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Wisdom 17

 
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1 μεγάλαι γάρ σου αἱ κρίσεις καὶ δυσδιήγητοι διὰ τοῦτο ἀπαίδευτοι ψυχαὶ ἐπλανήθησαν 2 ὑπειληφότες γὰρ καταδυναστεύειν ἔθνος ἅγιον ἄνομοι δέσμιοι σκότους καὶ μακρᾶς πεδῆται νυκτὸς κατακλεισθέντες ὀρόφοις φυγάδες τῆς αἰωνίου προνοίας ἔκειντο 3 λανθάνειν γὰρ νομίζοντες ἐπὶ κρυφαίοις ἁμαρτήμασιν ἀφεγγεῖ λήθης παρακαλύμματι ἐσκορπίσθησαν θαμβούμενοι δεινῶς καὶ ἰνδάλμασιν ἐκταρασσόμενοι 4 οὐδὲ γὰρ ὁ κατέχων αὐτοὺς μυχὸς ἀφόβους διεφύλαττεν ἦχοι {D'} ἐκταράσσοντες αὐτοὺς περιεκόμπουν καὶ φάσματα ἀμειδήτοις κατηφῆ προσώποις ἐνεφανίζετο 5 καὶ πυρὸς μὲν οὐδεμία βία κατίσχυεν φωτίζειν οὔτε ἄστρων ἔκλαμπροι φλόγες καταυγάζειν ὑπέμενον τὴν στυγνὴν ἐκείνην νύκτα 6 διεφαίνετο {D'} αὐτοῖς μόνον αὐτομάτη πυρὰ φόβου πλήρης ἐκδειματούμενοι δὲ τῆς μὴ θεωρουμένης ἐκείνης ὄψεως ἡγοῦντο χείρω τὰ βλεπόμενα 1 High above us, Lord, are thy judgements, mysterious thy dealings; no skill had those Egyptian hearts to understand them. 2 They had thought to exercise barbarous tyranny over a nation consecrated to thee. And now they lay, shut close under their own roofs, darkness their dungeon, their sentence a long-drawn night, exiled from the gifts of thy eternal Providence. 3 Did they hope, under that dark veil of oblivion, to find a cloak for secret sinning? Nay, they were scattered far apart, and in grievous dread of the terrors that came to daunt them. 4 Lie snug in their hidden lairs they might not; noises swept down, echoing about their affrighted ears, and boding visions of sad faces cowed their spirits. 5 Fire itself no light could give them, nor star’s clear beam illuminate that hideous night; 6 only now and again a blaze shone out, not of their kindling, terrible to behold; and fear of this unseen radiance lent fresh horror to the sights it shewed.[1] 1

Magna sunt enim judicia tua, Domine,
et inenarrabilia verba tua:
propter hoc indisciplinatæ animæ erraverunt.
2
Dum enim persuasum habent iniqui
posse dominari nationi sanctæ,
vinculis tenebrarum et longæ noctis compediti,
inclusi sub tectis,
fugitivi perpetuæ providentiæ jacuerunt.
3
Et dum putant se latere in obscuris peccatis,
tenebroso oblivionis velamento dispersi sunt,
paventes horrende,
et cum admiratione nimia perturbati.
4
Neque enim quæ continebat illos spelunca sine timore custodiebat,
quoniam sonitus descendens perturbabat illos,
et personæ tristes illis apparentes pavorem illis præstabant.
5
Et ignis quidem nulla vis poterat illis lumen præbere,
nec siderum limpidæ flammæ
illuminare poterant illam noctem horrendam.
6
Apparebat autem illis subitaneus ignis, timore plenus;
et timore perculsi illius quæ non videbatur faciei,
æstimabant deteriora esse quæ videbantur.
7 μαγικῆς δὲ ἐμπαίγματα κατέκειτο τέχνης καὶ τῆς ἐπὶ φρονήσει ἀλαζονείας ἔλεγχος ἐφύβριστος 8 οἱ γὰρ ὑπισχνούμενοι δείματα καὶ ταραχὰς ἀπελαύνειν ψυχῆς νοσούσης οὗτοι καταγέλαστον εὐλάβειαν ἐνόσουν 9 καὶ γὰρ εἰ μηδὲν αὐτοὺς ταραχῶδες ἐφόβει κνωδάλων παρόδοις καὶ ἑρπετῶν συριγμοῖς ἐκσεσοβημένοι διώλλυντο ἔντρομοι καὶ τὸν μηδαμόθεν φευκτὸν ἀέρα προσιδεῖν ἀρνούμενοι 10 δειλὸν γὰρ ἰδίῳ πονηρία μάρτυρι καταδικαζομένη ἀεὶ δὲ προσείληφεν τὰ χαλεπὰ συνεχομένη τῇ συνειδήσει 11 οὐθὲν γάρ ἐστιν φόβος εἰ μὴ προδοσία τῶν ἀπὸ λογισμοῦ βοηθημάτων 12 ἔνδοθεν δὲ οὖσα ἥττων ἡ προσδοκία πλείονα λογίζεται τὴν ἄγνοιαν τῆς παρεχούσης τὴν βάσανον αἰτίας 13 οἱ δὲ τὴν ἀδύνατον ὄντως νύκτα καὶ ἐξ ἀδυνάτου ᾅδου μυχῶν ἐπελθοῦσαν τὸν αὐτὸν ὕπνον κοιμώμενοι 14 τὰ μὲν τέρασιν ἠλαύνοντο φαντασμάτων τὰ δὲ τῆς ψυχῆς παρελύοντο προδοσίᾳ αἰφνίδιος γὰρ αὐτοῖς καὶ ἀπροσδόκητος φόβος ἐπεχύθη 7 A mockery, now, seemed those magic arts of theirs; ignominious the rebuff to their boasted cunning. 8 The very men who had professed to rid ailing minds of all discomposure and disquiet, were now themselves sick with apprehension, to their great discomfiture. 9 Even when no alarms were present to disturb them, the memory of prowling beast and hissing serpent filled them with mortal tremors, till they shut their eyes against the sight of empty air, we must all breathe.[2] 10 So cowardly a thing is wickedness, it pronounces its own condemnation; hard pressed by conscience, it forecasts ever the worst. 11 What else is timorousness, but a betrayal of the vantage-ground reason gives us? 12 Imagination, already defeated within its own stronghold, fears the unknown more than it fears the true source of its misery. 13 Whether the darkness that held them bound were true night, or that darkness which comes up from the lowest depths of the grave, their bemused senses could not well distinguish;[3] 14 now monstrous apparitions came indeed to scare them, now it was but their own faint hearts made cowards of them; in a moment dismay was all about them, and took them unawares. 7
Et magicæ artis appositi erant derisus,
et sapientiæ gloriæ correptio cum contumelia.
