Ad Alpēs/XXX

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Fairytale left blue.png Caput XXIX Caput XXXI Fairytale right blue.png
CAPUT XXX

Postquam aliquamdiū tacitī prōvectī sunt, patrī Pūblius: “Ubi hanc noctem āctūrī sumus?” inquit.

“Vereor nē necesse sit aliquam in vīllam hāc nocte dēvertere,” inquit Cornēlius. “Nam in hīs regiōnibus, quō tendimus, nūlla sunt oppida magna.”

“Putavī nōs fortasse Sentīnī[1] morātūrōs,” inquit Pūblius.

“Hoc oppidum ā viā nimis longē abest,” inquit pater, “et celeritātī studeō.”

“Ecquid[2] clārum Sentīnī umquam factum est?” inquit Sextus.

“Maximē vērō,” inquit pater. “Sed dē proeliō ōlim ibi commissō fortasse Pūblius quaedam nārrāre potest.”

Quibus verbīs inductus, Pūblius haud invītus: “Abhinc annōs amplius quadringentōs,”[3] inquit, “Rōmānī ad Sentīnum ācerrimē cum Samnītibus et Gallīs pugnāvērunt.

“Cōnsul ūnus, cum Samnītibus congressus, prīmō satis habēbat[4] sē ab hostibus dēfendere, ratus sī proelium diūtius extractum esset, fore ut hostium sīc minuerētur impetus, Rōmānīs autem vīrēs paene integrae servārentur.

“Alterō autem in cornū P. Decius Mūs, quī contrā Gallōs cōnstiterat, quia lentius[5] vidēbātur pedestre[6] certāmen, equitēs vehementer in pugnam concitāvit. Quōs autem, cum in cōnfertissimōs Gallōs impetum fēcissent, novum genus pugnae perterruit. “Iam enim advēnerant hostēs recentēs, essedīs[7] carrīsque[8] superstantēs,[9] quī ingentī sonitū rotārum cōnsternābant equōs, quibus tālis tumultus īnsolitus erat. Quae rēs Rōmānīs[10] victōriam paene explōrātam in fugam vertit.

“Decius, cum frūstrā suīs cēdentibus resistere cōnātūs esset: ‘Quid[11] ultrā moror,’[12] inquit, ‘mortem fātō dēbitam? Nostrae enim gentī datum est,[13] ut dēpellendīs cīvitātis perīculīs[14] piāculō[15] sīmus. Quārē ego, ut anteā[16] pater, nunc et mē ipsum et hostium legiōnēs dīs īnferīs dabō.’[17]

“Haec locūtus, M. Līvium, pontificem, quem abīre ā sē vetuerat, praeīre[18] iussit verba, quibus sē legiōnēsque hostium prō exercitū populī Rōmānī dēvovēret. Quō rīte factō, quā cōnfertissima cernēbātur Gallōrum aciēs, eā[19] concitāvit equum, īnfestīsque tēlīs sē īnferēns statim occīsus est.”

“Heu!” inquit Cornēlia. “Quā rē fit, obsecrō, ut fortissimī et optimī omnēs[20] exitūs tam miserōs inveniant?”

“Deciō quidem,” inquit pater, “illa mors prō patriā oppetītā pulcherrima vidēbātur; et populō Rōmānō certē multum[21] prōfuit.[22] Nam mīlitibus perterritīs iam rediit animus, et eō diē victōria clāra ā nostrīs parta est.”

“Quō modō animus mīlitibus redīre potuit,” inquit Cornēlia, “cum dux ab hostibus occīsus esset?”

At pater: “Pontificī Līviō līctōrēs[23] Decius trādiderat, eumque iusserat imperium suum recipere; quī, cum cōnsulem occīsum vīdisset, statim clāmāre coepit Rōmānōs vīcisse, quod dux mortuus ad īnferōs sēcum dēvōtam hostium aciem vocāret, et iam apud Gallōs omnia terrōris plēna esse.

“Eōdem ferē tempore opportūnē subvēnērunt mīlītēs recentēs, quōs cōnsul alter, Samnītibus fugātīs, collēgae[24] auxiliō mīserat. Itaque Gallī, etsī exstructīs ante sē scūtīs[25] cōnfertī stābant, impetum Rōmānōrum sustinēre nōn potuērunt. Multī, ubi cōnstiterant, ibīdem cecidērunt, aliī ā tergō circumventī et trucīdātī sunt.”

