ARGOLICI REDIERE DUCES ... from PENELOPE'S LETTER TO ULYSSES
Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) tr. Arthur McHugh



Argolici rediere duces, altaria fumant,
ponitur ad patrios barbara praeda deos.
grata ferunt nymphae pro salvis dona maritis;
illi victa suis Troia fata canunt:
mirantur iustique senes trepidaeque puellae,
narrantis coniunx pendet ab ore viri.
atque aliquis posita monstrat fera proelia mensa
pingit et exiguo Pergama tota mero:
hac ibat Simois, haec est Sigeia tellus,
hic steterat Priami regia celsa senis;


* * * * * *

si maneo, qualis Troia durante manebam,
virque mihi dempto fine carendus abest?
diruta sunt aliis, uni mihi Pergama restant,
incola captivo quae bove victor arat;
iam seges est, ubi Troia fuit, resecandaque falce
luxuriat Phrygio sanguine pinguis humus;
semisepulta virum curvis feriuntur aratris
ossa, ruinosas occulit herba domos.


The Greek leaders are home again: altars
smoke, plunder from Troy is being offered
to our ancestral gods. Grateful because
their husbands have returned safely, the wives
make thank-offerings; meanwhile, the men sing
about their conquest of Troy. Both sober
elders and restless girls marvel; a wife
hangs upon her husband's lips as he tells
his tale. Drawing up a table, someone
illustrates tierce battles, and represents
the whole of Troy by a little wine. The
river Simois flowed here; the Trojan
territory is here and here stood old
Priam's lofty palace.
* * * * * *
Whilst for others, the citadel of Troy
is no more, for me alone it remains,
ploughed now by the conqueror's yoked oxen.
Where Troy used to be, there is only earth
soaked in Trojan blood; already there is
a crop ready for the sickle. Curved ploughs
strike half-buried human bones. Grass covers
the ruined houses.

Trans. Copyright © Arthur McHugh 2008


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