aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Dionysius Periegetes, Guide to the inhabited world, 1-9

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If Wikipedia is to be believed, this poem was last translated into English in 1789. Here’s the opening.

ἀρχόμενος γαῖάν τε καὶ εὐρέα πόντον ἀείδειν
καὶ ποταμοὺς πόλιάς τε καὶ ἀνδρῶν ἄκριτα φῦλα,
μνήσομαι Ὠκεανοῖο βαθυρρόου· ἐν γὰρ ἐκείνῳ
πᾶσα χθὼν, ἅτε νῆσος ἀπείριτος, ἐστεφάνωται,
οὐ μὲν πᾶσα διαπρὸ περίδρομος, ἀλλὰ διαμφὶς
ὀξυτέρη βεβαυῖα πρὸς ἠελίοιο κελεύθους,
σφενδόνη εἰοικυῖα· μίαν δέ ἑ καίπερ ἐοῦσαν
ἄνθρωποι τρισσῇσιν ἐπ’ ἠπείροισι δάσαντο·
πρώτην μὲν Λιβύην, μετὰ δ’ Εὐρῶπην Ἀσίην τε.

As I begin to sing of the earth and the wide sea, of rivers and cities and the uncountable races of men, I shall remember the deep-flowing Ocean. For within it the whole earth is encircled, like an immense island, not totally circular, but being more pointed in both directions towards the ways of the sun, like a sling. And although it is one, humans have divided it among themselves into three continents: first Libya, then Europe and Asia.

Written by aleatorclassicus

August 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM

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