from "METAMORPHOSES XIV" 1-31
Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)prose tr. Mary Innes
Jamque giganteis injectam faucibus Aetnam,
Arvaque Cyclopum, quid rastra, quis usus aratri,
Nescia, nec quicquam junctis debentia bobus,
Liquerat Euboicus tumidarum cultor aquarum:
Liquerat et Zanclen, adversaque moenia Rhegi,
Navifragumque fretum, gemino quod littore pressum:
Ausoniae Siculaeque tenet confinia terrae.
Inde manu magna Tyrrhena per aequora vectus,
Herbiferos adiit colles, atque atria Glaucus
Sole satae Circes, variarum plena ferarum.
Quam simul aspexit, dicta, acceptaque salute,
Diva Dei miserere, precor: nam sola levare
Tu potes hunc, dixit, (videar modo dignus) amorem.
Quanta sit herbarum, Titani, potentia nulli
Quam mihi cognitius, qui sum mutatus ab illis:
Neve mei non nota tibi sit causa furori,
Littore in Italico, Messenia moenia contra,
Scylla mihi visa est. Pudor est, promissa precesque
Blanditiasque meas, contemptaque verba referre.
At tu, sive aliquod regnum est in carmine, carmen
Ore move sacro; sive expugnantior herba est,
Utere tentatis operosae viribus herbae,
Nec medeare mihi sanesque haec vulnera mando;
Fineque nil opus est: partem ferat illa caloris.
At Circe (neque enim flammis habet aptius ulla
Talibus ingenium: seu causa est hujus in ipsa,
Seu Venus indicio facit hoc offensa paterno)
Talia verba refert: Melius sequerere volentem,
Optantemque eadem, parilique cupidine captam.
Dignus eras, ultro poteras certeque rogari:
Et, si spem dederis, mihi crede, rogaberis ultro.
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Already Etna lay behind him, the mountain piled on top of a giant's jaws, and the fields of the Cyclopes too, whose harvests owed nothing to teams of oxen, where the use of plough or harrow was unknown. He had passe by Zancle, and the walls of Rhegium lying on the opposite coast, and come through the strait that separates Italy from Sicily, where many a ship has been wrecked in the narrow channel between the two shores. From there, swimming strongly across the Etruscan sea, the god whose home is in the surging waters of Euboea approached the domain of Circe, daughter of the sun, her herb-covered hillsides and her palace thronged with the victims she had transformed into beasts. As soon as Glaucus saw the goddess and had exchanged greetings with her, he burst out: 'Goddess, I implore you, take pity on a god! For you alone can relieve this love of mine, if only you think me deserving of your help. No one knows better than I, daughter of Titan, how potent herbs can be, for they transformed me. But in case you do not know the reason for my frenzy, I shall tell you what has happened. 'On the Italian shore, opposite the walls of Messana, I caught sight of Scylla. I am ashamed to tell you of the promises and prayers I made, the endearments I uttered, only to have her treat them all with scorn. But now, if spells have any power, pronounce a spell with those sacred lips of yours: or, if herbs are more effective, employ the tested virtues of some potent herb on my behalf. I do not ask you to cure me. or to heal these wounds of mine. There is no need to put an end to my love, only let her share my burning passion.' Now whether it was due to her own nature, or to Venus, in her anger at the tales Circe's father had told, no one had a heart more susceptible to love than Circe. Accordingly she said to Glaucus in reply: 'You would do better to pursue someone whose wishes and desires are the same as your own, one held captive by a love that matches yours. You deserved to be the one who was courted: you certainly could have been and indeed, if you hold out any hope, believe me, you will be yet.
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Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Mary M. Innes, 1955 - publ. Penguin Classics


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