Prayers of Statius
by: M. Horatius Piscinus
Publius Papinius Statius (40-95/6 CE)


I. 1-3 Retell the story to us, O Goddess, of magnanimous Aeacides and of the progeny whom thundering Jupiter so feared that He forbade him to succeed to his father's heaven.

I. 9-10 Grant me, O Phoebus, new fonts of inspiration and weave fortune's garland as a crown upon my head.

I.61-76 Father and Master of the mighty Deep, look, Neptune, at what kind of pitiful use You allow passage across the open seas. Safely under sail pass the crimes of nations, ever since that Pagasean prow ruptured the sanctions of law and the hallowed dignity of the sea while carrying Jason in his quest for plunder. Grant that I may drive off mourning, and that it not be pleasing to You that over so many waves I should find but a single shore to inhabit a sepulcher on some Ilian promontory.

I.143-4 Lead on, O best of Mothers, I plead, lead on, and exhaust the Gods with humble entreaties (on my behalf).

I.383-93 O land that is dear to me, for whom timidly we commissioned pledges of great care and to whose city was entrusted a most important concern, may you prosper in happiness and in silence, I pray, just as Crete was silent for Rhea. Enduring and eternal honour shall be yours, covered as you will in temples, and your fame shall be unsurpassed by even unstable Delos. Sacred to wind and waves alike, and among the shallows of the Cyclades, where Aegean storms shatter rocks, a tranquil home for Nereids you shall be, and isle by which sailors vow. Only, I pray, that you do not admit even a single Grecian prow. Here are held only the dances of Bacchae, nothing of use in warfare is here.

I.496-8; 508-9 Too forgetful have you become of Phoebus and of your own tripods, O son of Thestor; when again shall you rightly move your god inspired lips and reveal once more to us which secrets the Fates have hidden? Come now, break in upon the Gods and trouble Them for the hidden fates. Drink deeply, as you ever do, and avidly breathe the aroma of laurel-fed fires.


I 1.74-78 Hail, Child of the Mighty, Father of the Gods, whose divine power I have heard from afar. In one moment my pool is blessed with happiness, at another it is venerated, made holy by Your presence, ever since I was granted to know that You are never far from me, and was enabled to watch Your immortal radiance from a vicinity near my abode.

I 2.47-9 Here, come close to me, pleasant Erato, teach me, while others may bustle through your doors, moving forward as in procession through your halls, and though many of the staffers come knocking at your door, still, Erato, teach me.

I 6.1-7 Father Phoebus and austere Pallas, away hence, and you too, Muses, go far from these celebrations, we will recall you after the first of the New Year. But for now, Saturn, let slip your fetters and come hither with December tipsy on wine, accompanied by Mirth laughing and insolent Humor, come hither.

II 3.6-7 Do tell us, Naiads, the cause, and, good-natured Fauns, it is enough, inspire in me a song.

II 3.43-52 Live long, O tree, as a memorable pledge to my vow, and at least lovingly lower yourself over the secret lair of this harsh nymph, conceal her waters with your leaves. Even if she should merit it, let her not, I pray, be burned by the sun?s fire above, or be pelted by harsh hail storms. Remember to strew your leaves thickly, rippling her pool's surface. Then will I long recall the Lady of this kindly place, and you, and guard both unharmed, into my old age, in order that the oak of Jupiter and the bay laurel of Phoebus, and the variegated poplar give shade, and our own pines may be astonished by your germinating shoots.

III 1.23-8 Come hither, Hercules, who, now free of your obligations, may choose whether to live in your native Argos and spurn death as Eurystheus buried in his tomb, or whether your virtue has won you a place among the stars beneath the throne of your father Jupiter, and Hebe, better than Phrygian Ganymede, with her robe girded, offers you a cup of blessed nectar to drink, come hither, and grace this newly dedicated temple with the presence of your genius.

III 1.154-8 Why not arouse yourself, Hercules, to come and to graciously honour these feats of the festival we hold in your name; whether to split the clouds with your discus, or send your javelin speeding more swiftly than Zephyrs, or whether it please you to lock arms in a Libyan wrestling competition, indulge our ceremonies with your divine presence.

III 2.1-49 Gods, who delight in preserving bold ships and turning from them the perils of windy seas, make smooth and placid these waters, and attend with good council my vows, let not my words be drowned out by roaring waves as I pray:

"O Neptune, grand and rare is the pledge we make to You, and in what we commend into the depths of the sea. Young Maecius it is whose body we commit to the sea, far from the sight of land, that he, the better part of our souls, traverses the sea's length and depth (to the Western Lands).

