non sibi sed toti

Classics Teaching Resources

Mosella by Ausonius


The Journey ; The Hymn ; Looking into the depths ; The Fishes ; The Vineyards ; The gods ; Reflections in the River ; Boatmen at Play ; The Anglers ; Riverside Villas ; Some of the Villas Described ; Tributaries of the Moselle ; A Salutation ; One day Ausonius will write of eminent Belgians ; The Moselle flows into the Rhine ; Ausonius on himself ; There is so much more to sing ; All other rivers will bow to the Moselle

10. Riverside Villas

Such things are seen by villas high against the blue, Clinging to rocks above, a long procession of roofs, Divided by the winding river's sinuous curves, While palaces adorn either bank.
(Do you admire the Sea of Sestos, the Strait of Helle, Daughter of Nephele, where the youth of Abydos died? Do you admire that sea, bridged from Chalcedon's shore, A king's great work, where the channel prevents The continents of Europe and Asia from meeting?) Here are no dreadful storms, no savage battles With the wild nor-wester. Here you can communicate And weave words freely, one to another. Each charming shore hears healing voices from the other - Hears voices, nearly touches hands. On either side Echo brings rebounding words that meet midstream.
The rebuilt villa at Mehring Who can unravel the countless styles and fashions, And explain the builder's plan of every farmhouse? Even the flying craftsman from Gortys would admire such work, Daedalus, who built the Euboean temple, Whose father-grief stopped him when he tried To form in gold the fall of Icarus his son. Likewise from Athens, Cecrops' city, Philo would admire it, And Archimedes in Syracuse praised even by his foes, Who used his famous skill to aid his city in war. Perhaps the builders of the Seven Wonders too, Celebrated in the Tenth Book of Marcus, Exercised here their outstanding workmanship. Perhaps here the famed skills of Menecrates Flourished, and the artist's hand seen in Ephesus, And Ictinus, architect of the temple of Athene, Whose owl, painted with magic dye, Lures birds of all kinds, and slays them with a glance. Perhaps here Dinochares will have come, Who built a palace for the Ptolemies Whose four-sided cone rises to a point, And, pyamid-shaped, eats its own shadows. He once, bidden by the demands of illicit love, Hung free in air Arsinoe's picture in Pharoah's temple; For a pale achates breathes with the tortoise of the roof And drags the girl blown with iron-bound hair. These men, or men like these, therefore, one may believe, In Belgian lands placed this backcloth of homes, And strove to deck the river with lofty villas.
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