But I’d sooner have the depths of earth gape open,
and almighty Father hurl me down to Hades
with his bolt, to the pallid shades and inky night,
before I disobey my conscience or its laws.

[Sed mihi vel tellus optem prius ima dehiscat
Vel pater omnipotens adigat me fulmine ad umbras,
Pallentis umbras Erebo noctemque profundam,
Ante, pudor, quam te violo aut tua iura resolvo.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 4, l. 24ff (4.24-29) [Dido] (29-19 BC) [tr. Bartsch (2021)]
    (Source)

Dido, regarding her loyalty to her dead husband even as she falls in love with Aeneas. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

But first let yawning earth a passage rend,
And let me thro' the dark abyss descend;
First let avenging Jove, with flames from high,
Drive down this body to the nether sky,
Condemn'd with ghosts in endless night to lie,
Before I break the plighted faith I gave!
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

But sooner may earth from her lowest depths yawn for me, or the almighty Sire hurl me by his thunder to the shades, the pale shades of Erebus and deep night, than I violate thee, modesty, or break they laws.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

But first for me may Earth unseal
     The horrors of her womb,
Or Jove with awful thunderpeal
     Dismiss me into gloom,
The gloom of Orcus' dim twilight,
Or deeper still, primeval night,
Ere wound I thee, my woman's fame,
Or disallow thy sacred claim.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

But I would rather that the steadfast earth
Should yawn beneath me, from its lowest depths,
Or the Omnipotent Father hurl me down
With thunder to the shades, the pallid shades
Of Erebus, and night profound, ere thee,
O sacred shame, I violate, or break
Thy laws.
[tr. Cranch (1872)]

But rather, I pray, may earth first yawn deep for me, or the Lord omnipotent hurl me with his thunderbolt into gloom, the pallid gloom and profound night of Erebus, ere I soil thee, mine honour, or unloose thy laws.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

And yet I pray the deeps of earth beneath my feet may yawn,
I pray the Father send me down bolt-smitten to the shades,
The pallid shades of Erebus, the night that never fades,
Before, O Shame, I shame thy face, or loose what thou hast tied!
[tr. Morris (1900)]

But O! gape Earth, or may the Sire of might
Hurl me with lightning to the Shades amain,
Pale shades of Erebus and abysmal Night,
Ere, wifely modesty, thy name I stain,
Or dare thy sacred precepts to profane.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 4, l. 28ff]

But may the earth gape open where I tread,
and may almighty Jove with thunder-scourge
hurl me to Erebus' abysmal shade,
to pallid ghosts and midnight fathomless,
before, O Chastity! I shall offend
thy holy power, or cast thy bonds away!
[tr. Williams (1910)]

But rather, I would pray, may earth yawn for me to its depths, or may the Almighty Father hurl me with his bolt to the shades -- the pale shades and abysmal night of Erebus -- before, O Shame, I violate thee or break thy laws!
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

But I pray, rather,
That earth engulf me, lightning strike me down
To the pale shades and everlasting night
Before I break the laws of decency.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

But no, I would rather the earth should open and swallow me
Or the Father of heaven strike me with lightning down to the shades --
The pale shades and deep night of the Underworld -- before
I violate or deny pure widowhood's claim upon me.
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

But I should call upon the earth to gape
and close above me, or on the almighty
Father to take his thunderbolt, to hurl
me down to the shades, the pallid shadows
and deepest night of Erebus, before
I'd violate you, Shame, or break your laws!
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971)]

But O chaste life, before I break your laws,
I pray that Earth may open, gape for me
Down to its depth, or the omnipotent
With one stroke blast me to the shades, pale shades
Of Erebus and the deep world of night!
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981)]

But I would pray that the earth open to its depths and swallow me or that the All-powerful Father of the Gods blast me with his thunderbolt and hurl me down to the pale shades of Erebus and its bottomless night before I go against my conscience and rescind its laws.
[tr. West (1990)]

But may the earth gape open and swallow me,
May the Father Almighty blast me
Down to the shades of Erebus below
And Night profound, before I violate you,
O Modesty, and break your vows.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

I pray that the earth gape deep enough to take me down
or the almighty Father blast me with one bolt to the shades,
the pale, glimmering shades in hell, the pit of night,
before I dishonor you, my conscience, break your laws.
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 30ff]

Added on 14-Jun-22 | Last updated 14-Jun-22
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