The Metamorphoses of Ovid - Literally Translated into English Prose, with Copious Notes - and Explanations
by Publius Ovidius Naso
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Thus far for the figures that shine on the ancient brass; the summit of the goblet is rough with gilded acanthus. Nor do the Trojans return gifts of less value than those given; and to the priest they give an incense-box, to keep the frankincense; they give a bowl, {too}, and a crown, brilliant with gold and gems. Then recollecting that the {Trojans}, {as} Teucrians, derived their origin from the blood of Teucer, they make for Crete, and cannot long endure the air of that place;[63] and, having left behind the hundred cities, they desire to reach the Ausonian harbours. A storm rages, and tosses the men to and fro; and winged Aello frightens them, when received in the unsafe harbours of the Strophades.[64] And now, borne along, they have passed the Dulichian harbours, and Ithaca, and Same,[65] and the Neritian abodes, the kingdom of the deceitful Ulysses; and they behold Ambracia,[66] contended for in a dispute of the Deities, which now is renowned for the Actian Apollo,[67] and the stone in the shape of the transformed judge, and the land of Dodona, vocal with its oaks; and the Chaonian bays, where the sons of the Molossian king escaped the unavailing flames, with wings attached {to them}.

[Footnote 57: Antandros.—Ver. 628. This was a city of Phrygia, at the foot of Mount Ida, where the fleet of AEneas was built.]

[Footnote 58: Trees once grasped.—Ver. 635. These were a palm and an olive tree, which were pointed out by the people of Delos, as having been held by Latona, when in the pangs of labour.]

[Footnote 59: Of slain oxen.—Ver. 637. This, however, was contrary to the usual practice; for if we credit Macrobius, no victim was slain on the altars of Apollo, in the island of Delos.]

[Footnote 60: Of thy consort.—Ver. 673. It must be remembered, that he is addressing Anchises, who was said to have enjoyed the favour of Venus; to which Goddess the dove was consecrated.]

[Footnote 61: In place of.—Ver. 686. For the seven gates, would at once lead to the conclusion that it represented the city of Thebes, in Boeotia. Myla, before referred to, was a town of Sicily.]

[Footnote 62: Calls 'Coronae'.—Ver. 698. The word 'Coronas' is here employed as the plural of a female name 'Corona;' in Greek Koronis.]

[Footnote 63: Of that place.—Ver. 707. AEneas and his followers founded in Crete the city of Pergamea; but the pestilence which raged there, and a continued drought, combined with the density of the atmosphere, obliged them to leave the island.]

[Footnote 64: The Strophades.—Ver. 709. These were two islands in the Ionian Sea, on the western side of Peloponnesus. They received their name from the Greek work strophe, 'a return,' because Calais and Zethes pursued the Harpies, which persecuted Phineus so far, and then returned home by the command of Jupiter.]

[Footnote 65: Same.—Ver. 711. This island was also called Cephalenia. It was in the Ionian Sea, and formed part of the kingdom of Ulysses.]

[Footnote 66: Ambracia.—Ver. 714. This was a famous city of Epirus, which gave its name to the gulf of Ambracia.]

[Footnote 67: Actian Apollo.—Ver. 715. Augustus built a temple to Apollo, at Actium, in Epirus, near which he had defeated the fleet of Antony and Cleopatra. He also instituted games, to be celebrated there every fifth year in honour of his victory.]


Virgil describes Anius as the king of Delos, and the priest of Apollo at the same time. 'Rex Anius, rex idem hominum Phoebique sacerdos.' AEneid, Book III. He was descended from Cadmus, through his mother Rhea, the daughter of Staphilus. Having engaged in some intrigue, as Diodorus Siculus conjectures, her father exposed her on the sea in an open boat, which drove to Delos, and she was there delivered of Anius, who afterwards became the king of the island. By his wife Dorippe he had three daughters, who were extremely frugal, and by means of the offerings and presents that were brought to the temple of Apollo, amassed a large store of provisions. During the siege of Troy, the Greeks sent Palamedes to Delos, to demand food for the army; and, as a security for his compliance with these demands, they exacted the daughters of Anius as hostages. The damsels soon afterwards finding means to escape, it was said that Bacchus, who was their kinsman through Cadmus, had transformed them into doves. Probably the story of their transforming every thing they touched, into wine, corn, and oil, was founded solely on their thriftiness and parsimony. Bochart, however, explains the story from the circumstance of their names being, as he conjectures, Oeno, Spermo, and Elai, which, in the old Phoenician dialect, signified wine, corn, and oil; and he thinks that the story was confirmed in general belief by the fact that large quantities of corn, wine, and oil were supplied from Delos to the Grecian army when before Troy.

In the reign of Orion, Thebes being devastated by a plague, the oracles were consulted, and the Thebans were told that the contagion would cease as soon as the daughters of the king should be sacrificed to the wrath of heaven. The two maidens immediately presented themselves at the altar; and on their immolation, the Gods were appeased, and the plague ceased. This example of patriotism and fortitude filled the more youthful Thebans with so much emulation, that they shook off their former inactivity, and soon became conspicuous for their bravery: which sudden change gave occasion to the saying, that the ashes of these maidens had been transformed into men.

The Poet follows AEneas on his voyage, to gain an opportunity of referring to several other current stories. Among other places, he passes the city of Ambracia, about which the Gods had contended, and sees the rock into which the umpire of their dispute, who had decided in favour of Hercules, was changed. Ambracia was on the coast of Epirus, and gave its name to an adjacent inlet of the sea, called the Ambracian Gulf. Antoninus Liberalis tells us, on the authority of Nicander, that Apollo, Diana, and Hercules disputed about this city, and left the decision to Cragaleus, who gave it in favour of Hercules; on which, Apollo transformed him into a rock. Very possibly the meaning of this may be, that when the people of Ambracia were considering to which of these Deities they should dedicate their city, Cragaleus preferred Hercules to the other two, or, in other words, the feats of war to the cultivation of the arts and sciences. Apollo was said to have turned him into a stone, either because he met with his death near the promontory where a temple of Apollo stood, or to show the stupidity of his decision. Antoninus Liberalis is the only writer besides Ovid that makes mention of the adventure of the sons of the Molossian king; he tells us that Munychus, king of the Molossi, had three sons, Alcander, Megaletor, and Philaeus, and a daughter named Hyperippe. Some robbers setting fire to their father's house, they were transformed by Jupiter into birds. This, in all probability, is a poetical way of saying that the youths escaped from the flames, contrary to universal expectation.

The opinions of writers have been very conflicting as to the origin of the oracle of Dodona. Silius Italicus says that two pigeons flew from Thebes in Egypt, one of which went to Libya, and occasioned the founding of the oracle of Jupiter Ammon; while the other settled upon an oak in Chaonia, and signified thereby to the inhabitants, that it was the will of heaven that there should be an oracle in that place. Herodotus says that two priestesses of Egyptian Thebes being carried off by some Phoenician merchants, one of them was sold to the Greeks, after which she settled in the forest of Dodona, where a little chapel was founded by her in honour of Jupiter, in which she gave responses. He adds, that they called her 'the dove,' because being a foreigner they did not understand her language. At length, having learned the language of the Pelasgians, it was said that the dove had spoken. On that foundation grew the tradition that the oaks themselves uttered oracular responses.

