Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

Who turning ever treads the self-same round
Watching Orion, and alone of all

Partakes not in the baths of Ocean's stream.

We may remark that the two characteristics of the Bear are here noted it never sets and appears to turn round a fixed point in the heavens. From the last circumstance the name of Helice ('Eλíxn) was bestowed on the group, in addition to the other appellations.

In after times it was associated with the legend of Callisto, daughter of Lycaon, king of Arcadia. This damsel attached herself to the train of Artemis, but was deceived and betrayed by Zeus, upon which Hera in wrath transformed her into a bear. After wandering for many years in this shape, she was encountered and well nigh slain by her son Arcas, but Zeus arrested the arrow as it was quitting the bow, and to recompense his mistress for her sufferings, planted her as a constellation in the heavens. Arcas became Arctophylax or Bootes, his dog The Lesser Bear. Hera still burning with jealousy, begged as a boon from Tethys, that her rival might never be permitted to cool herself in the waters of the deep. Thus Ov. Fast. II. 187.

Hanc puer ignarus iaculo fixisset acuto;

Ni foret in superas raptus uterque domus.

Signa propinqua micant. Prior est quam dicimus Arcton;
Arctophylax formam terga sequentis habet.

Sævit adhuc, canamque rogat Saturnia Tethyn
Mænaliam tactis ne lavet Arcton aquis,

and again Met. II. 508.

Gurgite cœruleo septem prohibete triones.

The address of Ceres, when in search of her lost daughter, refers to the same phenomenon.

Parrhasides stellæ, namque omnia nosse potestis,
Equoreas nunquam quum subeatis aquas,
Persephonem miseræ natam monstrate parenti:
Dixerat. Huic Helice talia verba refert.

The Lesser Bear was also termed Cynosura (xvvòs ovgà), or Dog's tail. The Grecian mariners steered their course by the Greater Bear, while the Phoenicians, as might have been expected from their superior

1 There were several different accounts of the parentage of Callisto, as may be seen from Apollod. 111. 8, 2. According to Apollodorus she was changed into a bear by Zeus, and shot by Artemis. The common version of the story is given by Ov. Met. II. 401. seqq. Fast. 11. 155. seqq. Apollodorus says nothing about Arcas being turned into a constellation.

skill in navigation, chose Cynosura as their guide, and probably the Pole-star itself. Thus Ovid, when expatiating on the ignorance of astronomy which prevailed in the age of Romulus, exclaims, Fast. III. 105.

Quis tunc aut Hyadas, aut Pleiadas Atlanteas
Senserat, aut geminos esse sub axe polos?
Esse duas Arctos; quarum Cynosura petatur
Sidoniis, Helicen Graia carina notet?

and Hygin. Poet. Astron. II. 2. "Omnes qui Peloponesum incolunt, priore utuntur Arcto: Phoenices autem, quam a suo inventore acceperunt, observant Cynosuram, et hanc studiosius perspiciendo diligentius navigare existimantur."

From what has been said above the various epithets and periphrases employed to denote these personages will be readily understood, such are, Virgo Tegeæa, Virgo Nonucrina, Periura Lycaoni, Mænalis Ursa, Lycaoniam Arcton, Custos Ursa, Custos Erymanthidos Ursæ, Parrhasia gelido virginis axe premor, &c.

54. (Horam...quæ foret apta.) It is well known that in many parts of the east to this day no one will set out upon a journey, nor commence any important undertaking until "a lucky hour" has been fixed upon by an astrologer.

55. (Ter limen tetigi.) See note on Ov. Her. XIII. 88. p. 241. 60. (Pignora,) pledges, pledges of love, hence children, and hence relations and friends in general. Thus Plin. Ep. I. 12. Corellium... habentem...filiam, uxorem, nepotem, sorores, interque tot pignora, veros amicos."

61. (Scythia.) "The name of Scythians is quite as vague in ancient geography, as those of Tartars and Monguls are at present. We sometimes find the name applied to a particular people, and sometimes to all the nomad tribes who were settled throughout that immense tract of country extending from the north of the Black and Caspian seas, into the heart of Asia. The same uncertainty prevails in the use of a name for the country, the term Scythia being sometimes applied to the region inhabited by Scythians properly so called, and sometimes employed as an indefinite appellation for the modern Mongolia and Tartary. The settlements assigned to the Scythians proper by Herodotus, extend from the Danube to the Tanais, or Don, around which several other tribes had their residence. The boundaries are on the south, the coast of the Black Sea, from the mouth of the Danube to the Palus Mæotis; on the east, the Persian Gulf and the Don or Tanais, to its rise out of the lake Ivan; on the north, a

line drawn from this lake to that out of which the Tyrus (or Danaster) flows, lastly the western boundary was a line from thence to the Danube. Thus the figure of Scythia is that of an irregular oblong, which Herodotus ascribes to it."

66. (Thesea...fide.)

The friendship of Theseus and Pirithous like that of Orestes and Pylades, (see p. 256,) was proverbial. Compare Hor. C. IV. vii. 27.

Nec Lethæa valet Theseus abrumpere caro
Vincula Pirithoo.

With regard to Pirithous and his punishment in the infernal regions, See Hor. C. III. iv. 80. Virgil Æ. VI. 601 and 617. Also Hom. Odyss. XI. 650. Apollod. II. 5, 12, and note of Heyne.

75. 76. It will be seen from the various 'readings that the best MSS. agree in presenting this couplet under the form given in the As it stands it is perfectly unintelligible.

text.

