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From Specimens of the Poets and Poetry of Greece and Rome by Various Translators, edited by William Peter, A. M. of Christ-church, Oxford; Philadelphia: Carey and Hart; 1847; pp. 515-516.



[From about the middle, to the end of the first century.]

PUBLIUS PAPINIUS STATIUS was the son of Papinius Statius (a writer of some eminence on his day,) and born at Naples. He became so popular as a poet, or rather as a rehearser, that all Rome, according to Juvenal, would flock to hear him.

When Statius fix’d a morning to recite,
His Thebaid to the town, with what delight
They flock’d to hear: with what fond rapture hung
On the sweet strains, made sweeter by his tongue!


Besides the Thebaid, (in the composition and revision of which he is said to have spent twelve years,) Statius composed several minor pieces, under the title of Silvæ, and left a fragment at his death, entitled the Achilleid.

For a more thorough work on Statius and his life, on this site, see the Introduction by Slater to the Silvae of Statius, and two more verse translations of the ode To Sleep given below. Slater also gives a prose translation of the same poem HERE.



Book VI.

Translated by Thomas Gray

THIRD in the labours of the disc came on,
With sturdy step and slow, Hippomedon;
Arful and strong, he pois’d the well known weight,
By Phlegyas warn’d, and fir’d by Mnestheus’ fate,
That to avoid, and this to emulate.
His vigorous arm he tired before he flung,
Brac’d all his nerves, and every sinew strung;
Then, wit a tempest’s whirl, and wary eye,
Pursued his cast, and hurl’d the orb on high:
The orb on high, tenacious of its course,
True to the mighty arm that gave it force,
Far overleaps all bound, and joys to see
Its ancient lord secure of victory.
The theatre’s green height and woody wall
Tremble, ere it precipitates its fall;
The ponderous mass sinks in the cleaving ground,
Wile vales, and woods, and echoing hills rebound,
As when from Ætna’s smoking summit broke,
The eyeless Cyclops heav’d the craggy rock;
Where Ocean frets beneath the clashing oar,
And parting surges round the vessel roar;
’Twas there he aim’d the meditated harm,
And scarce Ulysses scap’d his giant arm.
A tiger’s pride the victor bore away,
With native spots and artful labour gay;
A shining border round the margin roll’d,
And calm’d the terrors of his claws in gold.



Translated by Hodgson

HOW have I wrong’d thee, Sleep, thou gentlest power
Of heaven! that I alone, at night’s dread hour,
516 Still from thy soft embraces am repress’d,
Nor drink oblivion on thy balmy breast?
Now every field and every flock is thine,
And seeming slumbers bend the mountain pine;
Hush’d is the tempest’s how, the torrent’s road,
And the smooth wave lies pillow’d on the shore.
Seven times the moon returns; yet pale and weak
Distemper sits upon my faded cheek;
The emerging stars, from Ætna’s mount that rise,
And Venus’ fires have re-illumed the skies;
Still, past my plaints, Aurora’s chariot flew;
Her shaken lash dropp’d cold the pitying dew.
Can I endure? not if to me were given
The eyes of Argus, sentinel of heaven;
Those thousand eyes, that watch alternate kept,
Nor all o’er his body waked or slept.
Ah me! yet now, beneath night’s lengthening shade.
Some youth’s twin’d arms enfold the twining maid;
Willing he wakes, while midnight hours roll on,
And scorns thee, Sleep! and waves thee to be gone.
Come, then, from them! oh leave their bed for mine;
I bid thee not with all thy plumes incline
On my bow’d lids; this kindest boon beseems
The happy crowd, that share thy softest dreams;
Let thy wand’s tip but touch my closing eye,
Or, lightly hovering, skim, and pass me by.


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