The Metamorphoses of Ovid - Literally Translated into English Prose, with Copious Notes - and Explanations
by Publius Ovidius Naso
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"A festival of Venus, much celebrated throughout all Cyprus, had {now} come; and heifers, with snow-white necks, having their spreading horns tipped with gold, fell, struck {by the axe}. Frankincense, too, was smoking, when, having made his offering, Pygmalion stood before the altar, and timorously said, 'If ye Gods can grant all things, let my wife be, I pray,' {and} he did not dare to say 'this ivory maid,' {but} 'like to this {statue} of ivory.' The golden Venus, as she herself was present at her own festival, understood what that prayer meant; and as an omen of the Divinity being favourable, thrice was the flame kindled up, and it sent up a tapering flame into the air. Soon as he returned, he repaired to the image of his maiden, and, lying along the couch, he gave her kisses. She seems to grow warm. Again he applies his mouth; with his hands, too, he feels her breast. The pressed ivory becomes soft, and losing its hardness, yields to the fingers, and gives way, just as Hymettian wax[41] grows soft in the sun, and being worked with the fingers is turned into many shapes, and becomes pliable by the very handling. While he is amazed, and is rejoicing, {though} with apprehension, and is fearing that he is deceived; the lover again and again touches the object of his desires with his hand. It is a {real} body; the veins throb, when touched with the thumb.

"Then, indeed, the Paphian hero conceives {in his mind} the most lavish expressions, with which to give thanks to Venus, and at length presses lips, no {longer} fictitious, with his own lips. The maiden, too, feels the kisses given her, and blushes; and raising her timorous eyes towards the light {of day}, she sees at once her lover and the heavens. The Goddess was present at the marriage which she {thus} effected. And now, the horns of the moon having been nine times gathered into a full orb, she brought forth Paphos; from whom the island derived its name."

[Footnote 40: Bows from her breast.—Ver. 265. The 'Redimiculum' was a sort of fillet, or head band, worn by females. Passing over the shoulders, it hung on each side, over the breast. In the statues of Venus, it was often imitated in gold. Clarke translates it by the word 'solitaire.']

[Footnote 41: Hymettian wax.—Ver. 284. Hymettus was a mountain of Attica, much famed for its honey.]


The Pygmalion here mentioned must not be mistaken for the person of the same name, who was the brother of Dido, and king of Tyre. The story is most probably an allegory, which was based on the fact that Pygmalion being a man of virtuous principles, and disgusted with the vicious conduct of the women of Cyprus, took a great deal of care in training the mind and conduct of a young female, whom he kept at a distance from the contact of the prevailing vices; and whom, after having recovered her from the obdurate and rocky state to which the other females were reduced, he made his wife, and had a son by her named Paphos; who was said to have been the founder of the city of Cyprus, known by his name.

FABLE VIII. [X.298-518]

Myrrha, the daughter of Cinyras and Cenchris, having conceived an incestuous passion for her own father, and despairing of satisfying it, attempts to hang herself. Her nurse surprises her in the act, and prevents her death. Myrrha, after repeated entreaties and assurances of assistance, discloses to her the cause of her despair. The nurse, by means of a stratagem, procures her the object of her desires, which being discovered by her father, he pursues his daughter with the intention of killing her. Myrrha flies from her father's dominions and being delivered of Adonis, is transformed into a tree.

"Of him was that Cinyras sprung, who, if he had been without issue, might have been reckoned among the happy. Of horrible events shall I {now} sing. Daughters, be far hence; far hence be parents, {too}; or, if my verse shall charm your minds, let credit not be given to me in this part {of my song}, and do not believe that it happened; or, if you will believe, believe as well in the punishment of the deed.

"Yet, if Nature allows this crime to appear to have been committed, I congratulate the Ismarian matrons, and my own {division of the} globe. I congratulate this land, that it is afar from those regions which produced so great an abomination. Let the Panchaean land[42] be rich in amomum, and let it produce cinnamon, and its zedoary,[43] and frankincense distilling from its tree, and its other flowers, so long as it produces the myrrh-tree, as well. The new tree was not of so much worth {as to be a recompense for the crime to which it owed its origin}. Cupid himself denies, Myrrha, that it was his arrows that injured thee; and he defends his torches from that imputation; one of the three Sisters kindled {this flame} within thee, with a Stygian firebrand and with swelling vipers. It is a crime to hate a parent; {but} this love is a greater degree of wickedness than hatred. On every side worthy nobles are desiring thee {in marriage}, and throughout the whole East the youths come to the contest for thy bed. Choose out of all these one for thyself, Myrrha, so that, in all that number, there be not one person, {namely, thy father}.

"She, indeed, is sensible {of her criminality}, and struggles hard against her infamous passion, and says to herself, 'Whither am I being carried away by my feelings? What am I attempting? I beseech you, O ye Gods, and natural affection, and ye sacred ties of parents, forbid this guilt: defend me from a crime so great! if, indeed, this be a crime. But yet the ties of parent and child are said not to forbid this {kind of} union; and other animals couple with no distinction. It is not considered shameful for the heifer to mate with her sire; his own daughter becomes the mate of the horse; the he-goat, too, consorts with the flocks of which he is the father; and the bird conceives by him, from whose seed she herself was conceived. Happy they, to whom these things are allowed! The care of man has provided harsh laws, and what Nature permits, malignant ordinances forbid. {And} yet there are said to be nations[44] in which both the mother is united to the son, and the daughter to the father, and natural affection is increased by a twofold passion. Ah, wretched me! that it was not my chance to be born there, {and that} I am injured by my lot {being cast} in this place! {but} why do I ruminate on these things? Forbidden hopes, begone! He is deserving to be beloved, but as a father {only}. Were I not, therefore, the daughter of the great Cinyras, with Cinyras I might be united. Now, because he is so much mine, he is not mine, and his very nearness {of relationship} is my misfortune.

"'A stranger, I were more likely to succeed. I could wish to go far away hence, and to leave my native country, so I might {but} escape this crime. A fatal delusion detains me {thus} in love; that being present, I may look at Cinyras, and touch him, and talk with him, and give him kisses, if nothing more is allowed me. But canst thou hope for anything more, impious maid? and dost thou not perceive both how many laws, and {how many} names thou art confounding? Wilt thou be both the rival of thy mother, and the harlot of thy father? Wilt thou be called the sister of thy son, and the mother of thy brother? and wilt thou not dread the Sisters that have black snakes for their hair, whom guilty minds see threatening their eyes and their faces with their relentless torches? But do not thou conceive criminality in thy mind, so long as thou hast suffered none in body, and violate not the laws of all-powerful Nature by forbidden embraces. Suppose he were to be compliant, the action itself forbids {thee; but} he is virtuous, and regardful of what is right. And {yet}, O that there were a like infatuation in him!'

"{Thus} she says; but Cinyras, whom an honourable crowd of suitors is causing to be in doubt what he is to do, inquires of herself, as he repeats their names, of which husband she would wish {to be the wife}. At first she is silent; and, fixing her eyes upon her father's countenance, she is in confusion, and fills her eyes with the warm tears. Cinyras, supposing this to be {the effect} of virgin bashfulness, bids her not weep, and dries her cheeks, and gives her kisses. On these being given, Myrrha is too much delighted; and, being questioned what sort of a husband she would have, she says, 'One like thyself.' But he praises the answer not {really}[45] understood by him, and says, 'Ever be thus affectionate.' On mention being made of affection, the maiden, conscious of her guilt, fixed her eyes on the ground.

"It is {now} midnight, and sleep has dispelled the cares, and {has eased} the minds {of mortals}. But the virgin daughter of Cinyras, kept awake, is preyed upon by an unconquerable flame, and ruminates upon her wild desires. And one while she despairs, and at another she resolves to try; and is both ashamed, and {yet} is desirous, and is not certain what she is to do; and, just as a huge tree, wounded by the axe, when the last stroke {now} remains, is in doubt, {as it were}, on which side it is to fall, and is dreaded in each direction; so does her mind, shaken by varying passions, waver in uncertainty, this way and that, and receives an impulse in either direction; {and} no limit or repose is found for her love, but death: 'tis death that pleases her. She raises herself upright, and determines to insert her neck[46] in a halter; and tying her girdle to the top of the door-post, she says, 'Farewell, dear Cinyras, and understand the cause of my death;' and {then} fits the noose to her pale neck.

"They say that the sound of her words reached the attentive ears of her nurse,[47] as she was guarding the door of her foster-child. The old woman rises, and opens the door; and, seeing the instruments of the death she has contemplated, at the same moment she cries aloud, and smites herself, and rends her bosom, and snatching the girdle from her neck, tears it to pieces. {And} then, at last, she has time to weep, then to give her embraces, and to inquire into the occasion for the halter. The maid is silent, {as} {though} dumb, and, without moving, looks upon the earth; and {thus} detected, is sorry for her attempt at death in this slow manner. The old woman {still} urges her; and laying bare her grey hair, and her withered breasts, begs her, by her cradle and by her first nourishment, to entrust her with that which is causing her grief. She, turning from her as she asks, heaves a sigh. The nurse is determined to find it out, and not to promise her fidelity only. 'Tell me,' says she, 'and allow me to give thee assistance; my old age is not an inactive one. If it is a frantic passion, I have the means of curing it with charms and herbs; if any one has hurt thee by spells, by magic rites shalt thou be cured; or if it is the anger of the Gods, that anger can be appeased by sacrifice. What more {than these} can I think of? No doubt thy fortunes and thy family are prosperous, and in the way of continuing so; thy mother and thy father are {still} surviving.' Myrrha, on hearing her father's {name}, heaves a sigh from the bottom of her heart. Nor, even yet, does her nurse apprehend in her mind any unlawful passion; {and} still she has a presentiment that it is something {connected with} love. Persisting in her purpose, she entreats her, whatever it is, to disclose it to her, and takes her, as she weeps, in her aged lap; and so embracing her in her feeble arms, she says, 'Daughter, I understand it; thou art in love, and in this case (lay aside thy fears) my assiduity will be of service to thee; nor shall thy father ever be aware of it.'