“Haec mē admonent,” inquit Pūblius, “dē aliō facinore ēgregiō, quod ā scrīptōre Līviō memoriae trāditum est.”

“Quid factum est, obsecrō?” inquit Sextus. “Eōdemne modō posteā cīvis alius prō victōriā Rōmānōrum tēlīs hostium sē obiēcit?”

“Pater eiusdem Decī sē similiter[26] prō patriā dēvōvit,” inquit frāter; “sed aliud erat, dē quō cōgitābam:

“Ōlim Rōmae, aut mōtū terrae aut aliquā vī aliā hiātus immēnsae altitūdinis[27] subitō in forō factus est, quī congestiōne[28] terrae quamvīs adsiduā nūllō modō complērī potuit.

“Vātēs canēbant[29] id, quod optimum[30] Rōmānī habērent, eī locō dēdicandum esse, sī rem pūblicam perpetuam[31] esse vellent. Quārē diū quaesītum est quid esset illud optimum.

“Tum ferunt M. Curtium, iuvenem bellō ēgregium, cīvēs suōs castīgāsse, quod dubitārent an ūllum Rōmānīs bonum maius esset quam arma et virtūs.

“Deinde, ubi silentium factum est, templa deōrum immortālium[32] Capitōliumque intuēns,[33] et manūs nunc in caelum nunc in patentem[34] terrae hiātum porrigēns, ille sē dēvōvit; tum, equō

Quō modō rōmānī aquam in urbēs dūcēbant
Photograph by R. S. Rogers
quō modō rōmānī aquam in urbēs dūcēbant
quam poterat maximē ōrnātō īnsidēns,[35] armātus sē in hiātum immīsit.

“Dōna et frūgēs[36] super eum ā multitūdine virōrum et mulierum congesta[37] sunt; et locus ‘lacus Curtius’ appellātus est, quod ille vītam suam ibi prō perpetuitāte[38] reī pūblicae largītus[39] erat.”

“Mihi quidem,” inquit Cornēlius, “ille vir vidētur etiam tālī ēlogiō[40] dignus, quāle Simōnidēs scrīpsit in[41] Lacedaemoniōs, quī Thermopylīs[42] cecidērunt:

“‘Dīc, hospes, Spartae,[43] nōs tē hīc vīdisse iacentīs,
Dum sānctīs patriae lēgibus obsequimur.’”[44]

“Haec omnia ēgregia et maximē laudanda sunt,” inquit Cornēlia; “sed exitūs habent, quī maestitiam maximam mihi iniciant. Nōnne tū vīs, pater, aliquid iūcundius nārrāre?”

“Ita vērō,” inquit ille. “Expōnam, sī vīs, quō modō Caesar dictātor inopiam aquae sublevāverit, cum Alexandrēae[45] ab hostibus obsidērētur:

“Urbs illa est ferē tōta suffossa,[46] specūsque[47] ad flūmen Nīlum pertinentēs[48] habet, quibus aqua in prīvātās domōs indūcitur; ubi paulātim liquēscit[49] ac subsīdit.[50] Nam cum prīmō ē Nīlō īnfluit, adeō est līmōsa[51] et turbida, ut multīs variīsque morbīs eōs adficiat, quī statim bibunt.

“Aquā ex hīs specibus extractā Caesar quoque aliquamdiū ūtēbātur. Tum hostēs, ratī fore ut Rōmānī sē dēdere cōgerentur, sī aquātiōne[52] prohibitī essent, magnum et difficile opus aggressī sunt.

“Nam rotīs et māchinīs maximam vim aquae ex marī exhausērunt, quam in loca ā Caesare occupāta fundere nōn intermittēbant. Quō modō aqua, quae ē specibus ā Rōmānīs trahēbātur, in diēs[53] salsior fīēbat, adeō[54] ut postrēmō bibī omnīnō nōn posset.

