Sie sind auf Seite 1von 5

OVID: Heroides I to VII

Translated by A. S. Kline 2001 All Rights Reserved This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any noncommercial purpose.


Penelope to Ulysses

Your Penelope sends you this, Ulysses, the so-longdelayed. Dont reply to me however: come yourself. Troy lies in ruins, an enemy, indeed, to the girls of Greece Priam, and all of Troy, were scarcely worth this! O I wish, at that time when he sought Sparta with his fleet, Paris, the adulterer, had been whelmed beneath angry seas! I would not have lain here, cold in an empty bed, nor be left behind, to complain, at suffering long days, nor my hand, bereft, exhaust me, working all night long to cause deception, with my doubtful web. When have I not feared dangers worse than all realities? Love is a thing full of anxious fears. I imagined the Trojans violent attacks on you: often I grew pale at Hectors name: if someone told of Antilochus defeated by Hector, Antilochus was the reason for my fears,

if of Patroclus, dying in Achilless armour, I wept that tricks might fail of success. Tlepolemus warmed the spear of Sarpedon with blood, Tlepolemuss death is then a new cause of anxiety to me. In short, whoever of the Greek camp was killed, the heart of a lover was chilled like ice. But the god, who favours pure love, truly gave protection: Troy is turned to ashes: by a hero whos unharmed. Our generals return to Greece, the altars smoke, barbarous gifts are set before the countrys gods. Wives give thanks, for the gift of living husbands: who sing in turn of their Troy conquered by fate: upright old men and trembling girls marvel, the wife hangs on her husbands words as he speaks. And one seated at table describes the fierce battle and draws all of Troy in a little wine: Here was Simois, here Sigean ground, here stood aged Priams towering palace: here Achilles camped, here Ulysses, here mangled Hector scared the galloping horses. Indeed Nestor related it all to your son Telemachus, sent to enquire about you, then he to me. And he told of Rhesus and Dolon dead by your sword, so that one was betrayed by sleep, the other by guile. It was brave, oh you, who are more and more forgetful of your own, to enter the Thracian camp, with nights deception, and kill so many men, with the help of one! Then you were truly cautious, and thinking first of me! My heart shook all the time, with fear, while my dear hero was depicted, riding through the army on Ismaruss horses.

But what benefit to me if Troys cast down, by your arms, and the walls that it possessed are razed to the ground, if I wait here, as I waited while Troy still stood, and my husband away, with no end in sight? Destroyed for others, Troy remains, for me alone, where the victor lives to plough with captive oxen: there are fields now, where Troy once was, and the earth, beneath the scythe, crops densely, rich with Phrygian blood: half-buried bones of heroes are struck by the curving plough, and grass conceals the ruined houses. The victor is absent, and I am not allowed to know, the reason for his delay, or in what land he cruelly hides. Whoever turns his wandering vessel towards this shore departs weary of being questioned by me, about you: and what hell deliver to you, if he sees you anywhere, will be letters surrendered to him, written by my hand. I sent to Pylos, to the Nelean fields of ancient Nestor: doubtful rumours returned from Pylos: and I sent to Sparta: no known truth from Sparta either. What land do you live in, or with whom do you delay so long? It would be better if Apollos walls still stood: alas Im angered myself by my thoughtless prayers! I might have known where you were fighting, and only fear the war, and my complaints would then have be joined with many others. I dont know what to fear: I fear everything, insanely,

and my anxieties are open to wide speculation. Whether the sea contains the danger, or the land, such long delays equally cause me to suspect. While I foolishly fear it, that is your wilfulness, you could be captive now to a foreign love. And perhaps you tell her, that your wifes an innocent, considered to be almost like raw wool. Let me be deceived, and let this charge vanish in thin air and let your returning sails not be wilfully absent. My father Iscarius forces me to leave my empty bed, and rebukes me for my continual, endless waiting. Its all right for him to rebuke me continually! Im yours, I should be spoken of as yours: Ill be Penelope, wife to Ulysses, always. Yet he weakens knowing my piety, and my chaste prayers, and he moderates the force of it himself. An insistent crowd of suitors comes to ruin us, from Dulichium and Samos, and those who hold high Zacynthus, and they rule in your palace, without restraint: they tear your possessions to pieces, and my heart. What should I say of how you, shamefully absent, nourish Pisander, Polybus, cruel Medon, the greedy hands of Eurymachus, and Antinous, and others: all of them, with your blood? Irus and Melanthius driving in the flocks to be slaughtered add the final insult to your ruin. The unwarlike ones are three in number: a wife with no strength, old Laertes, and Telemachus your son. He, recently, was almost taken away from me by trickery,

when he prepared to go to Pylos, against their will. I pray the gods decree that, in the natural order of things, he will close my eyes in death, and yours! The faithful guardian of the filthy sty makes up another three, along with the herdsman, and your very ancient nurse: but Laertes, has no power to hold his own among enemies, he whose weapons are useless to him. Telemachus, if only he lives, will become stronger with age: now he ought to be protected with his fathers help. I have no strength to drive these enemies from the house: you must come quickly, to your harbour and refuge! Youve a son, and I pray hell be one who, in his tender years, will be educated in his fathers arts. Consider Laertes: who keeps death back to the very last day, so that you might close his eyes. Youll find that I, in truth, a girl when you went away, though you soon return, have become an aged woman.