Notwithstanding this plausible account of Herodotus, it is not impossible that some equivocal expressions in the Hebrew and Arabian languages may have given rise to the story. 'Himan,' in the one language, signified 'a priest;' and 'Heman,' in the other, was the name for 'a pigeon.' Possibly those who found the former word in the history of ancient Greece, written in the dialect of the original Phoenician settlers, did not understand it, and by their mistake, caused it to be asserted that a dove had founded the oracle of Dodona. Bochart tells us that the same word, in the Phoenician tongue, signifies either 'pigeons,' or 'women;' but the Abbe Sallier has gone still further, and has shown that, in the language of the ancient inhabitants of Epirus, the same word had the two significations mentioned by Bochart.

This oracle afterwards grew famous for its responses, and the priests used considerable ingenuity in the delivery of their answers. They cautiously kept all who came to consult them at a distance from the dark recess where the shrine was situated; and took care to deliver their responses in a manner so ambiguous, as to make people believe whatever they pleased. In this circumstance originates the variation in the descriptions of the oracle which the ancients have left us. According to some, it was the oaks that spoke; according to others, the beeches; while a third account was that pigeons gave the answers; and, lastly, it was said that the ringing of certain cauldrons there suspended, divulged the will of heaven. Stephanus Byzantinus has left a curious account of this contrivance of the cauldrons; he says that in that part of the forest of Dodona, where the oracle stood, there were two pillars erected, at a small distance from each other. On one there was placed a brazen vessel, about the size of an ordinary cauldron: and on the other a little boy, which was most probably a piece of mechanism, who held a brazen whip with several thongs which hung loose, and were easily moved. When the wind blew, the lashes struck against the vessel, and occasioned a noise while the wind continued. It was from them, he says, that the forest took the name of Dodona; 'dodo,' in the ancient language, signifying 'a cauldron.'

Strabo says that the responses were originally given by three priestesses: and he gives the reason why two priests were afterwards added to them. The Boeotians having been treacherously attacked by the people of Thrace during a truce which they had made, went to consult the oracle of Dodona; and the priestess answering them that if they would act impiously their design would succeed to their wish, the envoys suspected that this response had been suggested by the enemy, and burned her in revenge; after which they vindicated their cruelty by saying that if the priestess designed to deceive them, she well deserved her punishment; and that if she spoke with truthfulness, they had only followed the advice of the oracle. This argument not satisfying the people of the district, the Boeotian envoys were seized; but as they pleaded that it was unjust that two women already prejudiced against them should be their judges, two priests were added to decide the matter. These, in return for their being the occasion of putting them in an office so honourable and lucrative, acquitted the Boeotians; whose fellow countrymen were always in the habit from that time of addressing the priests when they consulted the oracle. These priests were called by the name of 'Selli.'

FABLE VII. [XIII.719-897]

Polyphemus, one of the Cyclops, jealous of Acis, who is in love with Galatea, kills the youth with a rock which he hurls at him; on which, his blood is changed into a river which bears his name.

They make for the neighbouring land of the Phaeacians,[68] planted with beauteous fruit. After this, Epirus and Buthrotos,[69] ruled over by the Phrygian prophet, and a fictitious Troy, are reached. Thence, acquainted with the future, all which, Helenus, the son of Priam, in his faithful instructions has forewarned them of, they enter Sicania. With three points this projects into the sea. Of these, Pachynos is turned towards the showery South: Lilybaeum is exposed to the soft Zephyrs: but Peloros looks towards the Bear, free from the sea, and towards Boreas. By this {part} the Trojans enter; and with oars and favouring tide, at nightfall the fleet makes the Zanclaean sands. Scylla infests the right hand side, the restless Charybdis the left. This swallows and vomits forth again ships taken down; the other, having the face of a maiden, has her swarthy stomach surrounded with fierce dogs; and (if the poets have not left the whole a fiction) once on a time, too, {she was} a maiden. Many suitors courted her; who being repulsed, she, most beloved by the Nymphs of the ocean, went to the ocean Nymphs, and used to relate the eluded loves of the youths.

While Galatea[70] was giving her hair be to combed, heaving sighs, she addressed her in such words as these: "{And} yet, O maiden, no ungentle race of men does woo thee; and as thou dost, thou art able to deny them with impunity. But I, whose sire is Nereus, whom the azure Doris bore, who am guarded, too, by a crowd of sisters, was not able, but through the waves, to escape the passion of the Cyclop;" and as she spoke, the tears choked her utterance. When, with her fingers like marble, the maiden had wiped these away, and had comforted the Goddess, "Tell me, dearest," said she, "and conceal not {from me} ({for} I am true to thee) the cause of thy grief." In these words did the Nereid reply to the daughter of Crataeis:[71] "Acis was the son of Faunus and of the Nymph Symaethis, a great delight, indeed, to his father and his mother, yet a still greater to me. For the charming {youth} had attached me to himself alone, and eight birth-days having a second time been passed, he had {now} marked his tender cheeks with the dubious down. Him I {pursued}; incessantly did the Cyclop me pursue. Nor can I, shouldst thou enquire, declare whether the hatred of the Cylops, or the love of Acis, was the stronger in me. They were equal. O genial Venus! how great is the power of thy sway. For that savage, and one to be dreaded by the very woods, and beheld with impunity by no stranger, the contemner of great Olympus with the Gods {themselves}, {now} feels what love is; and, captivated with passion for me, he burns, forgetting his cattle and his caves.

"And now, Polyphemus, thou hast a care for thy looks, and now for {the art of} pleasing; now thou combest out thy stiffened hair with rakes, {and} now it pleases thee to cut thy shaggy beard with the sickle, and to look at thy fierce features in the water, and {so} to compose them. Thy love for carnage, and thy fierceness, and thy insatiate thirst for blood, {now} cease; and the ships both come and go in safety. Telemus, in the mean time arriving at the Sicilian AEtna, Telemus, the son of Eurymus, whom no omen had {ever} deceived, accosts the dreadful Polyphemus, and says, 'The single eye that thou dost carry in the midst of thy forehead, Ulysses shall take away from thee.' He laughed, and said, 'O most silly of the prophets, thou art mistaken, {for} another has already taken it away.' Thus does he slight him, in vain warning him of the truth; and he either burdens the shore, stalking along with huge strides, or, wearied, he returns to his shaded cave.

"A hill, in form of a wedge, runs out with a long projection into the sea: {and} the waves of the ocean flow round either side. Hither the fierce Cyclop ascended, and sat down in the middle. His woolly flocks followed, there being no one to guide them. After the pine tree,[72] which afforded him the service of a staff, {but more} fitted for sail-yards, was laid before his feet, and his pipe was taken up, formed of a hundred reeds; all the mountains were sensible of the piping of the shepherd: the waves, {too}, were sensible. I, lying hid within a rock, and reclining on the bosom of my own Acis, from afar caught such words as these with my ears, and marked them {so} heard in my mind: 'O Galatea, fairer than[73] the leaf of the snow-white privet,[74] more blooming than the meadows, more slender than the tall alder, brighter than glass, more wanton than the tender kid, smoother than the shells worn by continual floods, more pleasing than the winter's sun, {or} than the summer's shade, more beauteous than the apples, more sightly than the lofty plane tree, clearer than ice, sweeter than the ripened grape, softer than both the down of the swan, and than curdled milk, and, didst thou not fly me, more beauteous than a watered garden. {And yet} thou, the same Galatea, {art} wilder than the untamed bullocks, harder than the aged oak, more unstable than the waters, tougher than both the twigs of osier and than the white vines, more immoveable than these rocks, more violent than the torrent, prouder than the bepraised peacock, fiercer than the fire, rougher than the thistles, more cruel than the pregnant she-bear, more deaf than the ocean waves, more savage than the trodden water-snake: and, what I could especially wish to deprive thee of, fleeter not only than the deer when pursued by the loud barkings, but even than the winds and the fleeting air.