"Furious, she sprang away from her bosom; and pressing the bed with her face, she said, 'Depart, I entreat thee, and spare my wretched shame.' Upon the other insisting, she said, 'Either depart, or cease to inquire why it is I grieve; that which thou art striving to know, is impious.' The old woman is struck with horror, and stretches forth her hands palsied both with years and with fear, and suppliantly falls before the feet of her foster-child. And one while she soothes her, sometimes she terrifies her {with the consequences}, if she is not made acquainted with it; and {then} she threatens her with the discovery of the halter, {and} of her attempted destruction, and promises her good offices, if the passion is confided to her. She lifts up her head, and fills the breast of her nurse with tears bursting forth; and often endeavouring to confess, as often does she check her voice; and she covers her blushing face with her garments, and says, 'O, mother, happy in thy husband!' Thus much {she says}; and {then} she sighs. A trembling shoots through the chilled limbs and the bones of her nurse, for she understands her; and her white hoariness stands bristling with stiff hair all over her head; and she adds many a word to drive away a passion so dreadful, if {only} she can. But the maiden is well aware that she is not advised to a false step; still she is resolved to die, if she does not enjoy him whom she loves. 'Live {then},' says {the nurse}, 'thou shalt enjoy thy——' and, not daring to say 'parent,' she is silent; and {then} she confirms her promise with an oath.

"The pious matrons were {now} celebrating the annual festival of Ceres,[48] on which, having their bodies clothed with snow-white robes, they offer garlands made of ears of corn, as the first fruits of the harvest; and for nine nights they reckon embraces, and the contact of a husband, among the things forbidden. Cenchreis, the king's wife, is absent in that company, and attends the mysterious rites. Therefore, while his bed is without his lawful wife, the nurse, wickedly industrious, having found Cinyras overcome with wine, discloses to him a real passion, {but} under a feigned name, and praises the beauty {of the damsel}. On his enquiring the age of the maiden, she says, 'She is of the same age as Myrrha.' After she is commanded to bring her, and as soon as she has returned home, she says, 'Rejoice, my fosterling, we have prevailed.' The unhappy maid does not feel joy throughout her entire body, and her boding breast is sad. And still she does rejoice: so great is the discord in her mind.

"'Twas the time when all things are silent, and Bootes had turned his wain with the pole obliquely directed among the Triones.[49] She approaches to {perpetrate} her enormity. The golden moon flies from the heavens; black clouds conceal the hiding stars; the night is deprived of its fires. Thou, Icarus, dost conceal thy rising countenance; and {thou}, Erigone, raised to the heavens through thy affectionate love for thy father. Three times was she recalled by the presage of her foot stumbling; thrice did the funereal owl give an omen by its dismal cry. Yet {onward} she goes, and the gloom and the dark night lessen her shame. In her left hand she holds that of her nurse, the other, by groping, explores the secret road. {And} now she is arrived at the door of the chamber; and now she opens the door; now she is led in; but her knees tremble beneath her sinking hams, her colour and her blood vanish; and her courage deserts her as she moves along. The nearer she is to {the commission of} her crime, the more she dreads it, and she repents of her attempt, and could wish to be able to return unknown. The old woman leads her on by the hand as she lingers, and when she has delivered her up on her approach to the lofty bed, she says, 'Take her, Cinyras, she is thy own,' and {so} unites their doomed bodies. The father receives his own bowels into the polluted bed, and allays her virgin fears, and encourages her as she trembles. Perhaps, too, he may have called her by a name {suited to} her age, and she may have called him 'father,' that the {appropriate} names might not be wanting in this deed of horror. Pregnant by her father, she departs from the chamber, and, in her impiety, bears his seed in her incestuous womb, and carries {with her}, criminality in her conception. The ensuing night repeats the guilty deed; nor on that {night} is there an end. At last, Cinyras, after so many embraces, longing to know who is his paramour, on lights being brought in, discovers both the crime and his own daughter.

"His words checked through grief, he draws his shining sword from the scabbard as it hangs. Myrrha flies, rescued from death by the gloom and the favour of a dark night; and wandering along the wide fields, she leaves the Arabians famed for their palms, and the Panchaean fields. And she wanders during nine horns of the returning moon; when, at length, being weary, she rests in the Sabaean country,[50] and with difficulty she supports the burden of her womb. Then, uncertain what to wish, and between the fear of death and weariness of life, she uttered such a prayer {as this}: 'O ye Deities, if any of you favour those who are penitent; I have deserved severe punishment, and I do not shrink from it. But that, neither existing, I may pollute the living, nor dead, those who are departed, expel me from both these realms; and transforming me, deny me both life and death.' {Some} Divinity {ever} regards the penitent; at least, the last of her prayers found its Gods {to execute it}. For the earth closes over her legs as she speaks, and a root shoots forth obliquely through her bursting nails, {as} a firm support to her tall trunk. Her bones, too, become hard wood, and her marrow continuing in the middle, her blood changes into sap, her arms into great branches, her fingers into smaller ones; her skin grows hard with bark. And now the growing tree has run over her heavy womb, and has covered her breast, and is ready to enclose her neck. She cannot endure delay, and sinks down to meet the approaching wood, and hides her features within the bark. Though she has lost her former senses together with her {human} shape, she still weeps on, and warm drops distil[51] from the tree. There is a value even in her tears, and the myrrh distilling from the bark, retains the name of its mistress, and will be unheard-of in no {future} age.

"But the infant conceived in guilt grows beneath the wood, and seeks out a passage, by which he may extricate himself, having left his mother. Her pregnant womb swells in the middle of the tree. The burden distends the mother, nor have her pangs words of their own {whereby to express themselves}; nor can Lucina be invoked by her voice {while} bringing forth. Yet she is like one struggling {to be delivered}; and the bending tree utters frequent groans, and is moistened with falling tears. Gentle Lucina stands by the moaning boughs, and applies her hands, and utters words that promote delivery. The tree gapes open, in chinks, and through the cleft bark it discharges the living burden. The child cries; the Naiads, laying him on the soft grass, anoint him with the tears of his mother.

"Even Envy {herself} would have commended his face; for just as the bodies of naked Cupids are painted in a picture, such was he. But that their dress may not make any difference, either give to him or take away from them, the polished quivers."

[Footnote 42: The Panchaean land.—Ver. 309. Panchaea was a region of Arabia Felix, abounding in the choicest wines and frankincense. Here, the Phoenix was said to find the materials for making its nest.]

[Footnote 43: Its zedoary.—Ver. 308. 'Costus,' or 'costum,' was an Indian shrub, which yielded a fragrant ointment, much esteemed by the ancients. Clarke translates it 'Coysts,' a word apparently of his own coining.]

[Footnote 44: Said to be nations.—Ver. 331. We do not read of any such nations, except the fabulous Troglodytes of Ethiopia, who were supposed to live promiscuously, like the brutes. Attica, king of the Huns, long after Ovid's time, married his own daughter, amid the rejoicings of his subjects.]

[Footnote 45: Not really.—Ver. 365. That is to say, not understood by him in the sense in which Myrrha meant it.]

[Footnote 46: To insert her neck.—Ver. 378. 'Laqueoque innectere fauces Destinat,' is translated by Clarke, 'And resolves to stitch up her neck in a halter.']

[Footnote 47: Of her nurse.—Ver. 382. Antoninus Liberalis gives this hag the name of Hippolyte.]

[Footnote 48: Festival of Ceres.—Ver. 431. Commentators, in general, suppose that he here alludes to the festival of the Thesmophoria, which was celebrated in honour of Demeter, or Ceres, in various parts of Greece; in general, by the married women, though the virgins joined in some of the ceremonies. Demosthenes, Diodorus Siculus, and Plutarch, say that it was first celebrated by Orpheus; while Herodotus states, that it was introduced from Egypt by the daughters of Danaues; and that, after the Dorian conquest, it fell into disuse, being retained only by the people of Arcadia. It was intended to commemorate the introduction of laws and the regulations of civilized life, which were generally ascribed to Demeter. It is not known whether the festival lasted four or five days with the Athenians. Many days were spent by the matrons in preparing for its celebration. The solemnity was commenced by the women walking in procession from Athens to Eleusis. In this procession they carried on their heads representations of the laws which had been introduced by Ceres, and other symbols of civilized life. They then spent the night at Eleusis, in celebrating the mysteries of the Goddess. The second day was one of mourning, during which the women sat on the ground around the statues of Ceres, taking no food but cakes made of sesame and honey. On it no meetings of the people were held. Probably it was in the afternoon of this day that there was a procession at Athens, in which the women walked bare-footed behind a waggon, upon which were baskets, with sacred symbols. The third day was one of merriment and festivity among the women, in commemoration of Iaembe, who was said to have amused the Goddess during her grief at the loss of Proserpine. An atoning sacrifice, called zemia, was probably offered to the Goddess, at the end of this day. It is most probable that the ceremonial lasted but three days. The women wore white dresses during the period of its performance, and they adopted the same colour during the celebration of the Cerealia at Rome. Burmann thinks, that an Eastern festival, in honour of Ceres, is here referred to. If so, no accounts of it whatever have come down to us.]

[Footnote 49: Among the Triones.—Ver. 446. 'Triones'. This word, which is applied to the stars of the Ursa Major, or Charles's Wain, literally means 'oxen;' and is by some thought to come from 'tero,' 'to bruise,' because oxen were used for the purpose of threshing corn; but it is more likely to have its origin from 'terra,' 'the earth,' because oxen were used for ploughing. The Poet employs this periphrasis, to signify the middle of the night.]

