The Fiery Land of the Cyclopes
Vergil, Aeneid 3.570-587
Note: Trinacria = Sicily.
There is a harbor, unmoved by the approach
Of the winds, and huge by itself; but beside it
Etna thunders with dreadful collapses, and
From time to time it shoots forth into the air
A dark cloud, smoking with pitch-black whirlwinds
And red-hot ashes; it lifts up globs of flame
And licks the stars. At other times it belches forth
Crags and the mountain’s torn-away innards,
Raising them high, and in the breezes
It melds together melted rocks with a groan
As it seethes from its lowest depths.
The tale runs that by this mass the body
Of Enceladus, half-burned by lightning,
Is pressed; that vast Etna, placed atop him,
Breathes out flames from its ruptured furnaces;
And that, whenever he shifts from one
Weary side to another, all Trinacria trembles
With a rumble and veils the skies with smoke.
That night, sheltered by the woods, we endured
Terrible prodigies, and we could not see
What cause produced the noise. For the fires
Of the stars were nowhere to be seen,
Nor was heaven bright with starlight; no,
Vapors filled the murky sky, and the
Dead of night held the moon fast in a cloud.
Portus ab accessu ventorum immotus et ingens
ipse: sed horrificis iuxta tonat Aetna ruinis,
interdumque atram prorumpit ad aethera nubem
turbine fumantem piceo et candente favilla,
attollitque globos flammarum et sidera lambit;
interdum scopulos avulsaque viscera montis
erigit eructans, liquefactaque saxa sub auras
cum gemitu glomerat fundoque exaestuat imo.
fama est Enceladi semustum fulmine corpus
urgeri mole hac, ingentemque insuper Aetnam
impositam ruptis flammam exspirare caminis,
et fessum quotiens mutet latus, intremere omnem
murmure Trinacriam et caelum subtexere fumo.
noctem illam tecti silvis immania monstra
perferimus, nec quae sonitum det causa videmus.
nam neque erant astrorum ignes nec lucidus aethra
siderea polus, obscuro sed nubila caelo,
et lunam in nimbo nox intempesta tenebat.
Volcano, Lionel Walden, ca. 1920