8
Illi enim qui promittebant
timores et perturbationes expellere se ab anima languente,
hi cum derisu pleni timore languebant.
9
Nam etsi nihil illos ex monstris perturbabat,
transitu animalium et serpentium sibilatione commoti,
tremebundi peribant,
et aërem quem nulla ratione quis effugere posset, negantes se videre.
10
Cum sit enim timida nequitia,
dat testimonium condemnationis:
semper enim præsumit sæva,
perturbata conscientia:
11
nihil enim est timor nisi proditio cogitationis auxiliorum.
12
Et dum ab intus minor est exspectatio,
majorem computat inscientiam ejus causæ,
de qua tormentum præstat.
13
Illi autem qui impotentem vere noctem,
et ab infimis et ab altissimis inferis supervenientem,
eumdem somnum dormientes,
14
aliquando monstrorum exagitabantur timore,
aliquando animæ deficiebant traductione:
subitaneus enim illis et insperatus timor supervenerat.
15 εἶ{Q'} οὕτως ὃς δή πο{T'} οὖν ἦν ἐκεῖ καταπίπτων ἐφρουρεῖτο εἰς τὴν ἀσίδηρον εἱρκτὴν κατακλεισθείς 16 εἴ τε γὰρ γεωργὸς ἦν τις ἢ ποιμὴν ἢ τῶν κα{T'} ἐρημίαν ἐργάτης μόχθων προλημφθεὶς τὴν δυσάλυκτον ἔμενεν ἀνάγκην μιᾷ γὰρ ἁλύσει σκότους πάντες ἐδέθησαν 17 εἴ τε πνεῦμα συρίζον ἢ περὶ ἀμφιλαφεῖς κλάδους ὀρνέων ἦχος εὐμελὴς ἢ ῥυθμὸς ὕδατος πορευομένου βίᾳ ἢ κτύπος ἀπηνὴς καταρριπτομένων πετρῶν 18 ἢ σκιρτώντων ζῴων δρόμος ἀθεώρητος ἢ ὠρυομένων ἀπηνεστάτων θηρίων φωνὴ ἢ ἀντανακλωμένη ἐκ κοιλότητος ὀρέων ἠχώ παρέλυεν αὐτοὺς ἐκφοβοῦντα 19 ὅλος γὰρ ὁ κόσμος λαμπρῷ κατελάμπετο φωτὶ καὶ ἀνεμποδίστοις συνείχετο ἔργοις 20 μόνοις δὲ ἐκείνοις ἐπετέτατο βαρεῖα νὺξ εἰκὼν τοῦ μέλλοντος αὐτοὺς διαδέχεσθαι σκότους ἑαυτοῖς δὲ ἦσαν βαρύτεροι σκότους 15 Into this prison, then, that needed no bars to secure it, all fell alike, whatever their condition; 16 tiller of the fields, or shepherd, or workman that plied his task out in the desert, each was caught at his post, each must abide the inevitable lot, 17 by darkness, like all his fellows, held in thrall. Did the wind whistle, or bird utter tuneful notes deep amid the boughs; were it the dull roar of some waterfall, 18 or the sudden crash of tumbling rocks, or the padding feet of beasts that gambolled past them unseen, or the howl of wild things ravening, or a booming echo from the mountain hollows, it was all one; it would startle them into a great quaking of fear. 19 All around them the world was bathed in the clear sunlight, and men went about their tasks unhindered; 20 over them alone this heavy curtain of night was spread, image of the darkness that should be their next abode. Yet each man had a burden heavier to bear than darkness itself, the burden of his own companionship. 15
Deinde si quisquam ex illis decidisset,
custodiebatur in carcere sine ferro reclusus.
16
Si enim rusticus quis erat, aut pastor,
aut agri laborum operarius præoccupatus esset,
ineffugibilem sustinebat necessitatem;
17
una enim catena tenebrarum omnes erant colligati.
Sive spiritus sibilans,
aut inter spissos arborum ramos avium sonus suavis,
aut vis aquæ decurrentis nimium,
18
aut sonus validus præcipitatarum petrarum,
aut ludentium animalium cursus invisus,
aut mugientium valida bestiarum vox,
aut resonans de altissimis montibus echo:
deficientes faciebant illos præ timore.
19
Omnis enim orbis terrarum limpido illuminabatur lumine,
et non impeditis operibus continebatur.
20
Solis autem illis superposita erat gravis nox,
imago tenebrarum quæ superventura illis erat:
ipsi ergo sibi erant graviores tenebris.
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Copyright © 2013 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.