“The Mariners transform’d to Dolphins” (ll) – Ovid

Bacchus - Sergey Solomko



             Sergey Solomko





          “His base confederates the fact approve;


His base confederates, the shipmates who

would not protect the soft and lovely boy,

the little captive, that Acoetes believes to

be a god, if you’ll remember

          When Bacchus (for ’twas he) begun to move,

          Wak’d by the noise and clamours which they rais’d;

          And shook his drowsie limbs, and round him gaz’d:

          What means this noise? he cries; am I betray’d?

          Ah, whither, whither must I be convey’d?


whither, whither, where, where, to

what place, to what place

          Fear not, said Proreus, child, but tell us where
          You wish to land, and trust our friendly care.


Proreusanother of the several sailors

serving on Acoetes‘ ship

          To Naxos then direct your course, said he;

          Naxos a hospitable port shall be

          To each of you, a joyful home to me.


Naxosa Greek island, whither Bacchus /

Dionysus presently direct[s] his, however

questionable, hosts to repair

          By ev’ry God, that rules the sea or sky,

          The perjur’d villains promise to comply,

          And bid me hasten to unmoor the ship.


me, Acoetes

          With eager joy I launch into the deep;

          And, heedless of the fraud, for Naxos stand.


heedless, unaware


the fraud, [t]he perjur’d villains promise to comply


stand, proceed


          They whisper oft, and beckon with the hand,

          And give me signs, all anxious for their prey,

          To tack about, and steer another way.


They, the rebellious crew


anxious, wary,  suspicious


to tack, to change course

          Then let some other to my post succeed,

          Said I, I’m guiltless of so foul a deed.


succeed, take the place of, replace


guiltless, Acoetes will not accept

responsibility for the treachery of

his crew

          What, says Ethalion, must the ship’s whole crew

           Follow your humour, and depend on you?


Ethalion, again a shipmate

          And strait himself he seated at the prore,

          And tack’d about, and sought another shore.


prore, the prow, the fore part of a ship

          “The beauteous youth now found himself betray’d,


The beauteous youth, Bacchus / Dionysus

          And from the deck the rising waves survey’d,

          And seem’d to weep, and as he wept he said:

          And do you thus my easy faith beguile?

          Thus do you bear me to my native isle?


thus, in such a manner


beguile, deceive

          Will such a multitude of men employ

          Their strength against a weak defenceless boy?


this weak defenceless[ness] is his only

defence, apparently, to his captors, who

cannot, with the exception of Acoetes,

perceive the god’s divinity


          “In vain did I the God-like youth deplore,


deplore, express strong disapproval

of what the seamen were doing to

the god

          The more I begg’d, they thwarted me the more.

          And now by all the Gods in Heav’n that hear

          This solemn oath, by Bacchus’ self, I swear,

          The mighty miracle that did ensue,

          Although it seems beyond belief, is true.


make way,  says Acoetes, for the

metamorphosis, what you are

about to hear

          The vessel, fix’d and rooted in the flood,


fix’d, became affixed

          Unmov’d by all the beating billows stood.

          In vain the mariners would plow the main

          With sails unfurl’d, and strike their oars in vain;


plow the main, move forward on

the high seas

          Around their oars a twining ivy cleaves,

          And climbs the mast, and hides the cords in leaves:

          The sails are cover’d with a chearful green,

          And berries in the fruitful canvass seen.

          Amidst the waves a sudden forest rears

          Its verdant head, and a new Spring appears.


the ship is transformed into a

floating grove


stay tuned



R ! chard