“Tum nostrī ad summam dēspērātiōnem pervēnērunt; Caesar autem eōrum timōrem cohortātiōne et ratiōne minuit. Nam docuit, puteīs fossīs, aquam dulcem reperīrī posse, quia lītora omnia nātūrā[55] aquae dulcis vēnās habērent; sīn autem hōc modō aquārī nōn possent, aditum[56] ad mare patēre, et cotīdiē nāvibus sē aquam petītūrum.

“Tālī ōrātiōne cōnfirmātīs suīs, centuriōnibus negōtium dedit ut, reliquīs operibus intermissīs, ad fodiendōs puteōs animum cōnferrent. Quō susceptō negōtiō atque omnium animīs ad labōrem incitātīs, ūnā nocte inventa est magna vīs aquae dulcis, nec posteā similī inopiā labōrātum est.”[57]

“Optimē!” inquit Cornēlia. “Vellem fābulae omnēs exitūs tam iūcundōs habērent.”

Dum haec fīunt, raedae celeriter prōvehēbantur; ac vesperāscente[58] iam diē viātōrēs ad quandam vīllam hospitiō acceptī sunt.

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References
  1. Sentīnī: loc. of Sentīnum.
  2. Ecquid, pron., interrog. and indef., Did anything …?
  3. quadringentī, -ae, -a, num. adj., four hundred.
  4. satis habēbat, was satisfied.
  5. lentus, -a, -um, adj., slow; for comp., cf. note on longius, XI, 15.
  6. pedester, -tris, -tre, adj., infantry.
  7. essedum, -ī, n., chariot.
  8. carrus, -ī, m., truck.
  9. superstāns, -antis, part., erect (upon).
  10. Rōmānīs: dat. of disadvantage.
  11. Quid, Why.
  12. moror: here trans., keep waiting, put off.
  13. datum est, it has been assigned.
  14. dēpellendīs . .. perīculīs: dat. of purp.
  15. piāculum, -ī, n., sacrifice; dat. of service in text.
  16. anteā: sc. fēcit.
  17. dabō, I will doom.
  18. praeīre, dictate.
  19. quā … eā, advs., where … there.
  20. omnēs: mod. of optimī.
  21. multum, adv.
  22. prōsum, prōdesse, prōfuī, intr., profit.
  23. līctor, -ōris, m., lictor. The lictors represented his authority as commander.
  24. collēgae: dat.
  25. scūtum, ī, shield.
  26. similiter, adv., in like manner.
  27. altitūdō, -inis, f., depth.
  28. congestiō, -ōnis, f., accumulation.
  29. canēbant, predicted.
  30. id … optimum, the best thing which. Cf. XVI, 85.
  31. perpetuus, -a, -um, adj., everlasting.
  32. immortālis, -e, adj., immortal.
  33. intueor, -tuērī, -tuitus sum, tr., turn (one’s) glance on.
  34. patentem: as adj., yawning.
  35. īnsidēns, -entis, part., sitting astride.
  36. frūx, frūgis, f., fruit of the earth.
  37. congesta: neut.; ref. to things.
  38. perpetuitās, -ātis, f., continuance, immortality.
  39. largior, īrī, ītus sum, tr., sacrifice.
  40. ēlogium, -ī, n., epitaph.
  41. in, for.
  42. Thermopylīs: loc. of Thermopylae.
  43. Spartae: loc.
  44. obsequor, -sequī, -secūtus sum, intr., be obedient; trans. phrase, ‘in obedience to,’ etc.
  45. Alexandrēae: loc.
  46. suffossus, -a, -um, part., undermined.
  47. specūs: acc. pl.
  48. ad … pertinentēs: i.e., connected (by a main channel) with the river.
  49. liquēscō, liquēscere, licuī, intr., become clear.
  50. subsīdō, -sīdere, -sēdī, -sessum, intr., settle.
  51. līmōsus, -a, -um, adj., muddy.
  52. aquātiō, -ōnis, f., water-supply.
  53. in diēs, daily.
  54. adeō, so much so.
  55. nātūrā, by (a law of) nature.
  56. aditus, -ūs, m., approach.
  57. labōrātum est: impers. ; trans., ‘did they suffer.’
  58. vesperāscō, -ere, -āvī, intr., incline toward evening.
Fairytale left blue.png Caput XXIX Caput XXXI Fairytale right blue.png