus usquam
intemerata fides, oro, miserere laborum
tantorum, miserere animi non digna ferentis.'