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“O goddess-born, indubitably shines
the blessing of great gods upon thy path
across the sea; the heavenly King supreme
thy destiny ordains; 't is he unfolds
the grand vicissitude, which now pursues
a course immutable. I will declare
of thy large fate a certain bounded part;
that fearless thou may'st view the friendly sea,
and in Ausonia's haven at the last
find thee a fixed abode. Than this no more
the Sister Fates to Helenus unveil,
and Juno, Saturn's daughter, grants no more.
First, that Italia (which nigh at hand
thou deemest, and wouldst fondly enter in
by yonder neighboring bays) lies distant far
o'er trackless course and long, with interval
of far-extended lands. Thine oars must ply
the waves of Sicily; thy fleet must cleave
the large expanse of that Ausonian brine;
the waters of Avernus thou shalt see,
and that enchanted island where abides
Aeaean Circe, ere on tranquil shore
thou mayest plant thy nation. Lo! a sign
I tell thee; hide this wonder in thy heart:
Beside a certain stream's sequestered wave,
thy troubled eyes, in shadowy flex grove
that fringes on the river, shall descry
a milk-white, monstrous sow, with teeming brood
of thirty young, new littered, white like her,
all clustering at her teats, as prone she lies.
There is thy city's safe, predestined ground,
and there thy labors' end. Vex not thy heart
about those ‘tables bitten’, for kind fate
thy path will show, and Phoebus bless thy prayer.
But from these lands and yon Italian shore,
where from this sea of ours the tide sweeps in,
escape and flee, for all its cities hold
pernicious Greeks, thy foes: the Locri there
have builded walls; the wide Sallentine fields
are filled with soldiers of Idomeneus;
there Meliboean Philoctetes' town,
petilia, towers above its little wall.
Yea, even when thy fleet has crossed the main,
and from new altars built along the shore
thy vows to Heaven are paid, throw o'er thy head
a purple mantle, veiling well thy brows,
lest, while the sacrificial fire ascends
in offering to the gods, thine eye behold
some face of foe, and every omen fail.
Let all thy people keep this custom due,
and thou thyself be faithful; let thy seed
forever thus th' immaculate rite maintain.
After departing hence, thou shalt be blown
toward Sicily, and strait Pelorus' bounds
will open wide. Then take the leftward way:
those leftward waters in long circuit sweep,
far from that billowy coast, the opposing side.
These regions, so they tell, in ages gone
by huge and violent convulsion riven
(Such mutability is wrought by time),
sprang wide asunder; where the doubled strand
sole and continuous lay, the sea's vast power
burst in between, and bade its waves divide
Hesperia's bosom from fair Sicily,
while with a straitened firth it interflowed
their fields and cities sundered shore from shore.
The right side Scylla keeps; the left is given
to pitiless Charybdis, who draws down
to the wild whirling of her steep abyss
the monster waves, and ever and anon
flings them at heaven, to lash the tranquil stars.
But Scylla, prisoned in her eyeless cave,
thrusts forth her face, and pulls upon the rocks
ship after ship; the parts that first be seen
are human; a fair-breasted virgin she,
down to the womb; but all that lurks below
is a huge-membered fish, where strangely join
the flukes of dolphins and the paunch of wolves.

Better by far to round the distant goal
of the Trinacrian headlands, veering wide
from thy true course, than ever thou shouldst see
that shapeless Scylla in her vaulted cave,
where grim rocks echo her dark sea-dogs' roar.
Yea, more, if aught of prescience be bestowed
on Helenus, if trusted prophet he,
and Phoebus to his heart true voice have given,
o goddess-born, one counsel chief of all
I tell thee oft, and urge it o'er and o'er.
To Juno's godhead lift thy Ioudest prayer;
to Juno chant a fervent votive song,
and with obedient offering persuade
that potent Queen. So shalt thou, triumphing,
to Italy be sped, and leave behind
Trinacria.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 10.490
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