NONNO DI PANOPOLI, Dionysiaca, XLV, 105-168.

Testo tratto da: Nonnos, Dionysiaca, traduzione di Rouse W. H. D., III vol., Londra 1942.

Sons of the Tyrsenians once were sailing on the sea – wandering mariners, murederers of the stranger, pirates of the rich, stealing from every side the flocks of sheep near the coast. Many an old man from the ships which they captured here and there was rolled half dead to his fate in the waters; many a stout shepherd fighting for his herd dyed his grey hairs in his red blood. If any merchant then sailed the seas, if any Phoinician with sea – purple stuffs from Sidonian parts for sale, the Tyrsenian pirate caught him suddendly out at sea, and set upon his vessels laden with riches; and so many a man lost infinite cargo without a penny paid, and the Phoinician was carried to Sicilian Arethusa in chains, far from home, his fortune atolen and gone. But Dionysos disguised himself in a deceptive shape, and outwitted the Tyrsenians.

He put on a false appearance, like a lovely boy with smooth chin, wearing a gold necklace upon his neck; about his temples was a chaplet shining with selfsped gleams of a light unquenchable, broad green emeralds and the Indian stone, a scintillation of the bright sea. His body was clad in robes streaked with dye from the Tyrian shell more brilliant than the circling Dawn, when she has just been marked with lines. He stood on the brow of the shore, as if he wished to embark in their ship. They leapt ashore and captured the radiant son of Thyone in his guile; they stript him of his possessions, and tied Dionysos’s hands fast with ropes running behind his back. Suddendly the lad grew tall with wonderful beauty, as a man with horned head rising up to Olympos, touching the canopy af aerial clouds, and with booming throat roared as loud as an army of nine thousand men. The long hawsers became trailing snakes, changed into live serpents twisting their bodies about, the stayropes hissed, up into the air a horned viper ran along the mast to the yard in trailing coils: near the sky, the mast was a tall cypress with a shade of green leaves; ivy sprang up from the mastbox and ran into the sky wrapping its tendrils about the cypress of itself, the Bacchic stem popped out of the sea round the steering- oars all heavy with bunches of grapes; over the laden poop poured a fountain of wine bubbling the sweet drink of Dionysos. All along the decks wild beasts were springing up over the prow: bulls were bellowing, a lion’s throat let out a fearsome roar.

The Tyrsenians shrieked and rushed wildly about goade with fear. Plants were sprouting in the sea: the rolling waves of the waters put out flowers; the rose grew there, and reddened the rounded foaming swell upon it as if it were a garden, lilies gleamed in the surge. As they beheld these counterfeit meadows their eyes were bewitched. The place seemed to be a hill thick with  trees, and a woodland posturage, companies of countrymen and shepherds with their sheep; they thought they saw a tuneful herdsman playing a tune on his shepherd’s pipes; they thought they heard the melody from the loud pipes’ holes, and saw land while still sailing upon the boundless sea; then deluded by their madness they leapt into the deep and danced in the quiet water, now dolphins of the sea – for the shape of the men was changed into the shape of fish.