ElAnt v3n4 - TRANSLATION - Christian Sapphics: A Version of Prudentius, Cath. 8 (hymnus post ieiunium)

Volume 3, Number 4
April 1996


Robert J. Baker,
Department of Classics & Ancient History,
University of New England,
NSW 2351,
e-mail: rbaker@metz.une.edu.au

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 
Greater by example, your servants mildly
	Taught do you handle.

Now the ninth hour turns sun to coursing 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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-
Driven off, he takes sheep upon his shoulders,
Bringing it when cleaned back to sunshine, and 
	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 
	Bay tree is shading.

For such gifts as these, tell me, faithful 
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 
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 
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 
By the food that spreads through the veins, for 
	Christians devoted.	80

Robert J. Baker,
e-mail: rbaker@metz.une.edu.au

COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright remains with authors, but due reference should be made to this journal if any part of the above is later published elsewhere.

Electronic Antiquity Vol. 3 Issue 4 - April 1996
edited by Peter Toohey and Ian Worthington
ISSN 1320-3606
by Kaavya Giridhar