IAMQUE PEDEM REFERENS ... ORPHEUS RETURNS FROM THE UNDERWORLD
Virgil - Georgics IV tr. Arthur McHugh


Iamque pedem referens casus evaserat omnes; 
redditaque Eurydice superas veniebat ad auras,
pone sequens, namque hanc dederat Proserpina legem,
cum subita incautum dementia cepit amantem,
ignoscenda quidem, scirent si ignoscere manes.
Restitit Eurydicenque suam iam luce sub ipsa
immemor heu! victusque animi respexit. Ibi omnis
effusus labor atque immitis rupta tyranni
foedera, terque fragor stagnis auditus Avernis.
Illa, Quis et me, inquit, miseram et te perdidit, Orpheu,
quis tantus furor? En iterum crudelia retro
Fata vocant, conditque natantia lumina somnus.
Iamque vale: feror ingenti circumdata nocte
invalidasque tibi tendens, heu non tua, palmas!
dixit et ex oculis subito, ceu fumus in auras
commixtus tenues, fugit diversa, neque illum, 
prensantem nequiquam umbras et multa volentem
dicere, praeterea vidit, nec portitor Orci
amplius obiectam passus transire paludem.

And now, on the way back, he had escaped
every danger. Eurydice, restored
to him, was following behind - because
Proserpina had made that conditon -
and the light of day was getting closer,
when the heedless lover was suddenly
seized by madness, forgivable enough
if the Shades knew how to forgive. He stopped,
and, already in daylight, overcome
by emotion, all forgetful - alas! -
he looked back at his Eurydice.
Then all his trouble had gone for nothing,
the compact with the pitiless tyrant
had been broken, and in the infernal
swamps a resounding crash echoed three times.
"What madness has ruined us, Orpheus?"
she cried, "Both you and wretched, wretched me!
See, the cruel Fates are calling me back
and my swimming eyes are heavy with sleep.
So now farewell. I am carried away,
enveloped in darkest night, stretching out
my weak hands to you. But alas! I am
yours no longer." With that, she suddenly
fled backward from his sight, like smoke mingling
with a zephyr; and thereafter she saw
no more of him as he clutched hopelessly
at shadows, trying to say all he felt.
And the ferryman of Orcus stopped him
from re-crossing the intervening swamp.

Trans. Copyright © Arthur McHugh 2008


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