"'But didst thou {but} know me well, thou wouldst repine at having fled, and thou thyself wouldst blame thy own hesitation, and wouldst strive to retain me. I have a part of the mountain for my cave, pendent with the native rock; in which the sun is not felt in the middle of the heat, nor is the winter felt: there are apples that load the boughs; there are grapes on the lengthening vines, resembling gold; and there are purple ones {as well}; both the one and the other do I reserve for thee. With thine own hands thou shalt thyself gather the soft strawberries growing beneath the woodland shade; thou thyself {shalt pluck} the cornels of autumn, and plums not only darkened with their black juice, but even of the choicest kinds, and resembling new wax. Nor, I being thy husband, will there be wanting to thee chesnuts, nor the fruit of the arbute tree:[75] every tree shall be at thy service. All this cattle is my own: many, too, are wandering in the valleys: many the wood conceals: many {more} are penned in my caves. Nor, shouldst thou ask me perchance, could I tell thee, how many there are; 'tis for the poor man to count his cattle. For the praises of these trust not me at all; in person thou thyself mayst see how they can hardly support with their legs their distended udders. Lambs, too, a smaller breed, are in the warm folds: there are kids, too, of equal age {to them} in other folds. Snow-white milk I always have: a part of it is kept for drinking, {another} part the liquified rennet hardens. Nor will common delights, and ordinary enjoyments alone fall to thy lot, {such as} does, and hares, and she-goats, or a pair of doves, or a nest taken from the tree top. I have found on the mountain summit the twin cubs of a shaggy she-bear, which can play with thee, so like each other that thou couldst scarce distinguish them. {These} I found, and I said, 'These for my mistress will I keep.'

"'Do now but raise thy beauteous head from out of the azure sea; now, Galatea, come, and do not scorn my presents. Surely I know myself, and myself but lately I beheld in the reflection of the limpid water; and my figure[76] pleased me as I saw it. See how huge I am. Not Jove, in heaven, is greater than this body; for thou art wont to tell how one Jupiter reigns, who he is I know not. Plenty of hair hangs over my grisly features, and, like a grove, overshadows my shoulders; nor think it uncomely that my body is rough, thick set with stiff bristles. A tree without leaves is unseemly; a horse is unseemly, unless a mane covers his tawny neck. Feathers cover the birds; their wool is an ornament to the sheep; a beard and rough hair upon their body is becoming to men. I have but one eye in the middle of my forehead, but it is like a large buckler. Well! and does not the Sun from the heavens behold all these things? and yet the Sun has but one eye. And, besides, in your seas does my father reign. Him do I offer thee for a father-in-law; only do take pity on a suppliant, and hear his prayer, for to thee alone do I give way. And I, who despise Jove, and the heavens, and the piercing lightnings, dread thee, daughter of Nereus; than the lightnings is thy wrath more dreadful to me. But I should be more patient under these slights, if thou didst avoid all men. For why, rejecting the Cyclop, dost thou love Acis? And why prefer Acis to my embraces? Yet, let him please himself, and let him please thee, too, Galatea, {though} I wish he could not; if only the opportunity is given, he shall find that I have strength proportioned to a body so vast. I will pull out his palpitating entrails; and I will scatter his torn limbs about the fields, and throughout thy waves, {and} thus let him be united to thee. For I burn: and my passion, {thus} slighted, rages with the greater fury; and I seem to be carrying in my breast AEtna, transferred there with {all} its flames; and yet, Galatea, thou art unmoved.'

"Having in vain uttered such complaints (for all this I saw), he rises; and like an enraged bull, when the heifer is taken away from him, he could not stand still, and he wandered in the wood, and the well known forests. When the savage {monster} espied me, and Acis unsuspecting and apprehensive of no such thing; and he exclaimed:— 'I see you, and I shall cause this to be the last union for your affection.' And that voice was as loud as an enraged Cyclop ought, {for his size}, to have. AEtna trembled at the noise; but I, struck with horror, plunged into the adjoining sea. The hero, son of Symaethis, turned his back and fled, and cried,— 'Help me, Galatea, I entreat thee; help me, ye parents {of hers}; and admit me, {now} on the point of destruction, within your realms.' The Cyclop pursued, and hurled a fragment, torn from the mountain; and though the extreme angle only of the rock reached him, yet it entirely crushed Acis. But I did the only thing that was allowed by the Fates to be done, that Acis might assume the properties of his grandsire. The purple blood flowed from beneath the rock, and in a little time the redness began to vanish; and at first it became the colour of a stream muddied by a shower; and, in time, it became clear. Then the rock, that had been thrown, opened, and through the chinks, a reed vigorous and stately arose, and the hollow mouth of the rock resounded with the waters gushing forth. And, wondrous event! a youth suddenly emerged, as far as the midriff, having his new-made horns encircled with twining reeds. And he, but that he was of larger stature, and azure in all his features, was Acis {still}. But, even then, still it was Acis, changed into a river; and the stream has since retained that ancient name."

[Footnote 68: The Phaeacians.—Ver. 719. The Phaeacians were the people of the Island of Corcyra (now Corfu), who were so called from Phaeax, the son of Neptune. This island was famous for the gardens of Alcinoues, which are mentioned in the Odyssey. The Corcyrans were the originators of the disastrous Peloponnesian war.]

[Footnote 69: Buthrotos.—Ver. 721. This was a city of Epirus, not far from Corcyra. It received its name from its founder.]

[Footnote 70: Galatea.—Ver. 738. She was a sea Nymph, the daughter of Nereus and Doris.]

[Footnote 71: Daughter of Crataeis.—Ver. 749. Crataeis was a river of Calabria, in Italy. Symaethis was a stream of Sicily, opposite to Calabria.]

[Footnote 72: The pine tree.—Ver. 782. By way of corroborating this assertion, Boccaccio tells us, that the body of Polyphemus was found in Sicily, his left hand grasping a walking-stick longer than the mast of a ship.]

[Footnote 73: Fairer than.—Ver. 789. This song of Polyphemus is, in some measure, imitated from that of the Cyclop, in the Eleventh Idyll of Theocritus.]

[Footnote 74: Snow-white privet.—Ver. 789. Hesiod says, that Galatea had her name from her extreme fairness; gala being the Greek word for milk. To this the Poet here alludes.]

[Footnote 75: Arbute tree.—Ver. 820. The fruit of the arbutus, or strawberry tree, were so extremely sour, that they were called, as Pliny the Elder tells us, 'unedones;' because people could not eat more than one. The tree itself was valued for the beauty and pleasing shade of its foliage.]

[Footnote 76: My figure.—Ver. 841. Virgil and Theocritus also represent Polyphemus as boasting of his good looks.]


Homer, who, in the ninth Book of the Odyssey, has entered fully into the subject of Polyphemus and the other Cyclops, does not recount this adventure, which Ovid has borrowed from Theocritus, the Sicilian poet. Some writers have suggested that Acis was a Sicilian youth, who, having met with a repulse from Galatea, threw himself into the river, which was afterwards called by his name. It is, however, more probable that this river was so called from the rapidity of its course. Indeed, the scholiast on Theocritus and Eustathius distinctly say that the stream was called Acis, because the swiftness of its course resembled that of an arrow, which was called akis, in the Greek language.