[Footnote 50: Sabaean country.—Ver. 480. Sabaea, or Saba, was a region of Arabia Felix, now called 'Yemen.' It was famed for its myrrh, frankincense, and spices. In the Scriptures it is called Sheba, and it was the queen of this region, who came to listen to the wisdom of Solomon.]

[Footnote 51: Warm drops distil.—Ver. 500. He alludes to the manner in which frankincense is produced, it exuding from the bark of the tree in drops; this gum, Pliny the Elder and Lucretius call by the name of 'stacta,' or 'stacte.' The ancients flavoured their wines with myrrh.]


Le Clerc, forming his ideas on what Lucian, Phurnutus, and other authors have said on the subject, explains the story of Cinyras and Myrrha in the following manner. Cynnor, or Cinyras, the grandfather of Adonis, having one day drank to excess, fell asleep in a posture which violated the rules of decency. Mor, or Myrrha, his daughter-in-law, the wife of Ammon, together with her son Adonis, seeing him in that condition, acquainted her husband with her father's lapse. On his repeating this to Cinyras, the latter was so full of indignation, that he loaded Myrrha and Adonis with imprecations.

Loaded with the execrations of her father, Myrrha retired into Arabia, where she remained some time; and because Adonis passed some portion of his youth there, the poets feigned that Myrrha was delivered of him in that country. Her transformation into a tree was only invented on account of the equivocal character of her name, 'Mor,' which meant in the Arabic language 'Myrrh.' It is very probable that the story was founded on a tradition among the Phoenicians of the history of Noah, and of the malediction which Ham drew on himself by his undutiful conduct towards his father.

FABLE IX. [X.519-707]

Adonis is educated by the Naiads. His beauty makes a strong impression on the Goddess Venus, and, in her passion, she traverses the same wilds in pursuit of the youth, which his mother did, when flying from the wrath of her father. After chasing the wild beasts, she invites Adonis to a poplar shade, where she warns him of his danger in hunting lions, wild boars, and such formidable animals. On this occasion, too, she relates the adventures of Hippomenes and Atalanta. The beauty of the latter was such, that her charms daily attracted crowds of suitors. Having consulted the oracle, whether she shall marry, she is answered that a husband will certainly prove her destruction. On this, to avoid marrying, she makes it a rule to offer to run with her suitors, promising that she herself will be the prize of the victor, but only on condition that immediate death shall be the fate of those who are vanquished by her. As she excels in running, her design succeeds, and several suitors die in the attempt to win her. Hippomenes, smitten with her charms, is not daunted at their ill success; but boldly enters the lists, after imploring the aid of Venus. Atalanta is struck with his beauty, and is much embarrassed, whether she shall yield to the charms of the youth, or to the dissuasions of the oracle. Hippomenes attracts her attention in the race, by throwing down some golden apples which Venus has given him, and then, reaching the goal before her, he carries off the reward of victory. Venus, to punish his subsequent ingratitude towards her, raises his desires to such a pitch, that he incurs the resentment of Cybele, by defiling her shrine with the embraces of his mistress; on which they are both transformed into lions, and thenceforth draw the chariot of the Goddess.

"Winged time glides on insensibly and deceives us; and there is nothing more fleeting than years. He, born of his own sister and of his grandfather, who, so lately enclosed in a tree, was so lately born, and but just now a most beauteous infant, is now a youth, now a man, {and} now more beauteous than he {was before}. {And} now he pleases even Venus,[52] and revenges the flames of his mother, {kindled by her}. For, while the boy that wears the quiver is giving kisses to his mother, he unconsciously grazes her breast with a protruding arrow. The Goddess, wounded, pushed away her son with her hand. The wound was inflicted more deeply than it seemed to be, and at first had deceived {even} herself. Charmed with the beauty of the youth, she does not now care for the Cytherian shores, nor does she revisit Paphos, surrounded with the deep sea, and Cnidos,[53] abounding in fish, or Amathus, rich in metals.

"She abandons even the skies; him she {ever} attends; and she who has been always accustomed to indulge in the shade, and to improve her beauty, by taking care of it, wanders over the tops of mountains, through the woods, and over bushy rocks, bare to the knee and with her robes tucked up after the manner of Diana, and she cheers on the dogs, and hunts animals that are harmless prey, either the fleet hares, or the stag with its lofty horns, or the hinds; she keeps afar from the fierce boars, and avoids the ravening wolves, and the bears armed with claws, and the lions glutted with the slaughter of the herds. Thee, too, Adonis, she counsels to fear them, if she can aught avail by advising thee. And she says, "Be brave against those {animals} that fly; boldness is not safe against those that are bold. Forbear, youth, to be rash at my hazard, and attack not the wild beasts to which nature has granted arms, lest thy {thirst for} glory should cost me dear. Neither thy age, nor thy beauty, nor {other} things which have made an impression on Venus, make any impression on lions and bristly boars, and the eyes and the tempers of wild beasts. The fierce boars carry lightning[54] in their curving tusks; there is rage and fury unlimited in the tawny lions; and the {whole} race is odious to me."

"Upon his asking, what is the reason, she says, 'I will tell thee, and thou wilt be surprised at the prodigious result of a fault long since committed. But {this} toil to which I am unaccustomed has now fatigued me, and see! a convenient poplar invites us, by its shade, and the turf furnishes a couch. Here I am desirous to repose myself, together with thee;' and {forthwith} she rests herself on the ground, and presses at once the grass and himself. And with her neck reclining on the bosom of the youth, smiling, she thus says, and she mingles kisses in the midst of her words:—

"Perhaps thou mayst have heard how a certain damsel excelled the swiftest men in the contest of speed. That report was no idle tale; for she did excel them. Nor couldst thou have said, whether she was more distinguished in the merit of her swiftness, or in the excellence of her beauty. Upon her consulting the oracle about a husband, the God said to her, 'Thou hast no need, Atalanta, of a husband; avoid obtaining a husband. And yet thou wilt not avoid it, and, while {still} living, thou wilt lose thyself.' Alarmed with the response of the God, she lives a single life in the shady woods, and determinedly repulses the pressing multitude of her suitors with these conditions. 'I am not,' says she, 'to be gained, unless first surpassed in speed. Engage with me in running. Both a wife and a wedding shall be given as the reward of the swift; death {shall be} the recompense of the slow. Let that be the condition of the contest.' She, indeed, was cruel {in this proposal}; but (so great is the power of beauty) a rash multitude of suitors agreed to these terms. Hippomenes had sat, as a spectator, of this unreasonable race, and said, 'Is a wife sought by any one, amid dangers so great?' And {thus} he condemned the excessive ardour of the youths. {But} when he beheld her face, and her body with her clothes laid aside, such as mine is, or such as thine would be, {Adonis}, if thou wast to become a woman, he was astonished, and raising his hands, he said, 'Pardon me, ye whom I was just now censuring; the reward which you contended for was not yet known to me.'

"In commending her, he kindles the flame, and wishes that none of the young men may run more swiftly than she, and, in his envy, is apprehensive of it. 'But why,' says he, 'is my chance in this contest left untried? The Divinity himself assists the daring.' While Hippomenes is pondering such things within himself, the virgin flies with winged pace. Although she appears to the Aonian youth to go no less swiftly than the Scythian arrow, he admires her still more in her beauty, and the very speed makes her beauteous. The breeze that meets her bears back her pinions on her swift feet, and her hair is thrown over her ivory shoulders and the leggings which are below her knees with their variegated border, and upon her virgin whiteness her body has contracted a blush; no otherwise than as when purple hangings[55] over a whitened hall tint it with a shade of a similar colour. While the stranger is observing these things, the last course is run,[56] and the victorious Atalanta is adorned with a festive crown. The vanquished utter sighs, and pay the penalty, according to the stipulation. Still, not awed by the end of these young men, he stands up in the midst; and fixing his eyes on the maiden, he says, 'Why dost thou seek an easy victory by conquering the inactive? Contend {now} with me. If fortune shall render me victorious, thou wilt not take it ill to be conquered by one so illustrious. For my father was Megareus, Onchestius his;[57] Neptune was his grandsire; I am the great grandson of the king of the waves. Nor is my merit inferior to my extraction. Or if I shall be conquered, in the conquest of Hippomenes thou wilt have a great and honourable name.'

"As he utters such words as these, the daughter of Schoeneus regards him with a benign countenance, and is in doubt whether she shall wish to be overcome or to conquer; and thus she says: 'What Deity, a foe to the beauteous, wishes to undo this {youth}? and commands him, at the risk of a life {so} dear, to seek this alliance? In my own opinion, I am not of so great value. Nor {yet} am I moved by his beauty. Still, by this, too, I could be moved. But, {'tis} because he is still a boy; 'tis not himself that affects me, but his age. And is it not, too, because he has courage and a mind undismayed by death? And is it not, besides, because he is reckoned fourth in descent from the {monarch} of the sea? And is it not, because he loves me, and thinks a marriage with me of so much worth as to perish {for it}, if cruel fortune should deny me to him? Stranger, while {still} thou mayst, begone, and abandon an alliance stained with blood. A match with me is cruelly hazardous. No woman will be unwilling to be married to thee; and thou mayst be desired {even} by a prudent maid. But why have I any concern for thee, when so many have already perished? Let him look to it; {and} let him die, since he is not warned by the fate of so many of my wooers, and is impelled onwards to weariness of life.

"'Shall he then die because he was desirous with me to live? And shall he suffer an undeserved death, the reward of his love? My victory will not be able to support the odium {of the deed}. But it is no fault of mine. I wish thou wouldst desist! or since thou art {thus} mad, would that thou wast more fleet {than I!} But what a feminine look[58] there is in his youthful face! Ah, wretched Hippomenes, I would that I had not been seen by thee! Thou wast worthy to have lived! And if I had been more fortunate; and if the vexatious Divinities had not denied me {the blessings of} marriage, thou wast one with whom I could have shared my bed.' Thus she said; and as one inexperienced, and smitten by Cupid for the first time, not knowing what she is doing, she is in love, and {yet} does not know that she is in love.

