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Quote of the day: It is a disagreeable task in the case of
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The Aeneid by Virgil
translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book III Chapter 10: Prophecy of Celaeno the Harpy
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When from the deep the shores had faded far,
and only sky and sea were round our way,
full in the zenith hung a purple cloud,
storm-laden, dark as night, and every wave
grew black and angry, while perpetual gales
came rolling o'er the main, and mountain-high
the wreckful surges rose; our ships were hurled
wide o'er the whirling waters; thunder-clouds
and misty murk of night made end of all
the light of heaven, save where the rifted storm
flashed with the oft-reiterate shaft of Jove.
Then went we drifting, beaten from our course,
upon a trackless sea. Not even the eyes
of Palinurus could tell night from noon
or ken our way. Three days of blinding dark,
three nights without a star, we roved the seas;
The fourth, land seemed to rise. Far distant hills
and rolling smoke we saw. Down came our sails,
out flew the oars, and with prompt stroke the crews
swept the dark waves and tossed the crested foam.
From such sea-peril safe, I made the shores
of Strophades, -- a name the Grecians gave
to islands in the broad Ionic main, --
the Strophades, where dread Celaeno bides,
with other Harpies, who had quit the halls
of stricken Phineus, and for very fear
fled from the routed feast; no prodigy
more vile than these, nor plague more pitiless
ere rose by wrath divine from Stygian wave;
birds seem they, but with face like woman-kind;
foul-flowing bellies, hands with crooked claws,
and ghastly lips they have, with hunger pale.
Scarce had we made the haven, when, behold!
Fair herds of cattle roaming a wide plain,
and horned goats, untended, feeding free
in pastures green, surprised our happy eyes.
with eager blades we ran to take and slay,
asking of every god, and chiefly Jove,
to share the welcome prize: we ranged a feast,
with turf-built couches and a banquet-board
along the curving strand. But in a trice,
down from the high hills swooping horribly,
the Harpies loudly shrieking, flapped their wings,
snatched at our meats, and with infectious touch
polluted all; infernal was their cry,
the stench most vile. Once more in covert far
beneath a caverned rock, and close concealed
with trees and branching shade, we raised aloft
our tables, altars, and rekindled fires.
Once more from haunts unknown the clamorous flock
from every quarter flew, and seized its prey
with taloned feet and carrion lip most foul.
I called my mates to arms and opened war
on that accursed brood. My band obeyed;
and, hiding in deep grass their swords and shields,
in ambush lay. But presently the foe
swept o'er the winding shore with loud alarm :
then from a sentry-crag, Misenus blew
a signal on his hollow horn. My men
flew to the combat strange, and fain would wound
with martial steel those foul birds of the sea;
but on their sides no wounding blade could fall,
nor any plume be marred. In swiftest flight
to starry skies they soared, and left on earth
their half-gnawed, stolen feast, and footprints foul.
Celaeno only on a beetling crag
took lofty perch, and, prophetess of ill,
shrieked malediction from her vulture breast:
"Because of slaughtered kine and ravished herd,
sons of Laomedon, have ye made war?
And will ye from their rightful kingdom drive
the guiltless Harpies? Hear, O, hear my word
(Long in your bosoms may it rankle sore!)
which Jove omnipotent to Phoebus gave,
Phoebus to me: a word of doom, which I,
the Furies' elder sister, here unfold:
‘To Italy ye fare. The willing winds
your call have heard; and ye shall have your prayer
in some Italian haven safely moored.
But never shall ye rear the circling walls
of your own city, till for this our blood
by you unjustly spilt, your famished jaws
bite at your tables, aye, -- and half devour.’"

Events: The wanderings of Aeneas, Prophecy of Celaeno

Postquam altum tenuere rates nec iam amplius ullae
apparent terrae, caelum undique et undique pontus,
tum mihi caeruleus supra caput astitit imber
noctem hiememque ferens, et inhorruit unda tenebris.
continuo uenti uoluunt mare magnaque surgunt
aequora, dispersi iactamur gurgite uasto;
inuoluere diem nimbi et nox umida caelum
abstulit, ingeminant abruptis nubibus ignes,
excutimur cursu et caecis erramus in undis.
ipse diem noctemque negat discernere caelo
nec meminisse uiae media Palinurus in unda.
tris adeo incertos caeca caligine soles
erramus pelago, totidem sine sidere noctes.
quarto terra die primum se attollere tandem
uisa, aperire procul montis ac uoluere fumum.
uela cadunt, remis insurgimus; haud mora, nautae
adnixi torquent spumas et caerula uerrunt
seruatum ex undis Strophadum me litora primum
excipiunt. Strophades Graio stant nomine dictae
insulae Ionio in magno, quas dira Celaeno
Harpyiaeque colunt aliae, Phineia postquam
clausa domus mensasque metu liquere priores.
tristius haud illis monstrum, nec saeuior ulla
pestis et ira deum Stygiis sese extulit undis.
uirginei uolucrum uultus, foedissima uentris
proluuies uncaeque manus et pallida semper
ora fame.
huc ubi delati portus intrauimus, ecce
laeta boum passim campis armenta uidemus
caprigenumque pecus nullo custode per herbas.
inruimus ferro et diuos ipsumque uocamus
in partem praedamque Iouem; tum litore curuo
exstruimusque toros dapibusque epulamur opimis.
at subitae horrifico lapsu de montibus adsunt
Harpyiae et magnis quatiunt clangoribus alas,
diripiuntque dapes contactuque omnia foedant
immundo; tum uox taetrum dira inter odorem.
rursum in secessu longo sub rupe cauata
[arboribus clausam circum atque horrentibus umbris]
instruimus mensas arisque reponimus ignem;
rursum ex diuerso caeli caecisque latebris
turba sonans praedam pedibus circumuolat uncis,
polluit ore dapes. sociis tunc arma capessant
edico, et dira bellum cum gente gerendum.
haud secus ac iussi faciunt tectosque per herbam
disponunt ensis et scuta latentia condunt.
ergo ubi delapsae sonitum per curua dedere
litora, dat signum specula Misenus ab alta
aere cauo. inuadunt socii et noua proelia temptant,
obscenas pelagi ferro foedare uolucris.
sed neque uim plumis ullam nec uulnera tergo
accipiunt, celerique fuga sub sidera lapsae
semesam praedam et uestigia foeda relinquunt.
una in praecelsa consedit rupe Celaeno,
infelix uates, rumpitque hanc pectore uocem;
'bellum etiam pro caede boum stratisque iuuencis,
Laomedontiadae, bellumne inferre paratis
et patrio Harpyias insontis pellere regno?
accipite ergo animis atque haec mea figite dicta,
quae Phoebo pater omnipotens, mihi Phoebus Apollo
praedixit, uobis Furiarum ego maxima pando.
Italiam cursu petitis uentisque uocatis:
ibitis Italiam portusque intrare licebit.
sed non ante datam cingetis moenibus urbem
quam uos dira fames nostraeque iniuria caedis
ambesas subigat malis absumere mensas.'