Quocumque Aspicio Nihil Est Ovid

Ovid describes a storm he experienced on his way to Tomis, where he would spend the final ten years of his life in exile.

Me miserum, quanti montes volvuntur aquarum!

iam iam tacturos sidera summa putes. 20

quantae diducto subsidunt aequore valles!

iam iam facturas Tartara nigra putes, quocumque aspicio, nihil est, nisi pontus et aer, fluctibus hie tumidus, nubibus ille minax. inter utrumque fremunt immani murmure venti; 25 nescit, cui domino pareat, unda maris;

text P. Ovidii Nasonis Tristia, ed.J. B. Hall (Bibliotheca Teubneriana, 1995)

meter elegiac couplet [§m2]

më mïsë|rûm quàn|tï || môn|tës vól|vüntür â|quàrum iàm iâm | tâctû|rôs || sïdërà | summâ pù|tës

This poem was no doubt written after the storm, but for vividness Ovid uses the present tense, which can be retained in English.

19 Më miserum acc. of exclamation [§gi4] Unhappy me!, trans. Woe is me!; quant! (and quantae in 1.21) introduces an exclamation, what great... !; volvuntur pass, used in an intr. sense, roll, trans, surge up.

20 iam iam lit,, already, already, i.e., on the point of; with tactùrôs (fut. pple. of tango -ere) supply esse, which is part of the acc.+inf. [§gio] after pûtes (potential subj. [§g68]), lit., you would think [them (i.e., montës ... aquàrum)] already, already to be going to touch the highest stars (sldus slderis n.), i.e., you would think that they were on the point of touching

2if. The third and fourth lines are parallel to the first two; dîductô ... aequore abl. absolute [§g49], lit., the sea (aequor aequoris n.) having been parted (dïdûcô -ere); subsidô -ere sink down; vallis vallis f. valley; Tartara -ôrum n.pl. the lowest part of the Underworld (in English, Tartarus); niger black.

23 quôcumque wherever; aspicio -ere look; pontus -I m. sea; àër (two syllables) àeris m. here sky.

24 fluctibus abl. of respect [§g46] with tumidus, swelling with waves (fluctus -üs m.); hic ... ille ... the former ... the latter ...; nübibus instrumental abl, [§g47] with minax ((minâcis) adj.), threatening with clouds (nûbës nübis F.).

25 (remó -ere roar; immânï murmure abl. of manner [§g45] with a terrible rumble (murmur murmuris n.).

26 nescit governs the indirect question [§g 91] cui domino pâreat (which master it should obey (pâreô -ère + dat.))—as explained in the following lines, the competing masters are the different winds.

nam modo purpureo vires capit Eurus ab ortu, nunc Zephyrus sero vespere missus adest, nunc gelidus sicca Boreas bacchatur ab Arcto, nunc Notus adversa proelia fronte gerit. 30

rector in incerto est nec quid fugiatve petatve invenit: ambiguis ars stupet ipsa malis. scilicet occidimus, nec spes nisi vana salutis, dumque loquor, vultus obruit unda meos. opprimet hanc animam fluctus, frustraque precanti 35 ore necaturas accipiemus aquas.

27 modo adv. now; purpureo ... ab ortu from the purple east (ortus -us m.); Eurus -i m. the east wind; vires cap it gathers (lit., takes) strength.

28 Zephyrus (Zephyrus -I m. the west wind) is here (lit., is present; adsum), sent from the late evening (abl. of separation [§G4o]; vesper (no gen.) m.).

29 Take gelidus (cold) with Boreas (-ae m. the north wind; the name is Greek, hence the odd nom. sg.); sicca ... ab Arcto from the dry [constellation of the] Bear (Arctus -I f.)—the constellation of the Bear is above the North Pole and so symbolized north; poets called it dry because it never sets, whereas other constellations, which do set, were believed to dip themselves into the waters of Oceanus (see note to Seneca Troades 383, page 169); bacchor -ari rage.

30 Notus -I m. the south wind; adversa ... fronte abl. of manner [§g 45] with an opposingfront (frons frontis f.)—the phrase indicates a head-on attack.

3if. rector rectoris m. helmsman; in incerto in doubt, i.e., uncertain what to do; nec ... invenit and is at a loss to know; quid fugiatve petatve (... -ve ... -ve either ... or .,.) indirect questions [§G9i] governed by invenit; peto -ere here head for; ambiguis ... malis abl. of cause [§g 48] because of conflicting perils; ars artis f. here skill; stuped ,-ere be powerless—the helmsman, despite his skill, cannot take action to counter one difficulty of navigation because to do so would aggravate another.

33 scilicet occidimus of course, we are doomed (occido -ere lit., die)—the plural here and in 1. 36 indicates all those on board; with spes ... salutis supply est; vanus vain.

34 dumque = dum + que; vultus ... meos pi. for sg. [§g 53] my face; obruit (ob-ruo -ere) lit., covers, trans, floods over.

35f. opprimo -ere (tr.) overwhelm (in the sense of submerge); hanc animam lit., this life, i.e., Ovid himself; frustraque precanti ore instrumental abl. [§G47] and with vainly praying (precor -ari) mouth (sg. for pi. [§g 53])—in such circumstances, it was advisable to pray to the gods of the sea; necaturas ... aquas lit., waters going to kill (need -are) [us], trans, the waters that will kill [us]; accipio -ere admit, i.e., drink in.

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