"{And} now, both the people and her father, demanded the usual race, when Hippomenes, the descendant of Neptune, invoked me with anxious voice; 'I entreat that Cytherea may favour my undertaking, and aid the passion that she has inspired {in me}.' The breeze, not envious, wafted to me this tender prayer; I was moved, I confess it; nor was any long delay made in {giving} aid. There is a field, the natives call it by name the Tamasenian {field},[59] the choicest spot in the Cyprian land; this the elders of former days consecrated to me, and ordered to be added as an endowment for my temple. In the middle of this field a tree flourishes, with yellow foliage, {and} with branches tinkling with yellow gold. Hence, by chance as I was coming, I carried three golden apples, that I had plucked, in my hand; and being visible to none but him, I approached Hippomenes, and I showed him what {was to be} the use of them. The trumpets have {now} given the signal, when each {of them} darts precipitately from the starting place, and skims the surface of the sand with nimble feet. You might have thought them able to pace the sea with dry feet, and to run along the ears of white standing corn {while} erect. The shouts and the applause of the populace give courage to the youth, and the words of those who exclaim, 'Now, now, Hippomenes, is the moment to speed onward! make haste. Now use all thy strength! Away with delay! thou shalt be conqueror.' It is doubtful whether the Megarean hero, or the virgin daughter of Schoeneus rejoiced the most at these sayings. O how often when she could have passed by him, did she slacken her speed, and {then} unwillingly left behind the features that long she had gazed upon.

"A parched panting is coming from his faint mouth, and the goal is {still} a great way off. Then, at length, the descendant of Neptune throws one of the three products of the tree. The virgin is amazed, and from a desire for the shining fruit, she turns from her course, and picks up the rolling gold. Hippomenes passes her. The theatres ring[60] with applause. She makes amends for her delay, and the time that she has lost, with a swift pace, and again she leaves the youth behind. And, retarded by the throwing of a second apple, again she overtakes the {young} man, and passes by him. The last part of the race {now} remained. '{And} now,' said he, 'O Goddess, giver of this present, aid me;' and {then} with youthful might, he threw the shining gold, in an oblique direction, on one side of the plain, in order that she might return the more slowly. The maiden seemed to be in doubt, whether she should fetch it; I forced her to take it up, and added weight to the apple, when she had taken it up, and I impeded her, both by the heaviness of the burden, and the delay in reaching it. And that my narrative may not be more tedious than that race, the virgin was outrun, and the conqueror obtained the prize.

"And was I not, Adonis, deserving that he should return thanks to me, and the tribute of frankincense? but, in his ingratitude, he gave me neither thanks nor frankincense. I was thrown into a sudden passion; and provoked at being slighted, I provided by {making} an example, that I should not be despised in future times, and I aroused myself against them both. They were passing by a temple, concealed within a shady wood, which the famous Echion had formerly built for the Mother of the Gods, according to his vow; and the length of their journey moved them to take rest {there}. There, an unseasonable desire of caressing {his wife} seized Hippomenes, excited by my agency. Near the temple was a recess, with {but} little light, like a cave, covered with native pumice stone, {one} sacred from ancient religious observance; where the priest had conveyed many a wooden image of the ancient Gods. This he entered, and he defiled the sanctuary by a forbidden crime. The sacred images turned away their eyes, and the Mother {of the Gods}, crowned with turrets,[61] was in doubt whether she should plunge these guilty ones in the Stygian stream. That seemed {too} light a punishment. Wherefore yellow manes cover their necks so lately smooth; their fingers are bent into claws, of their shoulders are made fore-legs;[62] their whole weight passes into their breasts. The surface of the sand is swept by their tails.[63] Their look has anger {in it}; instead of words they utter growls; instead of chambers they haunt the woods; and dreadful to others, {as} lions, they champ the bits of Cybele with subdued jaws. Do thou, beloved by me, avoid these, and together with these, all kinds of wild beasts which turn not their backs in flight, but their breasts to the fight; lest thy courage should be fatal to us both."

[Footnote 52: Pleases even Venus.—Ver. 524. According to Apollodorus, Venus had caused Myrrha to imbibe her infamous passion, because she had treated the worship of that Goddess with contempt.]

[Footnote 53: Cnidos.—Ver. 531. This was a city of Caria, situate on a promontory. Strangers resorted thither, to behold a statue of Venus there, which was made by Praxiteles.]

[Footnote 54: Carry lightning.—Ver. 551. The lightning shock seems to be attributed to the wild boar, from the vehemence with which he strikes down every impediment in his way.]

[Footnote 55: Purple hangings.—Ver. 595. Curtains, or hangings, called 'aulaea,' were used by the ancients to ornament their halls, sitting rooms, and bed chambers. In private houses they were also sometimes hung as coverings over doors, and in the interior, as substitutes for them. In the palace of the Roman emperors, a slave, called 'velarius,' was posted at each of the principal doors, to raise the curtain when any one passed through. Window curtains were also used by the Romans, while they were employed in the temples, to veil the statue of the Divinity. Ovid here speaks of them as being of purple colour; while Lucretius mentions them as being of yellow, red, and rusty hue.]

[Footnote 56: Last course is run.—Ver. 597. Among the Romans, the race consisted of seven rounds of the Circus, or rather circuits of the 'spina,' or wall, in the midst of it, at each end of which was the 'meta,' or goal. Livy and Dio Cassius speak of seven conical balls, resembling eggs, which were called 'ova,' and were placed upon the 'spina.' Their use was to enable the spectators to count the number of rounds which had been run, for which reason they were seven in number; and as each round was run, one of the 'ova' was put up, or, according to Varro, taken down. The form of the egg was adopted in honour of Castor and Pollux, who were said to have been produced from eggs. The words 'novissima meta' here mean either 'the last part of the course,' or, possibly, 'the last time round the course.']

[Footnote 57: Onchestius his.—Ver. 605. But Hyginus says that Neptune was the father of Megareus, or Macareus, as the Scholiast of Sophocles calls him. Neptune being the father of Onchestius, Hippomenes was the fourth from Neptune, inclusively. Onchestius founded a city of that name in Boeotia, in honour of Neptune, who had a temple there; in the time of Pausanias the place was in ruins. That author tells us that Megareus aided Nisus against Minos, and was slain in that war.]

[Footnote 58: A feminine look.—Ver. 631. Clarke renders this line— 'But what a lady-like countenance there is in his boyish face!']

[Footnote 59: Tamasenian field.—Ver. 644. Tamasis, or Tamaseus, is mentioned by Pliny as a city of Cyprus.]

[Footnote 60: The theatres ring.—Ver. 668. 'Spectacula' may mean either the seats, or benches, on which the spectators sat, or an amphitheatre. The former is most probably the meaning in the present instance.]

[Footnote 61: Crowned with turrets.—Ver. 696. Cybele, the Goddess of the Earth, was usually represented as crowned with turrets, and drawn in a chariot by lions.]

[Footnote 62: Are made fore-legs.—Ver. 700. 'Armus' is generally the shoulder of a brute; while 'humerus' is that of a man. 'Armus' is sometimes used to signify the human shoulder.]

[Footnote 63: By their tails.—Ver. 701. Pliny the Elder remarks that the temper of the lion is signified by his tail, in the same way as that of the horse by his ears. When in motion, it shows that he is angry; when quiet, that he is in a good temper.]


The Atalanta who is mentioned in this story was the daughter of Schoeneus, and the granddaughter of Athamas, whose misfortunes obliged him to retire into Boeotia, where he built a little town, which was called after his name, as we learn from Pausanias and Eustathius. Ovid omits to say that it was one of the conditions of the agreement, that the lover was to have the start in the race. According to some writers, the golden apples were from the gardens of the Hesperides; while, according to others, they were plucked by Venus in the isle of Cyprus. The story seems to be founded merely on the fact, that Hippomenes contrived by means of bribes to find the way to the favour of his mistress.

Apollodorus, however, relates the story in a different manner; he says that the father of Atalanta desiring to have sons, but no daughters, exposed her, on her birth, in a desert, that she might perish. A she-bear found the infant, and nourished it, until it was discovered by some hunters. As the damsel grew up, she made hunting her favourite pursuit, and slew two Centaurs, who offered her violence, with her arrows. On her parents pressing her to marry, she consented to be the wife of that man only who could outrun her, on condition that those who were conquered by her in the race should be put to death. Several of her suitors having failed in the attempt, one of the name of Melanion, by using a similar stratagem to that attributed by Ovid to Hippomenes, conquered her in the race, and became her husband. Having profaned the temple of Jupiter, they were transformed, Melanion into a lion, and Atalanta into a lioness. According to Apollodorus, her father's name was Iasius, though in his first book he says she was the daughter of Schoeneus. He also says that she was the same person that was present at the hunt of the Calydonian boar, though other writers represent them to have been different personages. Euripides makes Maenalus to have been the name of her father.

Atalanta had by Melanion, or, as some authors say, by Mars, a son named Parthenopaeus, who was present at the Theban war. AElian gives a long account of her history, which does not very much differ from the narrative of Apollodorus.

FABLE X. [X.708-739]

Adonis being too ardent in the pursuit of a wild boar, the beast kills him, on which Venus changes his blood into a flower of crimson colour.

"She, indeed, {thus} warned him; and, harnessing her swans, winged her way through the air; but his courage stood in opposition to her advice. By chance, his dogs having followed its sure track, roused a boar, and the son of Cinyras pierced him, endeavouring to escape from the wood, with a wound from the side. Immediately the fierce boar, with his crooked snout, struck out the hunting-spear, stained with his blood, and {then} pursued him, trembling and seeking a safe retreat, and lodged his entire tusks in his groin, and stretched him expiring on the yellow sand.

