CHRISTIAN SAPPHICS: A VERSION OF PRUDENTIUS, CATH. 8 (hymnus post ieiunium)
Robert J. Baker, Department of Classics & Ancient History, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia. e-mail: email@example.com Christ, the ruling guide of the ones who serve you, You who, checking us with a gentle bridle, Lightly ply the curb, and enclosed with easy Law do restrain us, Seeing you yourself, as you bore the burden 5 Of the body's weight, have endured its hardships, Greater by example, your servants mildly Taught do you handle. Now the ninth hour turns sun to coursing downwards, Scarcely six parts gone of its revolution, 10 And in down-sloped sky there is still a quarter Portion of daylight. We reclaim our meal, as our short-lived fasting's Vigil we break off; and we relish tables Richly plentiful that impart a taste to 15 Appetite eager. Such the favour of the eternal Master, Teacher well disposed does with such a friendly Urging draw us on, that a light observance Pains not our bodies 20 Adds he, too, that none should, with an unlovely Garb unsightly clad, want to scar his forehead, But his face's pride and his head's adornment Should comb — its glory. "When you fast", he said, "clean yourself all over, 25 And let not your cheeks, with their redness draining, Wear a yellow hue, nor let there be marked on Your face a paleness." Better do we hide in a joyful shyness Anything we do for the Father's worship; 30 God sees secret things, and for actions stealthy Makes recompenses. When a sickened sheep lags behind, and from the Healthy flock is lost, total wastage making Of its wool, when caught by the thorns in thickets 35 Through trackless woodland, He, the shepherd keen, calls it back and, wolf- pack Driven off, he takes sheep upon his shoulders, Bringing it when cleaned back to sunshine, and to Sheepfold restores it. 40 He restores it, too, to green field and meadow, Where there does not wave with untidy prickles Thornbush, nor is armed with its spikes the shoot of Thistle all bristling, But the grove is filled up with palms, and bending 45 Grasses have bush blade-growth, and all the year long Stream that looks like glass, with its running water, Bay tree is shading. For such gifts as these, tell me, faithful shepherd, Just what service can ever be repaid you? 50 For salvation's price lies no compensation In vows and praying. Although, spurning food far beyond the seemly, Willingly we starve and reduce the body And, disdaining meals, we to you are praying 55 Night time and day time, Always over-matched is our small attention's Zeal, and comes not up to the Father's bonus, And the frame of clay shatters under suffering's Greater observance. 60 Therefore, lest our slime fragile have its weakened Vigour drain away, and a watery whiteness In the veins' fluid dominate, while sickly Body grows feeble, Light, and also free, regimen of fasting 65 On us all is laid, nor are we severely By a fear impelled; each is urged by his own Power for willing Whatever one does, it's enough to call on Godhead's favouring nod prior to commencing, 70 Whether one refuse table, or with food be Bent on accepting God with favour does nod, and with approving Countenance consents, just as to our health will Conduce, as we hope, what we dedicate and 75 Take of these morsels. Be it good, I pray humbly, and may healing Be conferred on limbs and may soul be nourished By the food that spreads through the veins, for prayerful Christians devoted. 80
Robert J. Baker,
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Electronic Antiquity Vol. 3 Issue 4 - April 1996 edited by Peter Toohey and Ian Worthington firstname.lastname@example.org ISSN 1320-3606