Ovid, Metamorphoses VIII, 6-91

Translation of these lines to memorise for set text exam


Lines 6-10

Meanwhile Minos was laying waste to the Lelegian shores

and trying out his Martial strength on the city of Alcathous whish was ruled by Nisus, on top of whose head

there clung among the honourable white hairs a lock

of bright purple, the guarantee of his kingdom.

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Lines 11 - 16

It was the 6th day of the new moon

and the fortune of war was hanging in the balance,

for a long time winged victory hung between the both of them on undecided wings.

There was a royal tower, an addition to those speaking walls

on which Apollo is said to have placed his

Golden Lyre: the sound stuck to the stone

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Lines 17 - 22

Often the daughter of Nisus is accustomed to climb up there

and aim at the resonating rocks with small pebbles

That is when there was peace; also when there was war she was accustomed 

to stand on her turret looking at the unbending forces of war

and already by the length of the war, she knows the names of the leaders

and she knows their weapons, horses and dress and their Cretan quivers

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Lines 23 - 29

Above all others she had known the face of the Europan Commander

and more, than it is satisfactory to know: in this woman's judgement

Minos, whether he had concealed his head in a helmet

crested with feathers; or whether he had taken up his shield

glistening with bronze, it was fitting that he had taken uup his sheild

and he had twisted his unweilding spear with his arm drawn back

and the virgin praised his skill

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Lines 30 - 36

Minos had bent and spread the bow and put in an arrow,

she swore that that was how Apollo stood having taken up his arrows

but when he had removed his bronze helmet and bared his face

and in his purple he was pressing down upon the back of his white horse

gloriously with its embroidered trappings, and was controlling its foaming mouth

Scarcely her own self, scarcely possesed of her right mind was

the Niseian maid: she called his javelin happy because it was touched by him

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Lines 37 - 43

and his reins lucky because they were pressed into his hands

It was her impulse, if only it were allowed to take her maiden's

steps through the enemy line, it was her impulse 

to throw her body from the top of the towers into the Cnossian

camp or to open the bronze gates to the enemy

or anything else that Minos might wish. And as she sat down and

glazed upon the gleaming tents of the Dictean King

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Lines 44 - 50

She says 'I am in doubt whether to rejoice or grieve that the war is being

waged; I grieve because Minos is an enemy to me as a lover,

but id there had not been a war he would have me

as a companion and as a pledge of peace

If she who bore you, most handsome of kings

was such as you yourself are, the god was right to be on fire for her

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Lines 51 - 57

O I would be three times as happy if I would be able to

put my foot in the camp of the Cretan King

having slipped through the air on wings, having said who I am and my passion

and I would ask by what dowry Minos would wish that I was bought. In case Minos might even

demand my ancestral home! For may the bedroom longed for by me perish rather than

that I should be gaining wish through my betrayal! Although often the kindness of

a gentle victor makes it easy for many to be conquered

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Lines 58 - 64

As his son was killed he has certainly waged a just war:

and his cause has good reason and with his weapons he maintains that cause

And I think we should be conquered if such an outcome awakes the city,

Why does his army and my love not unbolt my

city walls? He will be able without slaughter, without delay

and without the burden of blood to win easily

Minos, certainly I shall not fear that any man foolishly

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Lines 65 - 71

wounds your heart; (for who is so hard that he may dare to

knowingly direct his pitiless spear towards you?

The plans pleased her, and her decision stands, to hand over

her country alongside herself as a dowry and put an end to war;

but to wish it is not enough. A guard watches over the entrance

and my father holds the key to the gates: I unhappy woman

fear this man alone, he alone delays my hopes

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Lines 72 - 78

Let the Gods make it that I would be without a father! For each man there is a God

indeed: the God, fortune is against cowardly talk.

Now for a long time another woman inflamed by such great

lust, rejoice, was happy to destroy whatever stood in the way of love

and why would any woman be bolder than I?

I would dare to go through fire and swords; nor however in this situation is there

a need for me to have my fathers hair.

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Lines 79 - 84

That purple hair is more precious to me than gold,

that purple will make me blest through the achievement of my hopes.

So she spoke till night, the greatest nurse of cares,

broke in upon her, and boldness grew with the darkness.

The first rest had come, when sleep holds breasts

tired from the cares of day; silently she entered her father's

bed chamber and

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