"Cytherea, borne in her light chariot[64] through the middle of the air, had not yet arrived at Cyprus upon the wings of her swans. She recognized afar his groans, as he was dying, and turned her white birds in that direction. And when, from the lofty sky, she beheld him half dead, and bathing his body in his own blood, she rapidly descended, and rent both her garments and her hair, and she smote her breast with her distracted hands. And complaining of the Fates, she says, 'But, however, all things shall not be in your power; the memorials of my sorrow, Adonis, shall ever remain; and the representation of thy death, repeated yearly, shall exhibit an imitation of my mourning. But thy blood shall be changed into a flower. Was it formerly allowed thee, Persephone, to change the limbs[65] of a female into fragrant mint; and shall the hero, the son of Cinyras, {if} changed, be a cause of displeasure against me?' Having thus said, she sprinkles his blood with odoriferous nectar, which, touched by it, effervesces, just as the transparent bubbles are wont to rise in rainy weather. Nor was there a pause longer than a full hour, when a flower sprang up from the blood, of the same colour {with it}, such as the pomegranates are wont to bear, which conceal their seeds beneath their tough rind. Yet the enjoyment of it is but short-lived; for the same winds[66] which give it a name, beat it down, as it has but a slender hold, and is apt to fall by reason of its extreme slenderness."

[Footnote 64: In her light chariot.—Ver. 717. 'Vecta levi curru Cytherea,' Clarke quaintly renders, 'The Cytherean Goddess riding in her light chair.']

[Footnote 65: To change the limbs.—Ver. 729. Proserpine was said to have changed the Nymph, 'Mentha,' into a plant of that name, which we call 'mint.' Some writers say that she found her intriguing with Pluto while, according to other writers, she was the mistress of Pollux.]

[Footnote 66: The same winds.—Ver. 739. The flower which sprang from the blood of Adonis was the anemone, or wind-flower, of which Pliny the Elder says— 'This flower never opens but when the wind is blowing, from which too, it receives its name, as anemos means the wind.' —(Book i. c. 23).]


Theocritus, Bion, Hyginus, and Antoninus Liberalis, beside several other authors, relate the history of the loves of Venus and Adonis. They inform us of many particulars which Ovid has here neglected to remark. They say that Mars, jealous of the passion which Venus had for Adonis, implored the aid of Diana, who, to gratify his revenge, sent the boar that destroyed the youth. According to some writers, it was Apollo himself that took the form of that animal; and they say that Adonis descending to the Infernal Regions, Proserpine fell in love with him, and refused to allow him to return, notwithstanding the orders of Jupiter. On this, the king of heaven fearing to displease both the Goddesses, referred the dispute to the Muse Calliope, who directed that Adonis should pass one half of his time with Venus on earth, and the other half in the Infernal Regions. They also tell us that it took up a year before the dispute could be determined, and that the Hours brought Adonis at last to the upper world, on which, Venus being dissatisfied with the decision of Calliope, instigated the women of Thrace to kill her son Orpheus.

The mythologists have considered this story to be based on grounds either historical or physical. Cicero, in his Discourse on the Nature of the Gods, says, that there were several persons who had the name of Venus, and that the fourth, surnamed Astarte, was a Syrian, who married Adonis, the son of Cinyras, king of Cyprus. Hunting in the forests of Mount Libanus, or Lebanon, he was wounded in the groin by a wild boar, which accident ultimately caused his death. Astarte caused the city of Byblos and all Syria to mourn for his loss; and, to keep his name and his sad fate in remembrance, established feasts in his honour, to be celebrated each year. Going still further, if we suppose the story to have originated in historical facts, it seems not improbable that Adonis did not die of his wound, and that, contrary to all expectation, he was cured; as the Syrians, after having mourned for several days during his festival, rejoiced as though he had been raised from the dead, at a second festival called 'The Return.' The worship both of Venus and Adonis probably originated in Syria, and was spread through Asia Minor into Greece; while the Carthaginians, a Phoenician colony introduced it into Sicily. The festival of Adonis is most amusingly described by Theocritus the Sicilian poet, in his 'Adoniazusae.' Some authors have suggested that Adonis was the same with the Egyptian God Osiris, and that the affliction of Venus represented that of Isis at the death of her husband. According to Hesiod, Adonis was the son of Phoenix and Alphesiboea, while Panyasis says that he was son of Theias, the king of the Assyrians.

In support of the view which some commentators take of the story of Adonis having been founded on physical circumstance, we cannot do better than quote the able remarks of Mr. Keightley on the subject. He says (Mythology of Ancient Greece and Italy, p. 109)— "The tale of Adonis is apparently an Eastern mythus. His very name is Semitic (Hebrew 'Adon,' 'Lord'), and those of his parents also refer to that part of the world. He appears to be the same with the Thammuz, mentioned by the prophet Ezekiel, and to be a Phoenician personification of the sun who, during a part of the year is absent, or, as the legend expresses it, with the Goddess of the under world: during the remainder with Astarte, the regent of heaven. It is uncertain when the Adonia were first celebrated in Greece; but we find Plato alluding to the gardens of Adonis, as boxes of flowers used in them were called; and the ill fortune of the Athenian expedition to Sicily was in part ascribed to the circumstance of the fleet having sailed during that festival."

This notion of the mourning for Adonis being a testimony of grief for the absence of the Sun during the winter, is not, however, to be too readily acquiesced in. Lobeck (Aglaophamus, p. 691), for example, asks, with some appearance of reason, why those nations whose heaven was mildest, and their winter shortest, should so bitterly bewail the regular changes of the seasons, as to feign that the Gods themselves were carried off or slain; and he shrewdly observes, that, in that case, the mournful and the joyful parts of the festival should have been held at different times of the year, and not joined together, as they were. He further inquires, whether the ancient writers, who esteemed these Gods to be so little superior to men, may not have believed them to have been really and not metaphorically put to death? And, in truth, it is not easy to give a satisfactory answer to these questions.


FABLE I. [XI.1-84]

While Orpheus is singing to his lyre on Mount Rhodope, the women of Thrace celebrate their orgies. During that ceremony they take advantage of the opportunity to punish Orpheus for his indifference towards their sex; and, in the fury inspired by their rites, they beat him to death. His head and lyre are carried by the stream of the river Hebrus into the sea, and are cast on shore on the isle of Lesbos. A serpent, about to attack the head when thrown on shore, is changed into a stone, and the Bacchanals who have killed him are transformed into trees.

While with songs such as these, the Thracian poet is leading the woods and the natures of savage beasts, and the following rocks, lo! the matrons of the Ciconians, having their raving breasts covered with the skins of wild beasts, from the summit of a hill, espy Orpheus adapting his voice to the sounded strings {of his harp}. One of these, tossing her hair along the light breeze, says, "See! see! here is our contemner!" and hurls her spear at the melodious mouth of the bard of Apollo: {but}, being wreathed at the end with leaves, it makes a mark without any wound. The weapon of another is a stone, which, when thrown, is overpowered in the very air by the harmony of his voice and his lyre, and lies before his feet, a suppliant, as it were, for an attempt so daring.

But still this rash warfare increases, and {all} moderation departs, and direful fury reigns {triumphant}. And {yet} all their weapons would have been conquered by his music; but the vast clamour, and the Berecynthian pipe[1] with the blown horns, and the tambourines, and the clapping of hands, and Bacchanalian yells, prevented the sound of the lyre from being heard. Then, at last, the stones became red with the blood of the bard, {now} no longer heard. But first the Maenades lay hands on innumerable birds, even yet charmed with his voice as he sang, and serpents, and a throng of wild beasts, the glory of {this} audience of Orpheus; and after that, they turn upon Orpheus with blood-stained right hands; and they flock together, as the birds, if at any time they see the bird of night strolling about by day; {and} as when the stag that is doomed to die[2] in the morning sand in the raised amphitheatre is a prey to the dogs; they both attack the bard, and hurl the thyrsi, covered with green leaves, not made for such purposes as these. Some throw clods, some branches torn from trees, others flint stones. And that weapons may not be wanting for their fury, by chance some oxen are turning up the earth with the depressed ploughshare; and not far from thence, some strong-armed peasants, providing the harvest with plenteous sweat, are digging the hard fields; they, seeing this {frantic} troop, run away, and leave the implements of their labour; and there lie, dispersed throughout the deserted fields, harrows and heavy rakes, and long spades.

After they, in their rage, have seized upon these, and have torn to pieces the oxen with their threatening horns, they return to the destruction of the bard; and they impiously murder him, extending his hands, and then for the first time uttering words in vain, and making no effect on them with his voice. And (Oh Jupiter!) through those lips listened to by rocks, and understood by the senses of wild beasts, his life breathed forth, departs into the breezes.[3] The mournful birds, the crowd of wild beasts, the hard stones, the woods that oft had followed thy song bewailed thee. Trees, {too}, shedding their foliage, mourned thee, losing their leaves. They say, too, that rivers swelled with their own tears; and the Naiads and Dryads had mourning garments of dark colour, and dishevelled hair. The limbs lie scattered[4] in various places. Thou, Hebrus, dost receive the head and the lyre; and (wondrous {to relate}!) while it rolls down the midst of the stream, the lyre complains in I know not what kind of mournful strain. His lifeless tongue, {too}, utters a mournful sound, {to which} the banks mournfully reply. And now, borne onward to the sea, they leave their native stream, and reach the shores of Methymnaean Lesbos.[5] Here an infuriated serpent attacks the head thrown up on the foreign sands, and the hair besprinkled with the oozing blood. At last Phoebus comes to its aid, and drives it away as it tries to inflict its sting, and hardens the open jaws of the serpent into stone, and makes solid its gaping mouth just as it is. His ghost descends under the earth, and he recognizes all the spots which he has formerly seen; and seeking Eurydice through the fields of the blessed, he finds her, and enfolds her in his eager arms. Here, one while, they walk together side by side,[6] and at another time he follows her as she goes before, and {again} at another time, walking in front, precedes her; and now, in safety, Orpheus looks back upon his own Eurydice.

