Sunday, January 9, 2011

Epode 7: Quo, quo scelesti ruitis?

Why, why do you wickedly rush into ruin? Or why are sheathed swords
equipped with right hands?
Has too little Latin blood been spilled
over land and sea,
unlike the Roman who burned the proud citadel
 of hateful Carthage,
or the untouched Britain who marched down
the Sacred Way in chains,
but as, in accordance with the prayers of the Parthians,
this city perished by its own right hand?
This was never the custom with wolves or lions,
unless against beasts of other species.
Did blind fury or harsher force or guilt
 ravage the city? Speak!
They are silent, and a white pallor infects their faces
and ruined minds are dumb.
Thus it is: harsher fates lead the Romans
and the crime of fratricide,
ever since the blood of innocent Remus flowed on the ground
a curse on its descendants.

Notes: I made 'its descendants' in the last line to emphasize that Romulus killed someone of his own blood, and Romulus' descendants are also stained by their own blood, i.e. a relative's blood. There's a theme of right-hands in this epode, I wonder it that's the speaker criticizing the Romans for claiming that they act righteously when their righteous actions (right hands) cause all this damage to their own city.

1 comment:

  1. Huh, goes to show you how that founding myth can be interpreted differently. In some accounts, Remus deserves to be killed, doesn't he, or he is killed by a watchman or something?

    Yeah, the 'hands' are both at the end of the lines too. Interesting.