Homer, in describing the Cyclops, informs us that they were a lawless race, who, neglecting husbandry, lived on the spontaneous produce of a rich soil, and dwelling in mountain caves, devoted themselves entirely to the pleasures of a pastoral life. He says that they were men of monstrous stature, and had but one eye, in the middle of their forehead. Thucydides supposes them to have been the original inhabitants of Sicily. As their origin was unknown, it was said that they were the offspring of Neptune, or, in other words, that they had come by sea, to settle in Sicily. According to Justin, they retained possession of the island till the time of Cocalus; but in that point he disagrees with Homer, who represents them as being in the island after the time of Cocalus, who was a contemporary of Minos, and lived long before the Trojan war.

They inhabited the western parts of Sicily, near the promontories of Lilybaeum and Drepanum; and from that circumstance, according to Bochart, they received their name. He supposes that the Cyclopes were so called from the Phoenician compound word Chek-lub, contracted for Chek-le-lub, which, according to him, was the name of the Gulf of Lilybaeum. Because, in the Greek language kuklos signified 'a circle,' and ops, 'an eye,' it was given out that the name of Cyclops was given to them, because they had but one round eye in the middle of the forehead. It is possible that they may have acquired their character of being cannibals on true grounds, or, perhaps, only because they were noted for their extreme cruelty. Living near the volcanic mountain of AEtna, they were called the workmen of Vulcan; and Virgil describes them as forging the thunderbolts of Jupiter. Some writers represent them as having armed the three Deities, who divided the empire of the world: Jupiter with thunder; Pluto with his helmet; and Neptune with his trident. Statius represents them as the builders of the walls of Argos and Virgil as the founders of the gates of the Elysian fields. Aristotle supposes that they were the first builders of towers.

Diodorus Siculus and Tzetzes say that Polyphemus was king of a part of Sicily, when Ulysses landed there; who, falling in love with Elpe, the daughter of the king, carried her off. The Laestrygons, the neighbours of Polyphemus, pursued him, and obliged him to give up the damsel, who was brought back to her father. Ulysses, in relating the story to the Phaeacians, artfully concealed circumstances so little to his credit, and with impunity invented the absurdities which he related concerning a country to which his audience were utter strangers.

FABLE VIII. [XIII.898-968]

Glaucus having observed some fishes which he has laid upon the grass revive and leap again into the water, is desirous to try the influence of the grass on himself. Putting some of it into his mouth, he immediately becomes mad, and leaping into the sea, is transformed into a sea God.

Galatea ceases[77] speaking, and the company breaking up, they depart; and the Nereids swim in the becalmed waves. Scylla returns, (for, in truth, she does not trust herself in the midst of the ocean) and either wanders about without garments on the thirsty sand, or, when she is tired, having lighted upon some lonely recess of the sea, cools her limbs in the enclosed waves. {When}, lo! cleaving the deep, Glaucus comes, a new-made inhabitant of the deep sea, his limbs having been lately transformed at Anthedon,[78] near Euboea; and he lingers from passion for the maiden {now} seen, and utters whatever words he thinks may detain her as she flies. Yet still she flies, and, swift through fear, she arrives at the top of a mountain, situate near the shore.

In front of the sea, there is a huge ridge, terminating in one summit, bending for a long distance over the waves, {and} without trees. Here she stands, and secured by the place, ignorant whether he is a monster or a God, she both admires his colour, and his flowing hair that covers his shoulders and his back, and how a wreathed fish closes the extremity of his groin. {This} he perceives; and leaning upon a rock that stands hard by, he says, "Maiden, I am no monster, no savage beast; I am a God of the waters: nor have Proteus, and Triton, and Palaemon, the son of Athamas, a more uncontrolled reign over the deep. Yet formerly I was a mortal; but, still, devoted to the deep sea, even then was I employed in it. For, at one time, I used to drag the nets that swept up the fish; at another time, seated on a rock, I managed the line with the rod. The shore was adjacent to a verdant meadow, one part of which was surrounded with water, the other with grass, which, neither the horned heifers had hurt with their browsing, nor had you, ye harmless sheep, nor {you}, ye shaggy goats, {ever} cropped it. No industrious bee took {thence} the collected blossoms, no festive garlands were gathered thence for the head; and no mower's hands had ever cut it. I was the first to be seated on that turf, while I was drying the dripping nets. And that I might count in their order the fish that I had taken; I laid out those upon it which either chance had driven to my nets, or their own credulity to my barbed hooks.

"The thing is like a fiction (but of what use is it to me to coin fictions?); on touching the grass my prey began to move, and to shift their sides, and to skip about on the land, as though in the sea. And while I both paused and wondered, the whole batch flew off to the waves, and left behind their new master and the shore. I was amazed, and, in doubt for a long time, I considered what could be the cause; whether some Divinity had done this, or whether the juice of {some} herb. 'And yet,' said I, 'what herb has these properties?' and with my hand I plucked the grass, and I chewed it, {so} plucked, with my teeth. Hardly had my throat well swallowed the unknown juices, when I suddenly felt my entrails inwardly throb, and my mind taken possession of by the passions of another nature. Nor could I stay in {that} place; and I exclaimed, 'Farewell, land, never more to be revisited;' and plunged my body beneath the deep. The Gods of the sea vouchsafed me, on being received by them, kindred honours, and they entreated Oceanus and Tethys to take away from me whatever mortality I bore. By them was I purified; and a charm being repeated over me nine times, that washes away {all} guilt, I was commanded to put my breast beneath a hundred streams.

"There was no delay; rivers issuing from different springs, and whole seas, were poured over my head. Thus far I can relate to thee what happened worthy to be related, and thus far do I remember; but my understanding was not conscious of the rest. When it returned {to me}, I found myself different throughout all my body from what I was before, and not the same in mind. Then, for the first time, did I behold this beard, green with its deep colour, and my flowing hair, which I sweep along the spacious seas, and my huge shoulders, and my azurecoloured arms, and the extremities of my legs tapering in {the form of} a finny fish. But still, what does this form avail me, what to have pleased the ocean Deities, {and} what to be a God, if thou art not moved by these things?"

As he was saying such things as these, and about to say still more, Scylla left the God. He was enraged, and, provoked at the repulse, he repaired to the marvellous court of Circe, the daughter of Titan.

[Footnote 77: Ceases.—Ver. 898. 'Desierat Galatea loqui,' is translated by Clarke, 'Galatea gave over talking.']

[Footnote 78: Anthedon.—Ver. 905. Anthedon was a maritime city of Boeotia, only separated from the Island of Euboea, by the narrow strait of the Euripus.]


The ancient writers mention three persons of the name of Glaucus: one was the son of Minos, the second of Hippolochus, and the third is the one here mentioned. Strabo calls him the son of Polybus, while other writers make him to have been the son of Phorbas, and others of Neptune. Being drowned, perhaps by accident, to do honour to his memory, it was promulgated that he had become a sea God, and the city of Anthedon, of which he was a native, worshipped him as such.

