Ad ejusdem uxorem, de partus difficultate(c.1576-1579)

See introduction to d2_RolH_016. Metre: elegiac couplets.

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Ad ejusdem uxorem, de partus difficultate

1Nocte satam triplici dum prolem Alcmena Tonantis
edere visceribus nititur aegra suis
(quae terris pace referat, quae sydera portet,
et meriti tandem gaudeat arce poli):
5Lucina obsedit, jussu Iunonis iniquae,
limina, sortilegas pectine juncta manus.
Unde parens crebro infaelix exercita nixu
vix jam septena libera luce fuit.
Si sic invideant venturae numina laudi,
10insignes partus ut prohibere parent:
tu tibi difficiles jam verte in gaudia nixus,
12nam tanto soboles magna labore venit.

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To the wife of the same man, on a difficult birth

When unhappy Alcmene laboured to put forth from her innermost parts the child begotten in the third watch from Jupiter a (she who returned peace to the earth, who carried stars, and at last rejoiced in the refuge of deserved heaven): Lucina, on the command of hostile Juno, barred the threshold, her prophetic hands clasped in distress. As a result the unfortunate parent was scarcely free from the pain she was continually harassed with for seven days. So if the divinities envy glory to come, they make plans to check a distinguished birth: now you, turn your hard pains into joy, for a great offspring comes from such a labour.



a: Alcmene was the mother of Hercules, and there are several different accounts of the difficulties she faced in giving birth to him. In one tradition (according to Ovid's Metamorphoses) after seven days and nights in agony, Alcmene stretched out her arms and called upon Lucina, the goddess of childbirth. However, while Lucina did go to Alcmene, she was instructed by Juno (Hera) to stop the delivery. Lucina clasped her hands and crossed her legs while pronouncing a series of incantations, which prevented Alcmene from completing her labour.