Three MSS. have Mettius instead of Priamus, seven others have equos, taking these for his guides, Heinsius thus remodelled the lines,

Sic doluit Mettus, tunc cum in contraria versos
Ultores habuit proditionis equos.

according to which emendation Ovid will here allude to the punishment inflicted by Tullus Hostilius on Mettius Fufetius, Dictator of Alba, on account of his treachery towards the Romans in a battle with the Fidenates, as recorded by Livy. I. 27, 28. After the enemy had been routed,

Tum Tullus, "Metti Fufeti" inquit "si ipse discere posses fidem ac fœdera servare, vivo tibi ea disciplina a me adhibita esset. nunc quoniam tuum insanabile ingenium est, at tu tuo supplicio doce humanum genus ea sancta credere quæ a te violata sunt. ut igitur paullo ante animum inter Fidenatem Romanamque rem ancipitem gessisti, ita iam corpus passim distrahendum dabis.” Exinde duabus admotis quadrigis, in currus earum distentum illigat Mettium; deinde in diversum iter equi concitati, lacerum in utroque curru corpus, qua inhæserant vinculis membra, portantes. avertere omnes a tanta fœditate spectaculi oculos. primum ultimumque illud supplicium apud Romanos exempli parum memoris legum humanarum fuit. in aliis gloriare licet nulli gentium mitiores placuisse poenas.

86. (Pietas,) "dutiful affection." This word signifies properly

1 Heeren's Historical Remarks, Vol. 11. p. 253. English Transl.

reverence and affection entertained towards a superior. Hence the epithet pius so frequently bestowed upon Eneas, in consequence of his devotion to his father. Here it denotes the love and duty of a wife to her husband.

88. (Dedit...manus.) “Submitted,” a figurative expression taken from captives, who in token of submission, held out their hands to be fettered.

89. (Ferri.) Ferre and efferre are the technical words employed in reference to bearing forth bodies on the bier for interment.

OVID. TRISTIA. III. x.

INTRODUCTION.

THE subject of this elegy is sufficiently explained by the title.

The town to which Ovid was banished, called by himself1 and Strabo Tomis (Touis),2 by Pliny, Ptolemy, and most other writers. Tomi (Τομοὶ), was a Milesian colony, situated on the Western shores of the Pontus Euxinus about 90 miles3 South of the Sacrum Ostium, the most Southern mouth of the Ister (Danube.) The name1 gave rise to the legend that this was the spot where Medea in her flight with Jason, tore to pieces her brother Absyrtus, or, according to others, where her father Aetes collected and buried the mangled limbs of his son. 5 Thus Ov. Trist. III. ix. 1.

Hic quoque sunt igitur Graiæ, quis crederet? urbes,
Inter inhumanæ nomina barbariæ.

Huc quoque Mileto missi venere coloni

Inque Getis Graias constituere domos.

Sed vetus huic nomen, positaque antiquius urbe,
Constat ab Absyrti cæde fuisse, loco.

*

*

*

Inde Tomis dictus locus hic; quia fertur in illo
Membra soror fratris consecuisse sui.

1 E. ex. P. IV. xiv. 59. III. ix. 35. 2 But the more recent editors of Strabo following Stephan. Byzant. read Tousùs, and Touía in VII. vi. § 1. and VII. v. § 13. 3 Strabo makes the distance 750 Stadia. 4 Toμes a cutter; Toun the act of cutting; Tópos a cut; Tóμs a surgical instrument, &c. 5 Apollod. I. 9, 24.

1

The student may compare the description of a Scythian winter in Virgil G. III., especially the following lines, which are almost identical in thought, and even in expression, with many passages in the poem before us,

At non, qua Scythiæ gentes, Mæotiaque unda
Turbidus et torquens flaventes Hister arenas,
Quaque redit medium Rhodope porrecta sub axem.
Illic clausa tenent stabulis armenta; neque ullæ
Aut herbæ campo adparent, aut arbore frondes;
Sed iacet aggeribus niveis informis et alto
Terra gelu late, septemque adsurgit in ulnas.
Semper hiems, semper spirantes frigora Cauri.
Tum Sol pallentes haud umquam discutit umbras:
Nec quum invectus equis altum petit æthera; nec quum
Præcipitem Oceani rubro iavit æquore currum.
Concrescunt subitæ currenti in flumine crustæ,
Undaque iam tergo ferratos sustinet orbes,
Puppibus illa prius, patulis nunc hospita plaustris.
Æraque dissiliunt vulgo, vestesque rigescunt
Indutæ, cæduntque securibus humida vina,
Et totæ solidam in glaciem vertere lacunæ,
Stiriaque impexis induruit horrida barbis, &c. 349.

1. (Istic.) There, i. e. at Rome.

3. (Suppositum.) Ovid, deceived by the severity of the winters on the Euxine, seems never to have suspected that his new abode was but little to the North of Rome, and that the stars which remained constantly above the horizon of Tomi, were, with very few exceptions, the same as those which never set in Italy. The latitude of Rome is 41° 53′ N., while Tomi is about 43° 46′ N., being under nearly the same parallel with Florence.

5. The Sauromata (Zavgoμárai), or, as they frequently were called by the Roman writers the Sarmata, were considered by Herodotus (IV. 21.) as a race distinct from the Scythians, and occupied, in his time, the vast steppe which extends from the Tanais (Don), as far as the Rha (Wolga), on the North and East, and the Caucasus on the South. In after times Sarmatia comprehended the whole tract of country contained between the 45th and 85th meridians of E. Longitude, and stretching from the 47th parallel of N. Latitude to the confines of the known world on the North, being thus bounded on the West by the banks of the Vistula, on the East by the shores of the Mare Hyrcanum (Caspian Sea), on the South by the coasts of the Euxine and the Palus Mæotis (Sea of Azof), and divided by the Tanais into Sarmatia Europaa and Sarmatia Asiatica. In Ovid the Sauromatæ are classed along with the Geta, and other barbarian hordes, who dwelt along the northern bank of the Danube towards its mouth.

« IndietroContinua »