Saturday, November 19, 2022

Remembered Among the Flowers: Claudian, De Raptu Proserpinae 2.128-136

The loss of Hyacinthus and Narcissus foreshadow Persephone / Proserpina's abduction. 

pratorum spoliatur honos : haec lilia fuscis

intexit violis ; hanc mollis amaracus ornat ;

haec graditur stellata rosis, haec alba ligustris.

te quoque, flebilibus maerens Hyacinthe figuris,  

Narcissumque metunt, nunc inclita germina veris,

praestantes olim pueros : tu natus Amyclis,

hunc Helicon genuit ; disci te perculit error,

hunc fontis decepit amor ; te fronte retusa

Delius, hunc fracta Cephisus harundine luget. 

--Claudian, De Raptu Proserpinae 2.128-136 

Together, they [Proserpina and her companions]  gather the flowers, the glory of the fields:

This one weaves lilies with dark violets,

That one decorates herself with marjoram.

Another one strides onwards, crowned with roses, and another is sparkly with white flowers.

This one wears you as well, sorrowful Hyacinthus, with your mournful petals*,

They pluck Narcissus, too:

Once, long ago, you were awesome youths,

But now you are the famous companions of the spring.

You, Hyacinthus, were a son of Amyclae,

But Helicon created Narcissus.

A stray discus killed you, Hyacinthus,

But a water [nymph]’s love led you astray.

The Delian god [Apollo] wears you upon his forehead, Hyacinthus;

And Cephisus mourns your loss, Narcissus, with a broken reed [panpipe].




Name:  Claudius Claudianus

Date:  370 – 404 CE

Works: The Abduction of Proserpina

          On the Consulship of Stilicho

          Against Eutropius






 Claudian was born in Alexandria, Egypt during the 4th century CE. He is one of the best poets of the time period, and he provides a unique perspective as a non-Christian writer in Christian Rome. Many of his works are still extant, including panegyric [official praise literature] for the Roman Emperor Honorius and his general Stilicho, a poem criticizing the eunuch consul Eutropius, and an epic retelling of the abduction of Persephone.



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