Therefore souls undisciplined went astray.
They themselves, prisoners of darkness, and bound in the fetters of a long night,
Close kept beneath their roofs,
Lay exiled from the eternal providence.
They were scattered one from another by a dark curtain of forgetfulness,
Stricken with terrible awe, and sore troubled by spectral forms.
But sounds rushing down rang around them,
And phantoms appeared, cheerless with unsmiling faces.
Neither could the brightest flames of the stars illumine that gloomy night:
And in terror at that sight on which they could not gaze
They deemed the appearance
To be worse than it really was;
And shameful was the rebuke of their boasted knowledge:
Were sick themselves with fear worthy of laughter:
Refusing even to look on the air, which could on no side be escaped.
It reckons its ignorance worse than the cause that bringeth the torment.
And which came upon them out of the recesses of powerless Hades,
All sleeping the same sleep,
And now were paralysed by their soul’s surrender;
For fear sudden and unlooked for came upon them.
Was shut up in ward in that prison which was barred not with iron:
Or a labourer whose toils were in the wilderness,
He was overtaken, and endured that inevitable necessity,
For with one chain of darkness were they all bound.
Or a melodious noise of birds among the spreading branches,
Or a measured fall of water running violently,
Or the swift course of animals bounding along unseen,
Or the voice of wild beasts harshly roaring,
Or an echo rebounding from the hollows of the mountains,
All these things paralysed them with terror.
And was occupied with unhindered works;
An image of the darkness that should afterward receive them;
But yet heavier than darkness were they unto themselves.