Thursday, 23 November 2017

Ovid: iron bulls tamed.

When Jason wanted to obtain the Golden Fleece, he had to perform various deeds, including taming two iron bulls, made by Vulcan. Medea provided him with magical herbs for protection and taming the bulls. At this time she was still deeply in love with Jason.    

Ovidius, Metamorphoses VII, 104-119

ecce adamanteis Vulcanum naribus efflant
aeripedes tauri, tactaeque vaporibus herbae               105
ardent, utque solent pleni resonare camini,
aut ubi terrena silices fornace soluti
concipiunt ignem liquidarum adspergine aquarum,
pectora sic intus clausas volventia flammas
gutturaque usta sonant; tamen illis Aesone natus               110
obvius it. vertere truces venientis ad ora
terribiles vultus praefixaque cornua ferro
pulvereumque solum pede pulsavere bisulco
fumificisque locum mugitibus inpleverunt.
deriguere metu Minyae; subit ille nec ignes               115
sentit anhelatos (tantum medicamina possunt!)
pendulaque audaci mulcet palearia dextra
suppositosque iugo pondus grave cogit aratri
ducere et insuetum ferro proscindere campum:

adamanteus: made of iron
Volcanum = ignem
naris –is (f.): nostril
aeripes –edis: with feet of bronze
vaporibus: by the steam (coming from the noses)
caminus: furnace
ubi terrena silices fornace soluti concipiunt ignem liquidarum adspergine aquarum = aut (ut) silices (resonare solent)), ubi (in) terrena fornace soluti  liquidarum adspergine ignem concipiunt: or lime in an earthen furnace slaked by sprinkling of water catch heat. (What is described here is the making of slaked lime in a stone furnace. It is made by heating lime and cooling it with water. Of course the lime doesn’t catch fire, but is produces an enormous amount of steam.)
intus clausas volventia flammas: inside turning around the enclosed flames
guttur –is (n.): throat
uro ussi ustum: to burn
Aesone natus: Jason
obvius eo (+ dat.): to go towards
vertere = verterunt
trux trucis: grim, fierce (i.e. the bulls)
venientis ad ora: towards the face of the approaching man
praefixus: set up in front
ferro: descriptive ablative `made of iron’
pulvereus: filled with dust
pulso: to strike upon (pulsavere = pulsaverunt)
bisulcus: forked, cloven
fumificus: smoking, steaming
mugitus –us (m.): bellowing
derigesco derigui: to become stiff
Minyae: the Argonauts
subeo: to go up to
anhelo: to breathe
medicamen –minis (n.): magical herb
pendula palearia: down-hanging dewlaps
mulceo mulsi mulsum: to touch gently
audaci dextra (manu)
suppono –pusui –positum (+ dat.); to put under
iugum: yoke
aratrum: plough
insuetum ferro campum: the field unused to the plough (ferro = aratro)
proscindo (-ere): to plough

Translation by Brookes More (1922)

Huge brazen-footed bulls were breathing forth
from adamantine nostrils living flames,
blasting the verdant herbage in their path!
As forges glowing with hot flames resound,
or as much quick-lime, burnt in earthen kilns,
crackles and hisses as if mad with rage,
sprinkled with water, liberating heat;
so their hot throats and triple-heated sides,
resounding told of pent-up fires within.
The son of Aeson went to meet them. As
he came to meet them the fierce animals
turned on him faces terrible, and sharp
horns tipped with iron, and they pawed
the dusty earth with cloven feet, and filled
the place with fiery bellowings. The Minyans
were stark with fear; he went up to the bulls
not feeling their hot breath at all, so great
the power of his charmed drugs; and while he
was stroking their down-hanging dewlaps with
a fearless hand, he placed the yoke down on
their necks and made them draw the heavy plow,
and cut through fields that never felt the steel

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