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Robert Farrell

To Dionysus

Turning to Dionysus, of Semele, most honored with crowns, the son,
I will call to mind how he appeared out beyond the shore of the barren sea
on unyielding rocks like a young man in his first wonder.
Beautiful it floated around him, his hair, color of the swallow,
and a cloth around his shoulders strong he wore, the color of the churning sea,
when swiftly, men, from a well-decked ship, pirates, Tyrsenians were borne forth
cutting over waters, the color of wine. But an ugly fate led them there.
Seeing him they nodded to one another and swiftly pounced. And forthwith
grasping him they sat him on their boat having rejoiced at heart.
For a son, he appeared to them to be, of God nourished kings
and they chose to tie him up with painful fetters.
But the fetters wouldn’t hold him, and the withes
fell away far from his hands and feet. And he sat there with a smile
in his blue-black eyes. But the helmsman heeded mindfully
at once and called out to his companions and shouted:
Good sirs, what God is this we’ve tried to grasp and bind,
this one who is the stronger? Not even our well-wrought ship
can bear him. For either Zeus this is, or silver-bowed Apollo,
or Poseidon. For he doesn’t look like mortals whose blood runs out when cut,
but like the Gods, who have their homes on Olympus.
Let us be led otherwise and release him on the dark shore
at once. Don’t lay your hands on him or anger him
lest he call forth painful winds and mighty storms.
So he spoke. But the captain attacked him with a hateful speech:
Good sir, regard the fair winds and at once hoist the ship’s sail;
grab all your gear. As for this one, we men will take care of him.
I reckon he’s either on his way to Egypt or Cyprus
or to the Hyboraeans or a further land. By and by
we’ll learn at some point about his friends and all his wealth
and those who are his kin, for a divine power has tossed him to us.
So speaking, he raised the ship’s mast and sail.
And the wind breathed into the main and straightway
they drew the cables round tight. But quickly around them
there appeared wondrous works. First wine, fragrant and sweet to taste,
flowed up through the dark, nimble ship, and a redolence of ambrosia
arose. And when the sailors all saw this, they were seized with astonishment.
And immediately around the top of the sail a grapevine stretched out, now here,
now there, from which a multitude of grapes hung down and, encircling the mast,
dark ivy danced around, blossoming with flowers and bursting
with pleasing fruit. And all the oar pins were next fixed with olive crowns.
And seeing these things, the sailors then, though not before, called out
to the helmsman to draw near to land, when suddenly the stranger
turned into a lion, frightening to look at, on the bow of the ship,
and the lion shook the boat greatly. Then, at midship,
he fashioned a shaggy-necked bear, which stood up roaring,
for he was shining forth signs. When the men saw this terrific thing
they went from below to the upper deck at the front of the ship; then to the stern
they were put to flight where astounded they gathered
around the helmsman because he possessed an attunement
directed toward that which saves. And suddenly the lion
sprang upon the captain and snatched him up and the men, fleeing
such an evil fate, leapt overboard to a person, once they saw this,
into the divine sea and became dolphins. But the God, taking pity
on the helmsman, held him back and made him thoroughly blessed
and said to him: “Take courage, good man: you’re in accord with my attunement.
I am thundering Dionysus whom my mother Semele, daughter of Cadmus,
gave birth to after Zeus and she made love.”
Take pleasure in this, kind-eyed child of Semele.
For he who forgets you can in no way order sweet song.
Εἲς Διώνυσον