Yet Lyaeus did not suffer this wickedness to go unpunished; and grieving for the loss of the bard of his sacred rites, he immediately fastened down in the woods, by a twisting root, all the Edonian matrons who had committed this crime. For he drew out the toes of her feet, just as each one had pursued him, and thrust them by their sharp points into the solid earth. And, as when a bird has entangled its leg in a snare, which the cunning fowler has concealed, and perceives that it is held fast, it beats its wings, and, fluttering, tightens the noose with its struggles; so, as each one of these had stuck fast, fixed in the ground, in her alarm, she attempted flight in vain; but the pliant root held her fast, and confined her, springing forward[7] {to escape}. And while she is looking where her toes are, where, {too}, are her feet and her nails, she sees wood growing up upon her well-turned legs. Endeavouring, too, to smite her thigh, with grieving right hand, she strikes solid oak; her breast, too, becomes oak; her shoulders are oak. You would suppose that her extended arms are real boughs, and you would not be deceived in {so} supposing.

[Footnote 1: Berecynthian pipe.—Ver. 16. This pipe, made of box-wood, was much used in the rites of Cybele, or Berecynthia.]

[Footnote 2: Doomed to die.—Ver. 26. The Romans were wont to exhibit shows of hunting in the amphitheatre in the morning; and at mid-day the gladiatorial spectacles commenced. The 'arena' was the name given to the central open space, which derived its name from the sand with which it was covered, chiefly for the purpose of absorbing the blood of the wild beasts and of the combatants. Caligula, Nero, and Carus showed their extravagant disposition by using cinnabar and borax instead of sand. In the earlier amphitheatres there were ditches, called 'Euripi,' between the open space, or arena, and the seats, to defend the spectators from the animals. They were introduced by Julius Caesar, but were filled up by Nero, to gain space for the spectators. Those who fought with the beasts (as it will be remembered St. Paul did at Ephesus) were either condemned criminals or captives, or persons who did so for pay, being trained for the purpose. Lucius Metellus was the first that we read of who introduced wild beasts in the theatre for the amusement of the public. He exhibited in the Circus one hundred and forty-two elephants, which he brought from Sicily, after his victory over the Carthaginians, and which are said to have been slain, more because the Romans did not know what to do with them, than for the amusement of the public. Lions and panthers were first exhibited by M. Fulvius, after the AEtolian war. In the Circensian games, exhibited by the Curule AEdiles, P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica, and P. Lentulus, B.C. 168, there were sixty-three African panthers and forty bears and elephants. These latter animals were sometimes introduced to fight with bulls. Sylla, when Praetor, exhibited one hundred lions, which were pierced with javelins. We also read of hippopotami and crocodiles being introduced for the same purpose, while cameleopards were also hunted in the games given by Julius Caesar in his third consulship. He also introduced bull fights, and Augustus first exhibited the rhinoceros, and a serpent, fifty cubits in length. When Titus constructed his great amphitheatre, five thousand wild beasts and four thousand tame animals were slain; while in the games celebrated by Trajan, after his victories over the Dacians, eleven thousand animals are said to have been killed. For further information on this subject, the reader is referred to the article 'Venatio,' in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, which valuable work contains a large quantity of interesting matter on this barbarous practice of the Romans.]

[Footnote 3: Into the breezes.—Ver. 43. 'In ventos anima exhalata recessit' is rendered by Clarke— 'his life breathed out, marches off into the wind.']

[Footnote 4: Limbs lie scattered.—Ver. 50. The limbs of Orpheus were collected by the Muses, and, according to Pausanias, were buried by them in Dium in Macedonia, while his head was carried to Lesbos.]

[Footnote 5: Methymnaean Lesbos.—Ver. 55. Methymna was a town in the isle of Lesbos, famed for its wines.]

[Footnote 6: Side by side.—Ver. 64. 'Conjunctis passibus' means 'at an equal pace, and side by side.']

[Footnote 7: Springing forward.—Ver. 78. 'Exsultantem' is rendered by Clarke, 'bouncing hard to get away.']


Some of the ancient mythologists say that the story of the serpent, changed into stone for insulting the head of Orpheus, was founded on the history of a certain inhabitant of the isle of Lesbos, who was punished for attacking the reputation of Orpheus. This critic excited contempt, as a malignant and ignorant person, who endeavoured, as it were, to sting the character of the deceased poet, and therefore, by way of exposing his spite and stupidity, he was said to have been changed from a serpent into a stone. According to Philostratus, the poet's head was preserved in the temple of Apollo at Lesbos; and he tells us that Diomedes, and Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, brought Philoctetes to Troy, after having explained to him the oracular response which the head of Orpheus had given to him from the bottom of a cave at Lesbos.

The harp of Orpheus was preserved in the same temple; and so many wonders were reported of it, that Neanthus, the son of the tyrant Pytharus, purchased it of the priests of Apollo, believing that its sound would be sufficient to put rocks and trees in motion; but, according to Lucian, he succeeded so ill, that on his trying the harp, the dogs of the neighbouring villages fell upon him and tore him to pieces.

The transformation of the women of Thrace into trees, for the murder of Orpheus, is probably an allegory intended to show that these furious and ill-conditioned females did not escape punishment for their misdeeds; and that they were driven by society to pass the rest of their lives in woods and caverns.

FABLE II. [XI.85-145]

Bacchus, having punished the Thracian women for the murder of Orpheus, leaves Thrace. His tutor, Silenus, having become intoxicated, loses his companions, and is brought by some Phrygian peasants to Midas. He sends him to Bacchus, on which the God, in acknowledgment of his kindness, promises him whatever favour he may desire. Midas asks to be able to turn everything that he touches into gold. This power is granted; but, soon convinced of his folly, Midas begs the God to deprive him of it, on which he is ordered to bathe in the river Pactolus. He obeys the God, and communicates the power which he possesses to the stream; from which time that river has golden sands.

And this is not enough for Bacchus. He resolves to forsake the country itself, and, with a superior train, he repairs to the vineyards of his own Tymolus, and Pactolus; although it was not golden at that time, nor to be coveted for its precious sands. The usual throng, {both} Satyrs and Bacchanals, surround him, but Silenus is away. The Phrygian rustics took him, as he was staggering with age and wine, and, bound with garlands, they led him to {their} king, Midas, to whom, together with the Cecropian Eumolpus,[8] the Thracian Orpheus had intrusted the {mysterious} orgies {of Bacchus}. Soon as he recognized this associate and companion of these rites, he hospitably kept a festival on the coming of this guest, for twice five days, and {as many} nights joined in succession.

"And now the eleventh Lucifer had closed the lofty host of the stars, when the king came rejoicing to the Lydian lands, and restored Silenus to the youth, his foster-child. To him the God, being glad at the recovery of his foster-father, gave the choice of desiring a favour, pleasing, {indeed}, but useless, {as it turned out}. He, destined to make a foolish use of the favour, says, 'Cause that whatever I shall touch with my body shall be turned into yellow gold.' Liber assents to his wish, and grants him the hurtful favour, and is grieved that he has not asked for something better. The Berecynthian hero[9] departs joyful, and rejoices in his own misfortune, and tries the truth of his promise by touching everything. And, hardly believing himself, he pulls down a twig from a holm-oak, growing on a bough not lofty; the twig becomes gold. He takes up a stone from the ground; the stone, too, turns pale with gold. He touches a clod, also; by his potent touch the clod becomes a mass {of gold}. He plucks some dry ears of corn, that wheat is golden. He holds an apple taken from a tree, you would suppose that the Hesperides had given it. If he places his fingers upon the lofty door-posts, {then} the posts are seen to glisten. When, too, he has washed his hands in the liquid stream, the water flowing from his hands might have deceived Danae. He scarcely can contain his own hopes in his mind, imagining everything to be of gold. As he is {thus} rejoicing, his servants set before him a table supplied with dainties, and not deficient in parched corn. But then, whether he touches the gifts of Ceres with his right hand, the gifts of Ceres, {as gold}, become hard; or if he attempts to bite the dainties with hungry teeth, those dainties, upon the application of his teeth, shine as yellow plates of gold. {Bacchus}, the grantor of this favour, he mingles with pure water; you could see liquid gold flowing through his jaws.

"Astonished at the novelty of his misfortune, being both rich and wretched, he wishes to escape from his wealth, and {now} he hates what but so lately he has wished for; no plenty relieves his hunger, dry thirst parches his throat, and he is deservedly tormented by the {now} hated gold; and raising his hands towards heaven, and his shining arms, he says, "Grant me pardon, father Lenaeus; I have done wrong, but have pity on me, I pray, and deliver me from this specious calamity!" Bacchus, the gentle Divinity among the Gods, restored him, as he confessed that he had done wrong, {to his former state}, and annulled his given promise, and the favour that was granted: "And that thou mayst not remain overlaid with thy gold, so unhappily desired, go," said he, "to the river adjoining to great Sardis,[10] and trace thy way, meeting the waters as they fall from the height of the mountain, until thou comest to the rise of the stream. And plunge thy head beneath the bubbling spring, where it bursts forth most abundantly, and at once purge thy body, at once thy crime." The king placed himself beneath the waters prescribed; the golden virtue tinged the river, and departed from the human body into the stream. And even now, the fields, receiving the ore of this ancient vein {of gold}, are hard, growing of pallid colour, from their clods imbibing the gold.