Athenaeus says that he carried off Ariadne from the isle of Naxos, where Theseus had left her; on which Bacchus punished him by binding him to a vine. According to Diodorus Siculus, he appeared to the Argonauts, when overtaken by a storm. From Apollonius Rhodius we learn that he foretold to them that Hercules, and Castor and Pollux, would be received into the number of the Gods. It was also said, that in the battle which took place between Jason and the Tyrrhenians, he was the only person that escaped unwounded. Euripides, who is followed by Pausanias, says that he was the interpreter of Nereus, and was skilled in prophecy; and Nicander even says that it was from him that Apollo learned the art of prediction. Strabo and Philostratus say that he was metamorphosed into a Triton, which is a-kin to the description of his appearance here given by Ovid.

The place where he leaped into the sea was long remembered; and in the days of Pausanias 'Glaucus' Leap' was still pointed out by the people of Anthedon. It is not improbable that he drowned himself for some reason which tradition failed to hand down to posterity.


FABLE I. [XIV.1-74]

Circe becomes enamoured of Glaucus, who complains to her of his repulse by Scylla. She endeavours, without success, to make him desert Scylla for herself. In revenge, she poisons the fountain where the Nymph is wont to bathe, and communicates to her a hideous form; which is so insupportable to Scylla, that she throws herself into the sea, and is transformed into a rock.

And now {Glaucus}, the Euboean plougher of the swelling waves, had left behind AEtna, placed upon the jaws of the Giant, and the fields of the Cyclops, that had never experienced the harrow or the use of the plough, and that were never indebted to the yoked oxen; he had left Zancle, too, behind, and the opposite walls of Rhegium,[1] and the sea, abundant cause of shipwreck, which, confined by the two shores, bounds the Ausonian and the Sicilian lands. Thence, swimming with his huge hands through the Etrurian seas, Glaucus arrived at the grass-clad hills, and the halls of Circe, the daughter of the Sun, filled with various wild beasts. Soon as he beheld her, after salutations were given and received, he said, "Do thou, a Goddess, have compassion on me a God; for thou alone (should I only seem deserving of it,) art able to relieve this passion {of mine}. Daughter of Titan, by none is it better known how great is the power of herbs, than by me, who have been transformed by their agency; and, that the cause of my passion may not be unknown to thee, Scylla has been beheld by me on the Italian shores, opposite the Messenian walls. I am ashamed to recount my promises, my entreaties, my caresses, and my rejected suit. But, do thou, if there is any power in incantations, utter the incantation with thy holy lips; or, if {any} herb is more efficacious, make use of the proved virtues of powerful herbs. But I do not request thee to cure me, and to heal these wounds; and there is no necessity for an end {to them; but} let her share in the flame." But Circe, (for no one has a temper more susceptible of such a passion, whether it is that the cause of it originates in herself, or whether it is that Venus, offended[2] by her father's discovery, causes this,) utters such words as these:—

"Thou wilt more successfully court her who is willing, and who entertains similar desires, and who is captivated with an equal passion. Thou art worthy of it, and assuredly thou oughtst to be courted spontaneously; and, if thou givest any hopes, believe me, thou shalt be courted[3] spontaneously. That thou mayst entertain no doubts, or lest confidence in thy own beauty may not exist, behold! I who am both a Goddess, and the daughter of the radiant Sun, and am so potent with my charms, and so potent with my herbs, wish to be thine. Despise her who despises thee; her, who is attached to thee, repay by like attachment, and, by one act, take vengeance on two individuals."

Glaucus answered her, making such attempts as these,— "Sooner shall foliage grow in the ocean, and {sooner} shall sea-weed spring up on the tops of the mountains, than my affections shall change, while Scylla is alive." The Goddess is indignant; and since she is not able to injure him, and as she loves him she does not wish {to do so}, she is enraged against her, who has been preferred to herself; and, offended with these crosses in love, she immediately bruises herbs, infamous for their horrid juices, and, when bruised, she mingles with them the incantations of Hecate. She puts on azure vestments too, and through the troop of fawning wild beasts she issues from the midst of her hall; and making for Rhegium, opposite to the rocks of Zancle, she enters the waves boiling with the tides; on these, as though on the firm shore, she impresses her footsteps, and with dry feet she skims along the surface of the waves.

There was a little bay, curving in {the shape of} a bent bow, a favourite retreat of Scylla, whither she used to retire from the influence both of the sea and of the weather, when the sun was at its height in his mid career, and made the smallest shadow from the head {downwards}. This the Goddess infects beforehand, and pollutes it with monster-breeding drugs; on it she sprinkles the juices distilled from the noxious root, and thrice nine times, with her magic lips, she mutters over the mysterious charm, {enwrapt} in the dubious language of strange words.[4] Scylla comes; and she has {now} gone in up to the middle of her stomach, when she beholds her loins grow hideous with barking monsters; and, at first believing that they are no part of her own body, she flies from them and drives them off, and is in dread of the annoying mouths of the dogs; but those that she flies from, she carries along with {herself}; and as she examines the substance of her thighs, her legs, and her feet, she meets with Cerberean jaws in place of those parts. The fury of the dogs {still} continues, and the backs of savage {monsters} lying beneath her groin, cut short, and her prominent stomach, {still} adhere to them.

Glaucus, {still} in love, bewailed {her}, and fled from an alliance with Circe, who had {thus} too hostilely employed the potency of herbs. Scylla remained on that spot; and, at the first moment that an opportunity was given, in her hatred of Circe, she deprived Ulysses of his companions. Soon after, the same {Scylla} would have overwhelmed the Trojan ships, had she not been first transformed into a rock, which even now is prominent with its crags; {this} rock the sailor, too, avoids.

[Footnote 1: Rhegium.—Ver. 5. Rhegium was a city of Calabria, opposite to the coast of Sicily.]

[Footnote 2: Venus offended.—Ver. 27. The Sun, or Apollo, the father of Circe, as the Poet has already related in his fourth Book, betrayed the intrigues of Mars with Venus.]

[Footnote 3: Shalt be courted.—Ver. 31. She means that he shall be courted, but by herself.]

[Footnote 4: Of strange words.—Ver. 57. 'Obscurum verborum ambage novorum' is rendered by Clarke, 'Darkened with a long rabble of new words.']


According to Hesiod, Circe was the daughter of the Sun and of the Nymph Perse, and the sister of Pasiphae, the wife of Minos. Homer makes her the sister of AEetes, the king of Colchis, while other authors represent her as the daughter of that monarch, and the sister of Medea. Being acquainted with the properties of simples, and having used her art in mixing poisonous draughts, she was generally looked upon as a sorceress. Apollonius Rhodius says that she poisoned her husband, the king of the Sarmatians, and that her father Apollo rescued her from the rage of her subjects, by transporting her in his chariot into Italy. Virgil and Ovid say that she inhabited one of the promontories of Italy, which afterwards bore her name, and which at the present day is known by the name of Monte Circello.

It is not improbable that the person who went by the name of Circe was never in Colchis or Thrace, and that she was styled the sister of Medea, merely on account of the similarity of their characters; that they both were called daughters of the Sun, because they understood the properties of simples; and that their pretended enchantments were only a poetical mode of describing the effect of their beauty, which drew many suitors after them, who lost themselves in the dissipation of a voluptuous life. Indeed, Strabo says, and very judiciously, as it would seem, that Homer having heard persons mention the expedition of Jason to Colchis, and hearing the stories of Medea and Circe, he took occasion to say, from the resemblance of their characters, that they were sisters.

