Statius, Silvae 4.2 lines 1-45

translation by Lillie Izo


He praises the royal banquets of Sidonian Elissa,

he who carried great Aeneas into the Laurentine fields;

and he showcases the meals of Alcinous with enduring song,

he who wore out Ulysses, led back by means of much sea travel:

(5) But I, to whom Caesar for the first time gave the new delights of sacred dinner

and permission to rise up to the imperial table,

with what lyre may I celebrate my granted wishes, how

may I sufficiently loosen gratitude? I would not speak

worthily, if both Smyrna and Mantua should each tie

(10) fragrant laurel leaves on the happy crown of my head. I seem to reclin

In the middle of stars with Jupiter, and to take immortal wine

extended by a Trojan right hand. We have crossedcross over barren years:

This is the first day of all time for me, here are the thresholds of life.

As I lie down, do I see you clearly, ruler of lands and great parent

(15) of a conquered world, you, hope of humankind, you, concern of the gods?

Is this nearly granted,  is it granted to gaze upon your face

amidst wine and tables, rather isn’t it divine law to rise up?

The august roof, huge, not outstanding with a hundred columns,

but with as many columns that can hold up the high ones and the sky

(20) with Atlas sent away. The neighboring palace of The Thunderer

is astonished at this, and gods rejoice that you are placed

on an equal seat. You should not hasten to exceed the great sky:

So great a massive structure stretches out, the attack of the sprawling hall

stretches out freer than a field, embracing much

(25) of a covered ether, and less than only its master; Domitian himself fills up

The household gods and supports itthem with remarkable spirit. In there

the Libyan and Trojan mountains shine in rivalry, both dark Syene

and Chian stone and rocks competing even against the bluish-grays of Doris;

and Luna marble sufficient only for carrying columns.

(30) High above is the ceiling’s appearance: you would scarcely glimpse the top

with your weary eyes and would think it to be the panelled ceiling of gilded heaven.

Here, when Caesar ordered the nobles of Romulus and a thousand trabea-wearing men

arranged in an army of columns to recline together at the tables,

Ceres herself, with the fold in her robe well girded, and Bacchus work

(35) to provide. Thus the favorable byway of aetherial Triptolemos flowed,

Thus under a vine-bearing bough Lyaeus shaded bare hills and sober farmlands.

But my desire does not have time for the banquets and the Moorish oaks

resting on ivory columns and the servile squadrons according to rank,  

rather for him, the time to see the man himself, calm in countenance, 40

but soothing the rays of my sight  

with his serene majesty and modestly lowering standards

of his own fortune; nevertheless a concealed esteem

shone in his face. A man such like him that, when seen, even a barbarian foreigner

(45) and any strange nation may be able to recognize him.