The pine cut for the Argonauts from the steep slope of Mount Pelion first taught the evil paths through the glittering waves of the sea. By rashly slipping between the sliding rocks, it was able to carry the Golden Fleece.
Oh! would that the Argo had been drowned in the funereal waters, so that no other oarsman might set off from the long-stretching coast! I say this because Corinna is preparing to leave her familiar couch and the Penates in her own household shrine to travel the treacherous seaways.
Why should poor miserable me have to fear Zephyr the west wind and Euros the east wind and cold Boreas the north wind and the mild south wind Notus? You will not be impressed by the cities there nor by the forests: the cruel sea is all of one blue-green shape.
Nor will you find delicate conchs or painted seashells in the middle of the water: searching for those is the pastime of the gurgling shore. Let your marble feet leave their prints on the shore, girls. You can safely go that close to the sea, but the rest of the route is blind chance.
Let others tell you of the battling winds and the waters where Scylla lurks or Charybdis does. Others can describe the violent coast of Epirus whose cliffs stare down and the treacherous sandbanks of the Great and Lesser Syrtes.
Others can talk about these things. And when anyone describes them, you should believe them. No storm will harm the trusting listener.
It’s too late to look back at the land when your curving ship has loosed its hawser and speeds onto the great salt expanse. The nervous sailor shivers when the winds turn hostile; he sees death as near to him as the water is.
If irritable Triton rouses the waves, your face will lose all its color. Then you will call on the lucky stars Castor and Pollux and cry, “Happy is the one who stands on dry land!” It would have been safer to wriggle in your bed, to read books, and to play your Thracian lyre.
But if winged storms have blown away my words uselessly, nevertheless may your ship’s namesake, the goddess Galatea, be kindly to her. Hear me, Nereids and Nereus himself, the father of sea nymphs! If this girl is lost, the crime is on your heads!
May you think about me while you travel, and may you return in a favorable wind. May stronger breezes fill the belly of your returning sail! May great Nereus tilt the sea toward your home shore; let the winds all face hither, and the tides drive the waters here.
I hope that only the Zephyrs touch your rigging and that you may speed the swollen sails by your own efforts.
I will be the first to sight your well-known vessel from the shore and cry, “That ship brings the gods back to me!” I will take you in my arms and snatch unnumbered wild kisses from you.
The victim vowed for your return will be sacrificed. I will heap the sands into a couch and mound up more into a well-stocked table.
There with the wine beside us you will tell me your stories: how the ship was almost shattered in the midst of the waves, and how you hastened to me even in the dangerous nighttime, fearless even of the violent Sirocco.
I will believe everything you say, no matter how much you lie. Why should I not be pleased at what I prayed for? May shining Lucifer bring all this to me as soon as he has turned his horses into the high firmament!