According to some authors, Scylla was the daughter of Phorcys and Hecate; but as other writers say, of Typhon. Homer describes her in the following terms:— 'She had a voice like that of a young whelp; no man, not even a God, could behold her without horror. She had twelve feet, six long necks, and at the end of each a monstrous head, whose mouth was provided with a triple row of teeth.' Another ancient writer says, that these heads were those of an insect, a dog, a lion, a whale, a Gorgon, and a human being. Virgil has in a great measure followed the description given by Homer. Between Messina and Reggio there is a narrow strait, where high crags project into the sea on each side. The part on the Sicilian side was called Charybdis, and that on the Italian shore was named Scylla. This spot has ever been famous for its dangerous whirlpools, and the extreme difficulty of its navigation. Several rapid currents meeting there, and the tide running through the strait with great impetuosity, the sea sends forth a dismal noise, not unlike that of the howling or barking of dogs, as Virgil has expressed it, in the words, 'Multis circum latrantibus undis.'

Palaephatus and Fusebius, not satisfied with the story being based on such simple facts, assert that Scylla was a ship that belonged to certain Etrurian pirates, who used to infest the coasts of Sicily, and that it had the figure of a woman carved on its head, whose lower parts were surrounded with dogs. According to these writers, Ulysses escaped them; and then, using the privileges of a traveller, told the story to the credulous Phaeacians in the marvellous terms in which Homer has related it. Bochart, however, says that the two names were derived from the Phoenician language, in which 'Scol,' the root of Scylla, signified 'a ruin,' and Charybdis, 'a gulf.'

FABLE II. [XIV.75-100]

Dido entertains AEneas in her palace, and falls in love with him. He afterwards abandons her, on which she stabs herself in despair. Jupiter transforms the Cercopes into apes; and the islands which they inhabit are afterwards called 'Pithecusae,' from the Greek word signifying 'an ape.'

After the Trojan ships, with their oars, had passed by her and the ravening Charybdis; when now they had approached near the Ausonian shores, they were carried back by the winds[5] to the Libyan coasts. The Sidonian {Dido}, she who was doomed not easily to endure the loss of her Phrygian husband, received AEneas, both in her home and her affection; on the pile, too, erected under the pretext of sacred rites, she fell upon the sword; and, {herself} deceived, she deceived all. Again, flying from the newly erected walls of the sandy regions, and being carried back to the seat of Eryx and the attached Acestes, he performs sacrifice, and pays honour[6] to the tomb of his father. He now loosens {from shore} the ships which Iris, the minister of Juno, has almost burned; and passes by the realms of the son of Hippotas, and the regions that smoke with the heated sulphur, and leaves behind him the rocks of the Sirens,[7] daughters of Acheloues; and the ship, deprived of its pilot,[8] coasts along Inarime[9] and Prochyta,[10] and Pithecusae, situate on a barren hill, so called from the name of its inhabitants.

For the father of the Gods, once abhorring the frauds and perjuries of the Cercopians, and the crimes of the fraudulent race, changed these men into ugly animals; that these same beings might be able to appear unlike men, and yet like them. He both contracted their limbs, and flattened their noses; bent back from their foreheads; and he furrowed their faces with the wrinkles of old age. And he sent them into this spot, with the whole of their bodies covered with long yellow hair. Moreover, he first took away from them the use of language, and of their tongues, made for dreadful perjury; he only allowed them to be able to complain with a harsh jabbering.

[Footnote 5: By the winds.—Ver. 77. The storm in which AEneas is cast upon the shores of Africa forms the subject of part of the first Book of the AEneid.]

[Footnote 6: And pays honour.—Ver. 84. The annual games which AEneas instituted at the tomb of his father, in Sicily, are fully described in the fifth Book of the AEneid.]

[Footnote 7: The Sirens.—Ver. 87. The Sirens were said to have been the daughters of the river Acheloues. Their names are Parthenope, Lysia, and Leucosia.]

[Footnote 8: Deprived of its pilot.—Ver. 88. This was Palinurus, who, when asleep, fell overboard, and was drowned. See the end of the fifth Book of the AEneid.]

[Footnote 9: Inarime.—Ver. 89. This was an island not far from the coast of Campania, which was also called Ischia and AEnaria. The word 'Inarime' is thought to have been coined by Virgil, from the expression of Homer, ein Arimois, when speaking of it, as that writer is the first who is found to use it, and is followed by Ovid, Lucan, and others. Strabo tells us, that 'aremus' was the Etrurian name for an ape; if so, the name of this spot may account for the name of Pithecusae, the adjoining islands, if the tradition here related by the Poet really existed. Pliny the Elder, however, says that Pithecusae were so called from pithos, an earthern cask, or vessel, as there were many potteries there.]

[Footnote 10: Prochyta.—Ver. 89. This island was said to have been torn away from the isle of Inarime by an earthquake; for which reason it received its name from the Greek verb procheo, which means 'to pour forth.']


Although Ovid passes over the particulars of the visit of AEneas to Dido, and only mentions her death incidentally, we may give a few words to a story which has been rendered memorable by the beautiful poem of Virgil. Elisa, or Dido, was the daughter of Belus, king of Tyre. According to Justin, at his death he left his crown to his son Pygmalion jointly with Dido, who was a woman of extraordinary beauty. She was afterwards married to her uncle Sicharbas, who is called Sichaeus by Virgil. Being priest of Hercules, an office next in rank to that of king, he was possessed of immense treasures, which the known avarice of Pygmalion caused him to conceal in the earth. Pygmalion having caused him to be assassinated, at which Dido first expressed great resentment, she afterwards pretended a reconciliation, the better to cover the design which she had formed to escape from the kingdom.

Having secured the cooperation of several of the discontented Tyrians, she requested permission to visit Tyre, and to leave her melancholy retreat, where every thing contributed to increase her misery by recalling the remembrance of her deceased husband. Hoping to seize her treasures, Pygmalion granted her request. Putting her wealth on board ship, she mixed some bags filled with sand among those that contained gold, for the purpose of deceiving those whom the king had sent to observe her and to escort her to Tyre. When out at sea, she threw the bags overboard, to appease the spirit of her husband, as she pretended, by sacrificing those treasures that had cost him his life. Then addressing the officers that accompanied her, she assured them that they would meet with but a bad reception from the king for having permitted so much wealth to be wasted, and that it would be more advantageous for them to fly from his resentment. The officers embarking in her design, after they had taken on board some Tyrian nobles, who were privy to the plan, she offered sacrifice to Hercules, and again set sail. Landing in Cyprus, they carried off eighty young women, who were married to her companions. On discovering her flight, Pygmalion at first intended to pursue her; but the intreaties of his mother, and the remonstrances of the priests, caused him to abandon his design.

Having arrived on the coast of Africa, Dido bargained with the inhabitants of the coast for as much ground as she could encompass with a bull's hide. This being granted, she cut the hide into as many thongs as enclosed ground sufficient to build a fort upon; which was in consequence called 'Byrsa.' In making the foundation, an ox's head was dug up, which being supposed to portend slavery to the city, if built there, they removed to another spot, where, in digging, they found a horse's head, which was considered to be a more favourable omen. The story of the citadel being named from the bull's hide was very probably invented by the Greeks; who, finding in the Phoenician narrative of the foundation of Carthage, the citadel mentioned by the Tyrian name of 'Bostra,' which had that signification, and fancying, from its resemblance to their word bursa, that it was derived from it, invented the fable of the hide.