[Footnote 8: Eumolpus.—Ver. 93. There were three celebrated persons of antiquity named Eumolpus. The first was a Thracian, the son of Neptune and Chione, who lived in the time of Erectheus, king of Athens, against whom he led the people of Eleusis, and who established the Eleusinian mysteries. Some of his posterity settling at Athens, the Eumolpus here named was born there. He was the son of Musaeus and the disciple of Orpheus. The third Eumolpus is supposed to have lived between the times of the two already named.]

[Footnote 9: Berecynthian hero.—Ver. 106. Midas is so called from mount Berecynthus in Phrygia.]

[Footnote 10: Sardis.—Ver. 137. The city of Sardis was the capital of Lydia, where Croesus had his palace. The river Pactolus flowed through it.]


The ancients divided the Divinities into several classes, and in the last class, which Ovid calls the populace, or commonalty of the Gods, were the Satyrs and Sileni. The latter, according to Pausanias, were no other than Satyrs of advanced age. There seems, however, to have been one among them, to whom the name of Silenus was especially given, and to him the present story relates. According to Pindar and Pausanias he was born at Malea, in Laconia; while Theopompus, quoted by AElian, represents him as being the son of a Nymph. He was inferior to the higher Divinities, but superior to man, in not being subject to mortality. He was represented as bald, flat-nosed, and red-faced, a perfect specimen of a drunken old man. He is often introduced either sitting on an ass, or reeling along on foot, with a thyrsus to support him.

He was said to have tended the education of the infant Bacchus, and indeed, according to the author whose works are quoted as those of Orpheus, he was an especial favourite of the Gods; while some writers represent him not as a drunken old man, but as a learned philosopher and a skilful commander. Lucian combines the two characters, and describes him as an aged man with large straight ears and a huge belly, wearing yellow clothes, and generally mounted on an ass, or supported by a staff, but, nevertheless, as being a skilful general. Hyginus says, that the Phrygian peasants found Midas near a fountain, into which, according to Xenophon, some one had put wine, which had made him drunk. In his interview with Midas, according to Theopompus, as quoted by AElian, they had a conversation concerning that unknown region of the earth, to which Plato refers under the name of the New Atlantis, and which, after long employing the speculations of the ancient philosophers, was realized to the moderns in the discovery of America. The passage is sufficiently curious to deserve to be quoted. He says, "Asia, Europe, and Libya, are but three islands, surrounded by the ocean; but beyond that ocean there is a vast continent, whose bounds are entirely unknown to us. The men and the animals of that country are much larger, and live much longer than those of this part of the world. Their towns are fine and magnificent; their customs are different from ours; and they are governed by different laws. They have two cities, one of which is called 'the Warlike,' and the other 'the Devout.' The inhabitants of the first city are much given to warfare, and make continual attacks upon their neighbours, whom they bring under their subjection. Those who inhabit the other city are peaceable, and blessed with plenty; the earth without toil or tillage furnishing them with abundance of the necessaries of life. Except their sick, they all live in the midst of riches and continual festivity and pleasure; but they are so just and righteous that the Gods themselves delight to go frequently and pass their time among them.

"The warlike people of the first city having extended their conquests in their own vast continent, made an irruption into ours, with a million of men, as far as the country of the Hyperboreans; but when they saw their mode of living, they deemed them to be unworthy of their notice, and returned home. These warriors rarely die of sickness; they delight in warfare, and generally lose their lives in battle. There is also in this new world another numerous people called Meropes; and in their country is a place called 'Anostus,' that is to say, 'not to be repassed,' because no one ever comes back from thence. It is a dreadful abyss, having no other than a reddish sort of light. There are two rivers in that place; one called the River of Sorrow, and the other the River of Mirth. Trees as large as planes grow about these rivers. Those who eat of the fruit of the trees growing near the River of Sorrow, pass their lives in affliction, weeping continually, even to their last breath; but such as eat of the fruit of the other trees, forget the past, and revert through the different stages of their life, and then die."

AElian regards the passage as a mere fable, and the latter part is clearly allegorical. The mention of the two cities, 'the Warlike' and 'the Devout,' can hardly fail to remind us of Japan, with its spiritual and temporal capitals.

Some writers say, that Silenus was the king of Caria, and was the contemporary and friend of Midas, to whom his counsel proved of considerable service, in governing his dominions. He was probably called the foster-father or tutor, of Bacchus, because he introduced his worship into Phrygia and the neighbouring countries.

FABLE III. [XI.146-193]

Pan is so elated with the praises of some Nymphs who hear the music of his pipe, that he presumes to challenge Apollo to play with him. The mountain God, Tmolus, who is chosen umpire of the contest, decides in favour of Apollo, and the whole company approve of his judgment except Midas, who, for his stupidity in preferring Pan, receives a pair of asses' ears. He carefully conceals them till they are discovered by his barber, who publishes his deformity in a very singular manner.

He, abhorring riches, inhabited the woods and the fields, and {followed} Pan, who always dwells in caves of the mountains; but his obtuse understanding[11] still remained, and the impulse of his foolish mind was fated again, as before, to be an injury to its owner. For the lofty Tmolus, looking far and wide over the sea, stands erect, steep with its lofty ascent; and extending in its descent on either side, is bounded on the one side by Sardis, on the other by the little Hypaepae.

While Pan is there boasting of his strains to the charming Nymphs, and is warbling a little tune upon the reeds joined with wax, daring to despise the playing of Apollo in comparison with his own, he comes to the unequal contest under the arbitration of Tmolus.[12] The aged umpire seats himself upon his own mountain, and frees his ears of the {incumbering} trees. His azure-coloured hair is only covered with oak, and acorns hang around his hollow temples. And looking at the God of the flocks, he says, "there is no delay in {me}, your umpire." He sounds his rustic reeds, and delights Midas with his uncouth music; for he, by chance, is present as he plays. After this the sacred Tmolus turns his face towards the countenance of Apollo; his words follow {the direction of} his face. He, having his yellow head wreathed with Parnassian laurel, sweeps the ground with his robe, soaked in Tyrian purple,[13] and supports with his left hand his lyre, adorned with gems and Indian ivory; the other hand holds the plectrum. The very posture is that of an artist. He then touches the strings with a skilful thumb; charmed by the sweetness of which, Tmolus bids Pan to hold his reeds in submission to the lyre; and the judgment and decision of the sacred mountain pleases them all. Yet it is blamed, and is called unjust by the voice of Midas alone. But the Delian {God} does not allow his stupid ears to retain their human shape: but draws them out to a {great} length, and he fills them with grey hairs, and makes them unsteady at the lower part, and gives them the power of moving. The rest {of his body} is that of a man; in one part alone is he condemned {to punishment}; and he assumes the ears of the slowly moving ass.

He, indeed, concealed them, and endeavoured to veil his temples, laden with this foul disgrace, with a purple turban. But a servant, who was wont to cut his hair, when long, with the steel {scissars}, saw it; who, when he did not dare disclose the disgraceful thing he had seen, though desirous to publish it, and yet could not keep it secret, retired, and dug up the ground, and disclosed, in a low voice, what kind of ears he had beheld on his master, and whispered it to the earth cast up. And {then} he buried this discovery of his voice with the earth thrown in again, and, having covered up the ditch, departed in silence.

There, a grove, thick set with quivering reeds, began to rise; and as soon as it came to maturity, after a complete year, it betrayed its planter. For, moved by the gentle South wind, it repeated the words {there} buried, and disclosed the ears of his master.

[Footnote 11: Obtuse understanding.—Ver. 148. 'Pingue sed ingenium mansit,' is rendered by Clarke, 'but he continued a blockhead still.']

[Footnote 12: Tmolus.—Ver. 156. This was the tutelary divinity of the mountain of Tmolus, or Tymolus.]

[Footnote 13: Soaked in Tyrian purple.—Ver. 166. Being saturated with Tyrian purple, the garment would be 'dibaphus,' or 'twice dipt;' being first dyed in the grain, and again when woven. Of course, these were the most valuable kind of cloths.]


Midas, according to Pausanias, was the son of Gordius and Cybele, and reigned in the Greater Phrygia. Strabo says that he and his father kept their court near the river Sangar, in cities which, in the time of that author had become mean villages. As Midas was very rich, and at the same time very frugal, it was reported that whatever he touched was at once turned into gold; and Bacchus was probably introduced into his story, because Midas had favoured the introduction of his worship, and was consequently supposed to have owed his success to the good offices of that Divinity. He was probably the first who extracted gold from the sands of the river Pactolus, and in that circumstance the story may have originated. Strabo says that Midas found the treasures which he possessed in the mines of Mount Bermius. It was said that in his infancy some ants were seen to creep into his cradle, and to put grains of wheat in his mouth, which was supposed to portend that he would be rich and frugal.

As he was very stupid and ignorant, the fable of his preference of the music of Pan to that of Apollo was invented, to which was added, perhaps, as a mark of his stupidity, that the God gave him a pair of asses' ears. The scholiast of Aristophanes, to explain the story, says either it was intended to shew that Midas, like the ass, was very quick of hearing, or in other words, had numerous spies in all parts of his dominions; or, it was invented, because his usual place of residence was called Onouta, onou ota, 'the ears of an ass.' Strabo says that he took a draught of warm bullock's blood, from the effects of which he died; and, according to Plutarch, he did so to deliver himself from the frightful dreams with which he was tormented.

Tmolus, the king of Lydia, according to Clitophon, was the son of Mars and the Nymph Theogene, or, according to Eustathius, of Sipylus and Eptonia. Having violated Arriphe, a Nymph of Diana, he was, as a punishment, tossed by a bull, and falling on some sharp pointed stakes, he lost his life, and was buried on the mountain that afterwards bore his name.

