Aetna 43-64

by Tom Gardner

temptauere (nefas) olim detrudere mundo
sidera captiuique Iouis transferre gigantes
imperium et uicto leges inponere caelo.
his natura sua est aluo tenus: ima per orbes
squameus intortos sinuat uestigia serpens.
construitur magnis ad proelia montibus agger,
Pelion Ossa premit, summus premit Ossan Olympus.
iam coaceruatas nituntur scandere moles,
impius et miles metuentia comminus astra
prouocat, infestus cunctos ad proelia diuos
prouocat admotis per inertia sidera signis.
Iuppiter et caelo metuit dextramque coruscam
armatus flamma remouet caligine mundum.
incursant uasto primum clamore gigantes.
hinc magno tonat ore pater geminantque fauentes
undique discordi sonitum simul agmine uenti;
densa per attonitas rumpuntur fulmina nubes,
atque in bellandum quae cuique potentia diuum
in commune uenit; iam patri dextera Pallas
et Mars laeuus erat, iam cetera turba deorum
stant utrimque tuens; ualidos tum Iuppiter ignis
increpat et uictor proturbat fulmine montes.

The giants — what sacrilege! — once tried to thrust down the stars from the sky,
and to capture Jupiter, transfer his sovereignty,
and to impose their laws on conquered heaven.
Their nature is human, all to the belly; to the bottom, through coils,
a scaly serpent spools spirals of the soles of their feet.
From great mountains, a battle bulwark is heaped;
Ossa presses upon Pelion, Olympus’s summit presses upon Ossa.
They strive now to scale the mounds, heap on heap,
irreverent, challenge the fearful stars to close combat,
deranged, challenge all the gods to pitched battle,
the soldiers moving their battle-standard through ranks of benumbed constellations.
Jupiter fears for heaven,
and takes the sky from sight with fog,
his hand glistering and wielding flame.
The giants begin the assault with a monstrous shout.
Now the father of gods thunders in a deep voice
and all around the warring wind musters,
redoubles the sound at once with its gust.
Thunderbolts flare thick through stricken cloud
and whatever battle-strength any god has,
it comes to them all.
Now at her father’s right was Pallas, Mars at his left;
Now the rest of the gods crowd, standing guard at either side;
Then Jupiter sounds his candescent fire,
the vanquisher kindles lightening at the mountains.