Being pressed by Iarbas, king of Mauritania, to marry him, she asked for three months to come to a determination. The time expiring, she ordered a sacrifice to be made as an expiation to her husband's shade, and caused a pile to be erected, avowedly for the purpose of burning all that belonged to him. Ascending it, she pretended to expedite the sacrifice, and then despatched herself with a poniard. Virgil, wishing to deduce the hatred of the Romans and Carthaginians from the very time of AEneas, invented the story of the visit of AEneas to Dido; though he was perhaps guilty of a great anachronism in so doing, as the taking of Troy most probably preceded the foundation of Carthage by at least two centuries. Ovid has also related her story at length in the third book of the Fasti, and has followed Virgil's account of the treacherous conduct of AEneas, while he represents Iarbas as capturing her city after her death, and driving her sister Anna into exile. In the Phoenician language the word 'Dido' signified 'the bold woman,' and it is probable that Elisa only received that name after her death. Bochart has taken considerable pains to prove that she was the aunt of Jezebel, the famous, or rather infamous, wife of King Ahab.

The Poet then proceeds to say that AEneas saw the islands of the Cercopians on his way, whom Jupiter had transformed into apes. AEschines and Suidas say that there were two notorious robbers, inhabitants of an island adjacent to Sicily, named Candulus and Atlas, who committed outrages on all who approached the island. Being about to insult Jupiter himself, he transformed them into apes, from which circumstance the island received its name of Pithecusa. Sabinus says that they were called Cercopes, because in their treachery they were like monkeys, who fawn with their tails, when they design nothing but mischief. Zenobius places the Cercopes in Libya; and says that they were changed into rocks, for having offered to fight with Hercules.

FABLE III. [XIV.101-153]

Apollo is enamoured of the Sibyl, and, to engage her affection, offers her as many years as she can grasp grains of sand. She forgets to ask that she may always continue in the bloom of youth, and consequently becomes gray and decrepit.

After he has passed by these, and has left the walls of Parthenope[11] on the right hand, on the left side he {approaches} the tomb of the tuneful son of AEolus[12]; and he enters the shores of Cumae, regions abounding in the sedge of the swamp, and the cavern of the long-lived Sibyl[13], and entreats {her}, that through Avernus, he may visit the shade of his father. But she raises her countenance, a long time fixed on the ground; and at length, inspired by the influence of the God, she says, "Thou dost request a great thing, O hero, most renowned by thy achievements, whose right hand has been proved by the sword, whose affection {has been proved} by the flames. Yet, Trojan, lay aside {all} apprehension, thou shalt obtain thy request; and under my guidance thou shalt visit the abodes of Elysium, the most distant realms of the universe, and the beloved shade of thy parent. To virtue, no path is inaccessible."

{Thus} she spoke, and she pointed out a branch refulgent with gold, in the woods of the Juno of Avernus[14], and commanded him to pluck it from its stem. AEneas obeyed; and he beheld the power of the dread Orcus, and his own ancestors, and the aged ghost of the magnanimous Anchises; he learned, too, the ordinances of {those} regions, and what dangers would have to be undergone by him in his future wars. Tracing back thence his weary steps along the path, he beguiled his labour in discourse with his Cumaean guide. And while he was pursuing his frightful journey along darkening shades, he said, "Whether thou art a Goddess personally, or whether {thou art but a woman} most favoured by the Deities, to me shalt thou always be equal to a Divinity; I will confess, too, that I exist through thy kindness, who hast willed that I should visit the abodes of death, and that I should escape those abodes of death {when} beheld {by me}. For this kindness, when I have emerged into the breezes of the air, I will erect a temple to thee, {and} I will give thee the honours of frankincense."

The prophetess looks upon him, and, with heaving sighs, she says, "Neither am I a Goddess, nor do thou honour a human being with the tribute of the holy frankincense. And, that thou mayst not err in ignorance, life eternal and without end was offered me, had my virginity but yielded to Phoebus, in love {with me}. But while he was hoping for this, while he was desiring to bribe me beforehand with gifts, he said: 'Maiden of Cumae, choose whatever thou mayst wish, thou shalt gain thy wish.' I, pointing to a heap of collected dust, inconsiderately asked that as many birth-days might be my lot, as the dust contained particles. It escaped me to desire as well, at the same time, years vigorous with youth. But yet he offered me these, and eternal youth, had I submitted to his desires. Having rejected the offers of Phoebus, I remain unmarried. But now my more vigorous years have passed by, and crazy old age approaches with its trembling step, and this must I long endure.

"For thou beholdest me, having now lived seven ages; it remains for me to equal the number of particles of the dust; {yet} to behold three hundred harvests, {and} three hundred vintages. The time will come, when length of days will make me diminutive from a person so large; and when my limbs, wasted by old age, will be reduced to the most trifling weight. {Then} I shall not seem to have {once} been beloved, nor {once} to have pleased a God. Even Phoebus himself will, perhaps, not recognize me; or, {perhaps}, he will deny that he loved me. To that degree shall I be said to be changed; and though perceived by none, I shall still be recognized by my voice. My voice the Destinies will leave me."

[Footnote 11: Parthenope.—Ver. 101. The city of Naples, or Neapolis, was called Parthenope from the Siren of that name, who was said to have been buried there.]

[Footnote 12: Son of AEolus.—Ver. 103. Misenus, the trumpeter, was said to have been the son of AEolus. From him the promontory Misenum received its name.]

[Footnote 13: Long-lived Sibyl.—Ver. 104. The Sibyls were said by some to have their name from the fact of their revealing the will of the Deities, as in the AEolian dialect, Sios was 'a God,' and boule was the Greek for 'will.' According to other writers, they were so called from Siou bulle, 'full of the Deity.']

[Footnote 14: Juno of Avernus.—Ver. 114. The Infernal, or Avernian Juno, is a title sometimes given by the poets to Proserpine.]


The early fathers of the church, and particularly Justin, in their works in defence of Christianity, made use of the Sibylline verses of the ancients. The Emperor Constantine, too, in his harangue before the Nicene Council, quoted them, as redounding to the advantage of Christianity; although he then stated that many persons did not believe that the Sibyls were the authors of them. St. Augustin, too, employs several of their alleged predictions to enforce the truths of the Christian religion.

Sebastian Castalio has warmly maintained the truth of the oracles contained in these verses, though he admits that they have been very much interpolated. Other writers, however, having carefully examined them, have pronounced them to be spurious, and so many pious frauds; which, perhaps, may be pronounced to be the general opinion at the present day. We will, however, shortly enquire how many Sibyls of antiquity there were, and when they lived; whether any of their works were ever promulgated for the perusal of the public, and whether the verses which still exist under their name have any ground to be considered genuine.