FABLE IV. [XI.194-220]

Apollo and Neptune build the walls of Troy for king Laomedon, who refuses to give the Gods the reward which he has promised: on which Neptune punishes his perjury by an inundation of his country. Laomedon is then obliged to expose his daughter to a sea monster, in order to appease the God. Hercules delivers her; and Laomedon defrauds him likewise of the horses which he has promised him. In revenge, Hercules plunders the city of Troy, and carries off Hesione, whom he gives in marriage to his companion Telamon.

The son of Latona, having {thus} revenged himself, departs from Tmolus, and, borne through the liquid air, rests on the plains of Laomedon, on this side of the narrow sea of Helle, the daughter of Nephele. On the right hand of Sigaeum and on the left of the lofty Rhoetaeum,[14] there is an ancient altar dedicated to the Panomphaean[15] Thunderer. Thence, he sees Laomedon {now} first building the walls of rising Troy, and that this great undertaking is growing up with difficult labour, and requires no small resources. And {then}, with the trident-bearing father of the raging deep, he assumes a mortal form, and for the Phrygian king they build the walls,[16] a sum of gold being agreed on for the defences.

The work is {now} finished; the king refuses the reward, and, as a completion of his perfidy, adds perjury to his false words. "Thou shalt not escape unpunished," says the king of the sea; and he drives all his waters towards the shores of covetous Troy. He turns the land, too, into the form of the sea, and carries off the wealth of the husbandmen, and overwhelms the fields with waves. Nor is this punishment sufficient: the daughter of the king, is also demanded for a sea monster. Chained to the rugged rocks, Alcides delivers her, and demands the promised reward, the horses agreed upon; and the recompense of so great a service being denied him, he captures the twice-perjured walls of conquered Troy. Nor does Telamon, a sharer in the warfare, come off without honour; and he obtains Hesione, who is given to him.

But Peleus was distinguished by a Goddess for his wife; nor was he more proud of the name of his grandfather than that of his father-in-law.[17] Since, not to his lot alone did it fall to be the grandson of Jove; to him alone, was a Goddess given for a wife.

[Footnote 14: Rhoetaeum.—Ver. 197. Sigaeum and Rhoetaeum were two promontories, near Troy, between which was an altar dedicated to Jupiter Panomphaeus.]

[Footnote 15: Panomphaean.—Ver. 198. Jupiter had the title 'Panomphaeus,' from pan, 'all,' and omphe, 'the voice,' either because he was worshipped by the voices of all, or because he was the author of all prophecy.]

[Footnote 16: Build the walls.—Ver. 204. It has been suggested that the story of Laomedon obtaining the aid of Neptune in building the walls of Troy, only meant that he built it of bricks made of clay mixed with water, and dried in the sun.]

[Footnote 17: His father-in-law.—Ver. 219. Nereus, the father of Thetis; was a Divinity of the sea, and was gifted with the power of prophecy.]


Laomedon, being King of Troy, and the city being open and defenceless, he undertook to enclose it with walls, and succeeded so well, that the work was attributed to Apollo. The strong banks which he was obliged to raise to keep out the sea and to prevent inundations, were regarded as the work of Neptune. In time, these banks being broken down by tempests, it was reported that the God of the sea had thus revenged himself on Laomedon, for refusing him the reward which had been agreed upon between them. This story received the more ready credit from the circumstance mentioned by Herodotus and Eustathius, that this king used the treasure belonging to the temple of Neptune, in raising these embankments, and building the walls of his city; having promised the priests to restore it when he should be in a condition to do so; which promise he never performed. Homer says that Neptune and Apollo tended the flocks while all the subjects of Laomedon were engaged in building the walls.

When these embankments were laid under water, and a plague began to rage within the city, the Trojans were told by an oracle that to appease the God of the sea, they must sacrifice a virgin of the royal blood. The lot fell upon Hesione, and she was exposed to the fury of a sea-monster. Hercules offered to deliver her for a reward of six horses, and having succeeded, was refused his recompense by Laomedon; whom he slew, and then plundered his city. He then gave the kingdom to Podarces, the son of Laomedon, and Hesione to his companion Telamon, who had assisted him. This monster was probably an allegorical representation of the inundations of the sea; and Hesione having been made the price of him that could succeed in devising a remedy, she was said to have been exposed to the fury of a monster. The six horses promised by Laomedon were perhaps so many ships, which Hercules demanded for his recompense; and this is the more likely, as the ancients said that these horses were so light and swift, that they ran upon the waves, which story seems to point at the qualities of a galley or ship under sail.

Lycophron gives a more wonderful version of the story. He says that the monster, to which Hesione was exposed, devoured Hercules, and that he was three days in its belly, and came out, having lost all his hair. This is, probably, a way of telling us that Hercules and his assistants were obliged to work in the water, which incommoded them very much. Palaephatus gives another explanation: he says that Hesione was about to be delivered up to a pirate, and that Hercules, on boarding his ship, was wounded, although afterwards victorious.

FABLES V. AND VI. [XI.221-409]

Proteus foretells that Thetis shall have a son, who shall be more powerful than his father, and shall exceed him in valour. Jupiter, who is in love with Thetis, is alarmed at this prediction, and yields her to Peleus. The Goddess flies from his advances by assuming various shapes, till, by the advice of Proteus, he holds her fast, and then having married her, she bears Achilles. Peleus goes afterwards to Ceyx, king of Trachyn, to expiate the death of his brother Phocus, whom he has killed. Ceyx is in a profound melancholy, and tells him how his brother Daedalion, in the transports of his grief for his daughter Chione, who had been slain for vying with Diana, has been transformed into a hawk. During this relation, Peleus is informed that a wolf which Psamathe has sent to revenge the death of Phocus, is destroying his herds. He endeavours to avert the wrath of the Goddess, but she is deaf to his entreaties, till, by the intercession of Thetis, she is appeased, and she turns the wolf into stone.

For the aged Proteus had said to Thetis, "Goddess of the waves, conceive; thou shalt be the mother of a youth, who by his gallant actions shall surpass the deeds of his father, and shall be called greater than he." Therefore, lest the world might contain something greater than Jove, although he had felt no gentle flame in his breast, Jupiter avoided the embraces of Thetis,[18] {the Goddess} of the sea, and commanded his grandson, the son of AEacus,[19] to succeed to his own pretensions, and rush into the embraces of the ocean maid. There is a bay of Haemonia, curved into a bending arch; its arms project out; there, were the water {but} deeper, there would be a harbour, {but} the sea is {just} covering the surface of the sand. It has a firm shore, which retains not the impression of the foot, nor delays the step {of the traveller}, nor is covered with sea-weeds. There is a grove of myrtle at hand, planted with particoloured berries. In the middle there is a cave, whether formed by nature or art, it is doubtful; still, by art rather. To this, Thetis, thou wast wont often to come naked, seated on thy harnessed dolphin. There Peleus seized upon thee, as thou wast lying fast bound in sleep; and because, being tried by entreaties, thou didst resist, he resolved upon violence, clasping thy neck with both his arms. And, unless thou hadst had recourse to thy wonted arts, by frequently changing thy shape, he would have succeeded in his attempt. But, at one moment, thou wast a bird (still, as a bird he held thee fast); at another time a large tree: to {that} tree did Peleus cling. Thy third form was that of a spotted tiger; frightened by that, the son of AEacus loosened his arms from thy body.

Then pouring wine upon its waters,[20] he worshipped the Gods of the sea, both with the entrails of sheep and with the smoke of frankincense; until the Carpathian[21] prophet said, from the middle of the waves, "Son of AEacus, thou shalt gain the alliance desired by thee. Do thou only, when she shall be resting fast asleep in the cool cave, bind her unawares with cords and tenacious bonds. And let her not deceive thee, by imitating a hundred forms; but hold her fast, whatever she shall be, until she shall reassume the form which she had before." Proteus said this, and hid his face in the sea, and received his own waves at his closing words. Titan was {now} descending, and, with the pole of his chariot bent downward, was taking possession of the Hesperian main; when the beautiful Nereid, leaving the deep, entered her wonted place of repose. Hardly had Peleus well seized the virgin's limbs, {when} she changed her shape, until she perceived her limbs to be held fast, and her arms to be extended different ways. Then, at last, she sighed, and said, "Not without {the aid of} a Divinity, dost thou overcome me;" and then she appeared {as} Thetis {again}. The hero embraced her {thus} revealed, and enjoyed his wish, and by her was the father of great Achilles.

And happy was Peleus in his son, happy, too, in his wife, and one to whose lot all {blessings} had fallen, if you except the crime of his killing Phocus. The Trachinian land[22] received him guilty of his brother's blood, and banished from his native home. Here Ceyx, sprung from Lucifer for his father, and having the comeliness of his sire in his face, held the sway without violence and without bloodshed, who, being sad at that time and unlike his {former} self, lamented the loss of his brother. After the son of AEacus, wearied, both with troubles and the length of the journey, has arrived there, and has entered the city with a few attending him, and has left the flocks of sheep and the herds which he has brought with him, not far from the walls, in a shady valley; when an opportunity is first afforded him of approaching the prince, extending the symbols of peace[23] with his suppliant hand, he tells him who he is, and from whom descended. He only conceals his crime, and, dissembling as to the {true} reason of his banishment, he entreats {him} to aid him {by a reception} either in his city or in his territory. On the other hand, the Trachinian {prince} addresses him with gentle lips, in words such as these: "Peleus, our bounties are open even to the lowest ranks, nor do I hold an inhospitable sway. To this my inclination, thou bringest in addition as powerful inducements, an illustrious name, and Jupiter as thy grandsire. And do not lose thy time in entreaty; all that thou askest thou shalt have. Look upon all these things, whatever thou seest, as in part thy own: would that thou couldst behold them in better condition!" and {then} he weeps. Pelcus and his companions enquire what it is that occasions grief so great. To them he {thus} speaks:—

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