Nomina induta

A translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses III.206-236: Actaeon, transformed by the goddess Diana into a deer, as punishment for spying on her bathing, is pursued and mauled by his own hounds.

While in a daze (the shock of his likeness to deer so perplexing),

Blackfur and Tracker, hawk-eyed, are the first to call out to the others

(Tracker, from Cnossus, is shrewd; Blackfur is sombre, from Sparta).

Soon they pour forth, a formidable pack with the pace of a blizzard:

Hoover and Feather and Climber – all born in idyllic Arcadia,

Hunter the mighty, Barbarian the demon together with Thunder,

Eagle the digger, and Brutus, endowed with the sharpest of snuffers,

Howler, attacked by a boar only moments ago – he’s still raging;

Valerie, born to a wolf, and Sheepherder, flock-gathering expert,

Harpy, not far in pursuit, escorted by two of her puppies,

Olive the slender, whose hips are so tight, born in faraway Sicyon,

Runner and Barker and Spotty and Tiger, tailgated by Muscles;

eager, immaculate Luna two strides after ebony Sweeper,

Spartan unbeatable, Screwball unflagging regardless of distance,

Dash in a rush and swift Cyprian ahead of his littermate Wolfie;

Snatcher draws near – his whole mantle so fair but a patch on his forehead,

black over white; — here come Dusk and that impetuous hairball that’s Woolly,

here come the threeborn of Zeus and of Fighter – he Cretan, she Spartan:

Boisterous, Whitefang and Whiny, plus others – too many to name them.

All have been trained for the chase, a battalion of shadows advancing,

graduates of cliffs and of crags, and of rocks with no path but their boldness –

path or not path, whether easy or hard, they will get to their target!

… Flight is his only decision – these places familiar from hunting

— Damn! His own servants now hunt him! He tries, one last time, to give orders:

“How do you not recognize me? I am Actaeòn: I’m your Master!”

Dead is the sound of his words; the air is an echo of growling.

Nightmare is first to taste blood – all over the back as he wounds him;

Tamer’s already joined in, before Rocky grabs on to the shoulder,

clever they were… they set off rather late, they remembered the shortcuts

quicker than everyone else through the mountain, they now got their master

pinned – as the rest take their turn with their fangs, digging into his body.


Full list of the dogs

Melampus = Blackfur
Ichnobates = Tracker
Pamphagos = Hoover (all-devourer)
Dorceus = Feather (gazelle)
Oribasos = Climber (of hills)
Nebrophonos = Hunter (killer of fawns)
Laelaps = Thunder (storm)
Theron = Barbarian (savage)
Pterelas = Eagle (winged fighter)
Ager = Brutus (ferocious)
Hylaeus = Whiny
Nape = Valerie (of the vale)
Poemenis = Sheepherder
Harpyia = harpy
Sicyonius = Corinthian (from Sicyon)
Ladon = Olive (oily)
Dromas = Runner
Canache = Barker
Stictus = Spotty
Tigris = Tiger
Alce = Muscles (strong)
Leucon = Snowy (white)
Asbolos = Sweeper (sooty)
Lacon = Spartan
Aello = Screwball (mad)
Thoos = Dash (fast)
Cyprio = Cyprian (from Cyprus)
Lyciscus = Wolfie
Harpalos = Snatcher
Lachne = Woolly
Melaneus = Dusk (verging on black)
Dictaeus = Cretan
Laconis = Fighter (Spartan woman)
Labros = Boisterous
Argiodus = Whitefang
Hylactor = Whiny
Melanchetes = Nightmare (dark anxiety)
Theridamas = Tamer (of beasts)
Oresitrophos = Rocky (mountain-bred)


Ovid’s Latin original (Met., III.206-236)

Dum dubitat, videre canes, primique Melampus

Ichnobatesque sagax latratu signa dedere,

Cnosius Ichnobates, Spartana gente Melampus.

inde ruunt alii rapida velocius aura,

Pamphagos et Dorceus et Oribasos, Arcades omnes,               

Nebrophonosque valens et trux cum Laelape Theron

et pedibus Pterelas et naribus utilis Agre

Hylaeusque ferox nuper percussus ab apro

deque lupo concepta Nape pecudesque secuta

Poemenis et natis comitata Harpyia duobus               

et substricta gerens Sicyonius ilia Ladon

et Dromas et Canache Sticteque et Tigris et Alce

et niveis Leucon et villis Asbolos atris

praevalidusque Lacon et cursu fortis Aello

et Thoos et Cyprio velox cum fratre Lycisce               

et nigram medio frontem distinctus ab albo

Harpalos et Melaneus hirsutaque corpore Lachne

et patre Dictaeo, sed matre Laconide nati

Labros et Argiodus et acutae vocis Hylactor

quosque referre mora est: ea turba cupidine praedae               

per rupes scopulosque adituque carentia saxa,

quaque est difficilis quaque est via nulla, sequuntur.

ille fugit per quae fuerat loca saepe secutus,

heu! famulos fugit ipse suos. clamare libebat:

‘Actaeon ego sum: dominum cognoscite vestrum!’               

verba animo desunt; resonat latratibus aether.

prima Melanchaetes in tergo vulnera fecit,

proxima Theridamas, Oresitrophos haesit in armo:

tardius exierant, sed per conpendia montis

anticipata via est; dominum retinentibus illis,               

cetera turba coit confertque in corpore dentes.

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