from "HEROIDES - VII"DIDO TO AENEAS
Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)tr. Harold Isbell
Sic ubi fata vocant, udis abiectus in herbis
ad vada Maeandri concinit albus olor.
Nec quia te nostra sperem prece posse moveri,
alloquor: adverso movimus ista deo!
sed meriti famam corpusque animumque pudicum
cum male perdiderim, perdere verba leve est.




Certus es ire tamen miseramque relinquere Didon
atque idem venti vela fidemque ferent.
certus es, Aenea, cum foedere solvere naves
quaeque ubi sint nescis, Itala regna sequi.
nec nova Karthago, nec te crescentia tangunt
moenia nec sceptro tradita summa tuo.
facta fugis, facienda petis; quaerenda per orbem
altera, quaesita est altera terra tibi.






ut terram invemas, quis eam tibi tradet habendam?
quis sua non notis arva tenenda dabit?
alter habendus amor tibi restat et altera Dido
quamque iterum fallas, altera danda fides.
quando erit, ut condas instar Karthaginis urbem
et videas populos altus ab arce tuos?
omnia ut eveniant, nec di tua vota morentur,
unde tibi, quae te sic amet, uxor erit?




Uror ut inducto ceratae sulpure taedae,
ut pia fumosis addita tura rogis.
Aeneas oculis vigilantis semper inhaeret;
Aenean animo noxque diesque refert.
ille quidem male gratus et ad mea munera surdus
et quo, si non sim stulta, carere velim.
............
............
And so, at fate's call, the white swan lets himself
down in the water-soaked grasses by
the Meander's shoreline to sing his last song;
but I will not hope to move your heart
with my prayer because the god opposes me.
After the loss of all that is mine,
good name, chastity of both body and soul,
a loss of words is not important.

But I ask again: are you still determined
to abandon me to misery
and permit both your ships and your promises
to sail from this shore on the same wind?
Aeneas, are you still deterrnined to leave
both your mooring and your solemn pledge
to seek a kingdom in remote Italy,
a place whose shores you have never seen?
Aren't you impressed by the new walls of Carthage
and the sceptre I've placed in your hand?
You have rejected what is done and insist
on pursuing some unfinished work.
I have given you a kingdom; still you seek,
through all the world, a land of your own.

Let us suppose you find the country you seek:
who would give it to you? Is there one
man who would trust a foreigner in his fields?
You must win another Dido's love,
you must give pledges to some other woman
and I know you will again be false.
How do you hope to found another city
like this so that you in a tower
can observe a people that belongs to you?
If all your wishes were granted now,
without any further delay, could you find
a wife who will love you as I have loved you?

Like devout incense thrown on smoking altars,
like wax torches tipped with sulphur, I
am burning with love: all day long and all night,
I desire nothing but Aeneas.
But Aeneas is not grateful; he rejects
my care for him. If I had no love
for him he could go,and I would be willing.
............
............

Trans. Copyright © Harold Isbell, 1990 - publ. Penguin Classics


...buy this book
next
index
translator's next