ἀμφὶ Διώνυσον, Σεμέλης ἐρικυδέος υἱόν,
μνήσομαι, ὡς ἐφάνη παρὰ θῖν᾽ ἁλὸς ἀτρυγέτοιο
ἀκτῇ ἔπι προβλῆτι νεηνίῃ ἀνδρὶ ἐοικώς,
πρωθήβῃ: καλαὶ δὲ περισσείοντο ἔθειραι,
κυάνεαι, φᾶρος δὲ περὶ στιβαροῖς ἔχεν ὤμοις
πορφύρεον: τάχα δ᾽ ἄνδρες ἐυσσέλμου ἀπὸ νηὸς
ληισταὶ προγένοντο θοῶς ἐπὶ οἴνοπα πόντον,
Τυρσηνοί: τοὺς δ᾽ ἦγε κακὸς μόρος: οἳ δὲ ἰδόντες
νεῦσαν ἐς ἀλλήλους, τάχα δ᾽ ἔκθορον. αἶψα δ᾽ ἑλόντες
εἷσαν ἐπὶ σφετέρης νηὸς κεχαρημένοι ἦτορ.
υἱὸν γάρ μιν ἔφαντο διοτρεφέων βασιλήων
εἶναι καὶ δεσμοῖς ἔθελον δεῖν ἀργαλέοισι.
τὸν δ᾽ οὐκ ἴσχανε δεσμά, λύγοι δ᾽ ἀπὸ τηλόσε πῖπτον
χειρῶν ἠδὲ ποδῶν: ὃ δὲ μειδιάων ἐκάθητο
ὄμμασι κυανέοισι: κυβερνήτης δὲ νοήσας
αὐτίκα οἷς ἑτάροισιν ἐκέκλετο φώνησέν τε:
δαιμόνιοι, τίνα τόνδε θεὸν δεσμεύεθ᾽ ἑλόντες,
καρτερόν; οὐδὲ φέρειν δύναταί μιν νηῦς εὐεργής.
ἢ γὰρ Ζεὺς ὅδε γ᾽ ἐστὶν ἢ ἀργυρότοξος Ἀπόλλων
ἠὲ Ποσειδάων: ἐπεὶ οὐ θνητοῖσι βροτοῖσιν
εἴκελος, ἀλλὰ θεοῖς, οἳ Ὀλύμπια δώματ᾽ ἔχουσιν.
ἀλλ᾽ ἄγετ᾽, αὐτὸν ἀφῶμεν ἐπ᾽ ἠπείροιο μελαίνης
αὐτίκα: μηδ᾽ ἐπὶ χεῖρας ἰάλλετε, μή τι χολωθεὶς
ὄρσῃ ἔπ᾽ ἀργαλέους τ᾽ ἀνέμους καὶ λαίλαπα πολλήν.
Ὣς φάτο: τὸν δ᾽ ἀρχὸς στυγερῷ ἠνίπαπε μύθῳ:
δαιμόνι᾽, οὖρον ὅρα, ἅμα δ᾽ ἱστίον ἕλκεο νηὸς
σύμπανθ᾽ ὅπλα λαβών: ὅδε δ᾽ αὖτ᾽ ἄνδρεσσι μελήσει.
ἔλπομαι, ἢ Αἴγυπτον ἀφίξεται ἢ ὅ γε Κύπρον
ἢ ἐς Ὑπερβορέους ἢ ἑκαστέρω: ἐς δὲ τελευτὴν
ἔκ ποτ᾽ ἐρεῖ αὐτοῦ τε φίλους καὶ κτήματα πάντα
οὕς τε κασιγνήτους, ἐπεὶ ἡμῖν ἔμβαλε δαίμων.
ὣς εἰπὼν ἱστόν τε καὶ ἱστίον ἕλκετο νηός.
ἔμπνευσεν δ᾽ ἄνεμος μέσον ἱστίον: ἀμφὶ δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ὅπλα
καττάνυσαν: τάχα δέ σφιν ἐφαίνετο θαυματὰ ἔργα.
οἶνος μὲν πρώτιστα θοὴν ἀνὰ νῆα μέλαιναν
ἡδύποτος κελάρυζ᾽ εὐώδης, ὤρνυτο δ᾽ ὀδμὴ
ἀμβροσίη: ναύτας δὲ τάφος λάβε πάντας ἰδόντας.
αὐτίκα δ᾽ ἀκρότατον παρὰ ἱστίον ἐξετανύσθη
ἄμπελος ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα, κατεκρημνῶντο δὲ πολλοὶ
βότρυες: ἀμφ᾽ ἱστὸν δὲ μέλας εἱλίσσετο κισσός,
ἄνθεσι τηλεθάων, χαρίεις δ᾽ ἐπὶ καρπὸς ὀρώρει:
πάντες δὲ σκαλμοὶ στεφάνους ἔχον: οἳ δὲ ἰδόντες,
νῆ᾽ ἤδη τότ᾽ ἔπειτα κυβερνήτην ἐκέλευον
γῇ πελάαν: ὃ δ᾽ ἄρα σφι λέων γένετ᾽ ἔνδοθι νηὸς
δεινὸς ἐπ᾽ ἀκροτάτης, μέγα δ᾽ ἔβραχεν, ἐν δ᾽ ἄρα μέσσῃ
ἄρκτον ἐποίησεν λασιαύχενα, σήματα φαίνων:
ἂν δ᾽ ἔστη μεμαυῖα: λέων δ᾽ ἐπὶ σέλματος ἄκρου
δεινὸν ὑπόδρα ἰδών: οἳ δ᾽ ἐς πρύμνην ἐφόβηθεν,
ἀμφὶ κυβερνήτην δὲ σαόφρονα θυμὸν ἔχοντα
ἔσταν ἄρ᾽ ἐκπληγέντες: ὃ δ᾽ ἐξαπίνης ἐπορούσας
ἀρχὸν ἕλ᾽, οἳ δὲ θύραζε κακὸν μόρον ἐξαλύοντες
πάντες ὁμῶς πήδησαν, ἐπεὶ ἴδον, εἰς ἅλα δῖαν,
δελφῖνες δ᾽ ἐγένοντο: κυβερνήτην δ᾽ ἐλεήσας
ἔσχεθε καί μιν ἔθηκε πανόλβιον εἶπέ τε μῦθον:
θάρσει, †δῖε κάτωρ†, τῷ ἐμῷ κεχαρισμένε θυμῷ:
εἰμὶ δ᾽ ἐγὼ Διόνυσος ἐρίβρομος, ὃν τέκε μήτηρ
Καδμηὶς Σεμέλη Διὸς ἐν φιλότητι μιγεῖσα.
χαῖρε, τέκος Σεμέλης εὐώπιδος: οὐδέ πη ἔστι
σεῖό γε ληθόμενον γλυκερὴν κοσμῆσαι ἀοιδήν.