"Bring forth the benign stars, the Spartan brothers, Castor and Pollux, to sit upon the horns of the yard arm. Let your light illuminate sea and sky. Drive off your sister Helen?s stormy star, I pray, and expel it from all the heavens.

"And you azure Nereids of the seas, whose good fortune it was to attain mastery of the oceans - may it be allowed to name you stars of the seas - rise up from your glassy caverns near the foaming waves that encircle Doris, and tranquilly swim circles around the shores of Baiae where the hot springs abound. Seek after the lofty ship on which a noble descendant of Ausonians, Celer, mighty at arms, is glad to embark. Not long will you need to look, for she lately came across the sea, leading a convoy laden with Egyptian wheat and bound for Dicarcheis. First was she to salute Capreae and from her starboard side offer a libation of Mareotic wine to Tyrrhenian Minerva. Near to her, on either side, circle gracefully around her. Divide your labors, some to tighten fast the rigging from masts to deck, while others high above spread forth canvass sails to the westerly Zephyrs. Still others replace some benches, others send into the water the rudder by whose curved blade steers the ship. Another plumbs the depths with leaden weights while others to fasten the skiff that follows astern, and to dive down and drag the hooked anchor from the depths, and one to control the tides and make the sea flow eastward. Let none of the sea green sisterhood be without her task.

"Then let Proteus of manifold shape and triformed Triton swim before, and Glaucus whose loins vanished by sudden enchantment, and who, so oft as he glides up to his native shores, wistfully beats his fish tail on Anthedon's strand.

"But above all others you, Palaemon, with your goddess mother, be favourable, if I have a passion to tell of your own Thebes, and sing of Amphion, bard of Phoebus, with no unworthy quill.

"And may the father whose Aeolian prison constrains the winds, whom the various blasts obey, and every air that stirs on the world?s seas, and storms and cloudy tempests, keep the North wind and South and East in closer custody behind his wall of mountain, but may Zephyr alone have the freedom of the sky, alone drive vessels onward and skim unceasingly over the crests of billows, until he brings without a storm your glad sails safe to the Paraetonian haven."

III 2.101-7; 121-2 Isis, once stalled in Phoroneus' caves, now queen of Pharos and a deity of the breathless East, welcome with the sound of many sistrums the Mareotic bark, and gently with your own hand lead the peerless youth, on whom the Latian prince has bestowed the standards of the East and the bridling of the cohorts of Palestine, through festal gate and sacred haven and the cities of your land. Escort the youth even to his Assyrian station and the appointed camp, O Goddess, and deliver him to Mars of the Latins.

III 3.1-7 Most High among the Gods, Pietas, most blessed of the heavens, who rarely sees the profane powers of the earth, come hither with fillets in your hair and adorned with snow-white robe, as when still a present goddess, before the deceit of rude people had driven you away, you did dwell among an innocent people in a reign of gold. Come to these quiet obsequies, and look upon the duteous tears of sorrowing Etruscus, and brush them from his eyes with words of praise.

III 3.12-7 Come, be present, gods and men, to these holy rites. Begone, you wicked folk, begone far from here, all in whose hearts is haboured unspoken an unholy desire, any who thinks their elderly relatives have lived too long, or you who are conscious of ever having struck your own mother, fears the urn of unbending Aeacus in the Underworld. I call only upon the innocent and the chaste.

III 4.99-105 But the peerless boy stretched forth his hands with his palms up to the stars as he prayed, ?Most gentle guardian of men, promise to me in reward for my gift to you, if I am worthy, to long preserve our lord's youthfulness, and preserve him for sake of the world. The sky, the sea, and the earth join with me in my prayer. May he live, I pray, through as many years as both Priam and Nestor had together, and rejoicing see his own home and the Tarpeian shrine grow to an old age with himself.

IV 2.57-9 May the Gods grant thee - for it is said that they often give ear to lesser souls - to surpass, twice, and thrice over, the limit of years of old age.

IV 3.139 Hail, leader of men and Father of the Gods, foreseen to me and preordained as a divine power.

IV 8.45-54 Gods of our fathers, whom with mighty auspices the Abantian fleet conveyed over the sea to Aausonian shore, and you, Apollo, guide of your far-wandering people, whose bird seated on your left shoulder prosperous Parthenope, daughter of Eumelus, lovingly beholds and worships in Cumae, and you, Attic Ceres, for whom in breathless dance we your silent votaries do not cease to wave the lamp of the mystae, and you the Tyndarids, to whom not grim Taygetus, Lycurgus' mount, nor shady Therapnae gives truer worship: Gods of our country, preserve this home of our ancestral spirits along with their descendents.

V 3.277-9 But do you, kings among the Shades and Ennean Juno, Proserpina, if you approve of my prayer, lead the Furies far away with their firebrands.
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