Poem of the Week: Ennius

Ennius (239-169 BC) was an Italo-Greek and a very important and influential early Roman poet. None of his works, tragedies, comedies, minor works, or his famous epic The Annals survives intact. All we have are fragmentary quotations (like our friend Archilochus). Here’s one, about the dream the mother of Romulus and Remus, Ilia (usually Rhea Silvia), had when Mars impregnated her:

And quickly, with trembling limb,s the old woman brought a lamp.
Then, weeping, she [Ilia] recalled so many things, frightened from sleep:
“Daughter of Eurydica whom our father loved,
strength and life now abandon my entire body.
For a handsome man appeared to me amongst beautiful willow groves
and took me to the riverbanks and strange places. So afterwards,
alone, true sister, I seemed to wander
and to search slowly and to seek you, nor could I
reach your heart: no path made my foot firm.
Then Father seemed to address with his voice in these
words: ‘O daughter, toils are to be preformed by you before,
after fortune stands from the river.’
Father spoke these things, true one, and suddenly withdrew
nor did the man, beloved in my heart, give himself to view,
although, weeping, I was extending my hands to the blue temples
of the sky and calling with a coaxing voice.
So the dream left me with my sad heart.”


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