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Ovid XV Chapter 14: 552-621 Cipus acquires horns
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This strange event amazed the nymphs, and the Amazon's son [Note 1] was no less astounded, than the Tyrrhenian ploughman when he saw a fateful clod of earth in the middle of his fields, first move by itself with no one touching it, then assume the form of a man, losing its earthy nature, and open its newly acquired mouth, to utter things to come. The native people called him Tages, he who first taught the Etruscan race to reveal future events. No less astounded than Romulus, when he saw his spear, that had once grown on the Palatine Hill, suddenly put out leaves, and stand there, not with its point driven in, but with fresh roots: now not a weapon but a tough willow-tree, giving unexpected shade to those who wondered at it. No less astounded than Cipus, the praetor, when he saw his horns in the river's water (truly he saw them) and, thinking it a false likeness of his true form, lifting his hands repeatedly to his forehead, touched what he saw. Unable now to resist the evidence of his eyes, he raised his eyes and arms to the sky, like a victor returning from a beaten enemy, and cried: 'You gods, whatever this unnatural thing portends, if it is happiness, let it be the happiness of my country, and the race of Quirinus: if it is a threat, let it be towards me.' Making a grassy altar of green turf, he appeased the gods with burning incense, and made a libation of wine, and inspected the quivering entrails of sacrificed sheep, as to what they portended for him. As soon as the Tyrrhenian seer, there, saw them, he recognised the signs of great happenings, not yet manifest, and when indeed he raised his keen eyes from the sheep's entrails to Cipus's forehead, he cried: 'Hail! O King! You, even you, Cipus, and your horns, this place, and Latium's citadels, shall obey. Only no delay: hurry and enter the open gates! So fate commands: and received in the city, you will be king, and safely possess the eternal sceptre.' Cipus drew back, and grimly turning his face away from the city's walls, he said: 'Oh, let the gods keep all such things, far, far away, from me! Far better for me to spend my life in exile, than for the Capitol to see me crowned!’ He spoke, and immediately called together the people and the grave senators. First however he hid his horns with the laurels of peace, then standing on a mound raised by resolute soldiers, and praying to the ancient gods as customary, he said: 'There is a man here who shall be king, unless you drive him from the city. I will show you who he is, not by name, but by a sign: he wears horns on his forehead! The augur declares that if he enters Rome, he will grant you only the rights of slaves. He could have forced his way in, through the open gates, but I opposed it, though no one is more closely connected to him than me. Quirites, keep the man out of your city, and, if he deserves it, load him with heavy chains, or end all fear, with the death of this fated tyrant!' There was a sound from the crowd, like the murmur from the pine-trees when the wild East wind whistles through them, or like the waves of the sea, heard from far off: but among the confused cries of the noisy throng, one rang out: 'Who is he?' They looked at each other's forehead looking for the horns foretold. Cipus spoke to them again: 'You have here, whom you seek,' and, taking the wreath from his head, the people trying to prevent him, he showed them his temples, conspicuous by their twin horns. They all sighed, and lowered their eyes (who could believe it?) and were reluctant to look at that distinguished head. Not allowing him any longer to be dishonoured, they replaced the festal wreath. But since you were forbidden to enter the city, Cipus, they gave you, as an honour, as much land as you could enclose, with a team of oxen, harnessed to the plough, between dawn and sunset. And they engraved horns on the bronze gateposts, recalling their marvellous nature, to remain there through the centuries. |
Note 1: the Amazon's son = Hippolytus
Non tamen Egeriae luctus aliena levare |
damna valent; montisque iacens radicibus imis
liquitur in lacrimas, donec pietate dolentis
mota soror Phoebi gelidum de corpore fontem
fecit et aeternas artus tenuavit in undas.
Et nymphas tetigit nova res, et Amazone natus
haut aliter stupuit, quam cum Tyrrhenus arator
fatalem glaebam mediis adspexit in arvis
sponte sua primum nulloque agitante moveri,
sumere mox hominis terraeque amittere formam
oraque venturis aperire recentia fatis:
indigenae dixere Tagen, qui primus Etruscam
edocuit gentem casus aperire futuros;
utve Palatinis haerentem collibus olim
cum subito vidit frondescere Romulus hastam,
quae radice nova, non ferro stabat adacto
et iam non telum, sed lenti viminis arbor
non exspectatas dabat admirantibus umbras;
aut sua fluminea cum vidit Cipus in unda
cornua (vidit enim) falsamque in imagine credens
esse fidem, digitis ad frontem saepe relatis,
quae vidit, tetigit, nec iam sua lumina damnans
restitit, ut victor domito remeabat ab hoste,
ad caelumque oculos et eodem bracchia tollens
'quicquid,' ait 'superi, monstro portenditur isto,
seu laetum est, patriae laetum populoque Quirini,
sive minax, mihi sit.' viridique e caespite factas
placat odoratis herbosas ignibus aras
vinaque dat pateris mactatarumque bidentum,
quid sibi significent, trepidantia consulit exta;
quae simul adspexit Tyrrhenae gentis haruspex,
magna quidem rerum molimina vidit in illis,
non manifesta tamen; cum vero sustulit acre
a pecudis fibris ad Cipi cornua lumen,
'rex,' ait 'o! salve! tibi enim, tibi, Cipe, tuisque
hic locus et Latiae parebunt cornibus arces.
tu modo rumpe moras portasque intrare patentes
adpropera! sic fata iubent; namque urbe receptus
rex eris et sceptro tutus potiere perenni.'
rettulit ille pedem torvamque a moenibus urbis
avertens faciem 'procul, a! procul omnia' dixit
'talia di pellant! multoque ego iustius aevum
exul agam, quam me videant Capitolia regem.'
dixit et extemplo populumque gravemque senatum
convocat, ante tamen pacali cornua lauro
velat et aggeribus factis a milite forti
insistit priscosque deos e more precatus
'est' ait 'hic unus, quem vos nisi pellitis urbe,
rex erit: is qui sit, signo, non nomine dicam:
cornua fronte gerit! quem vobis indicat augur,
si Romam intrarit, famularia iura daturum.
ille quidem potuit portas inrumpere apertas,
sed nos obstitimus, quamvis coniunctior illo
nemo mihi est: vos urbe virum prohibete, Quirites,
vel, si dignus erit, gravibus vincite catenis
aut finite metum fatalis morte tyranni!'
qualia succinctis, ubi trux insibilat eurus,
murmura pinetis fiunt, aut qualia fluctus
aequorei faciunt, siquis procul audiat illos,
tale sonat populus; sed per confusa frementis
verba tamen vulgi vox eminet una 'quis ille est?'
et spectant frontes praedictaque cornua quaerunt.
rursus ad hos Cipus 'quem poscitis,' inquit 'habetis'
et dempta capiti populo prohibente corona
exhibuit gemino praesignia tempora cornu.
demisere oculos omnes gemitumque dedere
atque illud meritis clarum (quis credere possit?)
inviti videre caput: nec honore carere
ulterius passi festam inposuere coronam;
at proceres, quoniam muros intrare vetaris,
ruris honorati tantum tibi, Cipe, dedere,
quantum depresso subiectis bobus aratro
conplecti posses ad finem lucis ab ortu.
cornuaque aeratis miram referentia formam
postibus insculpunt, longum mansura per aevum.