Tracking Satyrs

Sophocles

Sophocles, creator; Mahoney, Anne (Anne Elizabeth), translator.

  1. Stay, if you can.
Chorus
  1. No way. But you go ahead: you keep looking and track down the cows, any way you want to, and take the gold --- unless the biggest --- time.
Silenus
  1. No, I won’t leave you, nor sneak away from the work, before we know for sure what’s going on in there.
Chorus
  1. Addressing the source of the noiseHey! You in there! --- voice --- reward --- you will be happy at home. To SilenusHe’s not coming out. To the noise-maker again. But I’ll force you out, making the ground rumble with my swift leaps and kicks,
  2. so you’ll listen, even if you’re altogether deaf.
Cyllene emerges from the cave.[*](Cyllene is a mountain in Arcadia, associated with Hermes. Here she is personified as a nymph, as natural features often are in Greek poetry.)
Cyllene
  1. Satyrs, why have you rushed up here making all this noise, on this mountain covered with green woods full of animals? Have you got yourselves a new job? You used to bring joy to your master[*](Dionysus), who would put on a fawn skin and carry a thyrsus in his hands. You would dance around the god shouting Evoe, along with the nymphs, who are his family, and a crowd of children. But now I don’t know what you’re doing. Where is this whirlwind
  2. of new craziness taking you? I heard something odd: first, nearby, orders like you’d give to hunting dogs when they get near a wild animal’s den in a thicket; then, at the same time, --- stretched out from the mouth to the thief ---. Then --- announcement ---. After that they went away, feet stomping, and a confused sound came from nearby. It would be different if ---
  3. So I heard the sounds of wrong notes --- you sick --- you did to a nymph that had nothing to do with it?
Chorus
  1. Deep-girdled nymph, don’t be angry. No one’s starting a war with you, nor has any unfriendly or trifling word touched my tongue. Please don’t threaten me, but graciously tell me what I need: who is it
  2. who seems to speak in a wonderful, inspired voice from below the earth?
Cyllene
  1. That’s better: you sound gentler now. You would learn more by hunting rather than from a coward’s great deeds or a nymph’s ordeal. I won’t put up with your loud, quarrelsome words. But calm down and tell me what it is you need.
Chorus
  1. Mighty Cyllene, lady of this land, I’ll tell you in a moment why I’ve come.
  2. But first tell us about that scraping noise and who’s making it.
Cyllene
  1. First of all, understand this: if you say one word of what I’m about to tell you, you’ll be in trouble. This business is a secret even among the gods, so that no news of it may come to Hera. You see, Zeus came secretly to Atlas’s house
  2. --- to the deep-girdled goddess [*](Maia, daughter of Atlas) --- and in a cave begot a single son. I am bringing him up myself, for his mother’s strength is shaken by sickness as if by a storm. So I stay by his crib and take care of his food and drink and rest, all day and all night. He grows, day by day, in a very unusual way, and I’m astounded and afraid. It’s not even six days since he was born,
  3. and he already stands as tall as a young man. His growth spurt hasn’t wasted any time coming. That’s the kind of child that’s in my treasure-house. His father has ensured he would be difficult to find. He has a hidden machine that makes the sound you’re asking about, that so surprised you. It’s a box full of pleasure that he made in just one day from a dead animal he found, and he’s down there shaking it.
Chorus
  1. ---unspeakable --- child --- of a cow [*](Or of a shout?) --- amazed --- prey --- speaking voice --- to make such sounds from a dead animal.
Cyllene
  1. Don’t be so skeptical: for a goddess is speaking trusty words to you.[*](This passage, to line 292, is in iambic tetrameters acatalectic, a very unusual meter for dialogue. The parabasis-speech in an Old Comedy is always in tetrameters, but always catalectic (iambic, trochaic, or anapestic). Trochaic tetrameters catalectic are fairly common in tragedy for excited scenes. There are no other acatalectic iambic tetrameters in extant complete plays, though they appear in at least one other fragmentary satyr play. We don’t know why this scene is in this particular meter.)
Chorus
  1. How should I believe that a dead animal’s voice can roar like that?
Cyllene
  1. Believe it: it speaks now it’s dead, though it had no voice when it was alive.