There is no doubt but that in ancient times there existed certain women, who, led by a frenzied enthusiasm, uttered obscure sentences, which passed for predictions with the credulous people who went to consult them. Virgil and Ovid represent AEneas as going to the cave of the Cumaean Sibyl, to learn from her the success of the wars he should be engaged in. Plato, Strabo, Plutarch, Pliny, Solinus, and Pausanias, with many other writers, have mentioned the Sibyls; and it would be absurd, with Faustus Socinus, to affirm that no Sibyls ever existed. Indeed, Plato and other authors of antiquity go so far as to say, that by their productions they were essentially the benefactors of mankind. Some mention but one Sibyl, who was born either at Babylon or at Erythrae, in Phrygia. Diodorus Siculus mentions one only, and assigns Delphi as her locality, calling her by the name of Daphne. Strabo and Stephanus Byzantinus mention two, the one of Gergae, a little town near Troy, and the other of Mermessus, in the same country. Solinus reckons three; the Delphian, named Herophile, the Erythraean, and the Cumaean. According to Varro, their number amounted to ten, whose names, in the order of time which Pausanias assigns them, were as follows:

The first and the most ancient was the Delphian, who lived before the Trojan war. The second was the Erythraean, who was said to have been the first composer of acrostic verses, and who also lived before the Trojan war. The third was the Cumaean, who was mentioned by Naevius in his book on the first Punic war, and by Piso in his annals. She is the Sibyl spoken of in the AEneid, and her name was Deiphobe. The fourth was the Samian, called Pitho, though Eusebius calls her Herophile, and he makes her to have lived about the time of Numa Pompilius. The fifth, whose name was Amalthea, or Demophile, lived at Cumae, in Asia Minor. The sixth was the Hellespontine Sibyl, born at Mermessus, near Troy. The seventh was the Libyan, mentioned by Euripides. Some suppose that she was the first who had the name of Sibyl, which was given to her by the people of Africa. The eighth was the Persian or Babylonian Sibyl, whom Suidas names Sambetha. The ninth was the Phrygian, who delivered her oracles at Ancyra, in Phrygia. The tenth was the Tiburtine, who was called Albunea, and prophesied near Tibur, or Tivoli, on the banks of the Anio. In the present story Ovid evidently intends to represent these various Sibyls as being the same person; and to account for her prolonged existence, by representing that Apollo had granted her a life to last for many ages.

Several ages before the Christian era, the Romans had a collection of verses, which were commonly attributed to the Sibyls. These they often consulted; and in the time of Tarquinius Superbus, two officers were appointed for the purpose of keeping the Sibylline books, whose business it was to look in them on the occasion of any public calamity, in order to see whether it had been foretold and to make their report to the Senate. The books were kept in a stone chest, beneath the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. These Duumvirs continued until the year of Rome 388, when eight others being added, they formed the College of the Decemvirs. About eighty-three years before the Christian era five other keepers of these books were added, who thus formed the body called the Quindecimvirs.

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Aulus Gellius, Servius, and many other writers, state the following as the origin of the Sibylline books. An aged woman presented to Tarquinius Superbus three books that contained the oracles of the Sibyls, and demanded a large sum for them. The king refusing to buy them, she went and burned them; and returning, asked the same price for the remaining six, as she had done for the original number. Being again repulsed, she burnt three more, and coming back again, demanded the original price for the three that remained. Astonished at the circumstance, the king bought the books. Pliny and Solinus vary the story a little, in saying that the woman at first presented but three books, and that she destroyed two of them.

It is generally supposed, that on the burning of the Capitol, about eighty-three years before the Christian era, the Sibylline books of Tarquinius Superbus were destroyed in the flames. To repair the loss, the Romans despatched officers to various cities of Italy, and even to Asia and Africa, to collect whatever they could find, under the name of Sibylline oracles. P. Gabinius, M. Ottacilius, and L. Valerius brought back a large collection, of which the greater part was rejected, and the rest committed to the care of the Quindecimvirs. Augustus ordered a second revision of them; and, after a severe scrutiny, those which were deemed to be genuine, were deposited in a box, under a statue of Apollo Palatinus. Tiberius again had them examined, and some portion of them was then rejected. Finally, about the year A.D. 399, Stilcho, according to Rutilius Numatianus, or rather, the Emperor Honorius himself, ordered them to be burnt.

The so-called collection of Sibylline verses which now exists is generally looked upon as spurious; or if any part is genuine, it bears so small a proportion to the fictitious portion, that it has shared in the condemnation. Indeed, their very distinctness stamps them as forgeries; for they speak of the mysteries of Christianity in undisguised language, and the names of our Saviour and the Virgin Mary occur as openly as they do in the Holy Scriptures.

It is a singular assertion of St. Jerome, that the gift of prophecy was a reward to the Sibyls for their chastity. If such was the condition, we have a right to consider that the Deities were very partial in the distribution of their rewards, and in withholding them from the multitudes who, we are bound in charity to believe, were as deserving as the Sibyls themselves of the gift of vaticination.

FABLE IV. [XIV.154-247]

AEneas arrives at Caieta, in Italy. Achaemenides, an Ithacan, who is on board his ship, meets his former companion Macareus there; and relates to him his escape from being devoured by Polyphemus. Macareus afterwards tells him how Ulysses had received winds from AEolus in a hide, and by that means had a prosperous voyage; till, on the bag being opened by the sailors in their curiosity, the winds rushed out, and raised a storm that drove them back to AEolia, and afterwards upon the coast of the Laestrygons.

While the Sibyl was relating such things as these, during the steep ascent, the Trojan AEneas emerged from the Stygian abodes to the Euboean city,[15] and the sacrifice being performed, after the usual manner, he approached the shores that not yet bore the name of his nurse;[16] here, too, Macareus of Neritos, the companion of the experienced Ulysses, had rested, after the prolonged weariness of his toils. He recognized Achaemenides, once deserted in the midst of the crags of AEtna; and astonished that, thus unexpectedly found again, he was yet alive, he said, "What chance, or what God, Achaemenides, preserves thee? why is a barbarian[17] vessel carrying {thee}, a Greek? What land is sought by thy bark?"

No longer ragged in his clothing, {but} now his own {master},[18] and wearing clothes tacked together with no thorns, Achaemenides says, "Again may I behold Polyphemus, and those jaws streaming with human blood, if my home and Ithaca be more delightful to me than this bark; if I venerate AEneas any less than my own father. And, though I were to do everything {possible}, I could never be sufficiently grateful. 'Tis he that has caused that I speak, and breathe, and behold the heavens and the luminary of the sun; and can I be ungrateful, and forgetful of this? {'Tis through him} that this life of mine did not fall into the jaws of the Cyclop; and though I were, even now, to leave the light of life, I should either be buried in a tomb, or, at least, not in that paunch {of his}. What were my feelings at that moment (unless, indeed, terror deprived me of all sense and feeling), when, left behind, I saw you making for the open sea? I wished to shout aloud, but I was fearful of betraying myself to the enemy; the shouts of Ulysses were very nearly causing[19] the destruction of even your ship. I beheld him when, having torn up a mountain, he hurled the immense rock in the midst of the waves; again I beheld him hurling huge stones, with his giant arms, just as though impelled by the powers of the engine of war. And, forgetful that I was not in it, I was now struck with horror lest the waves or the stones might overwhelm the ship.

"But when your flight had saved you from a cruel death, he, indeed, roaring with rage, paced about all AEtna, and groped out the woods with his hands, and, deprived of his eye, stumbled against the rocks; and stretching out his arms, stained with gore, into the sea, he cursed the Grecian race, and he said, 'Oh! that any accident would bring back Ulysses to me, or any one of his companions, against whom my anger might find vent, whose entrails I might devour, whose living limbs I might mangle with my right hand, whose blood might drench my throat, whose crushed members might quiver beneath my teeth: how insignificant, or how trifling, {then}, would be the loss of my sight, that has been taken from me!' This, and more, he said in his rage. Ghastly horror took possession of me, as I beheld his features, streaming even yet with blood, and the ruthless hands, and the round space deprived of the eye, and his limbs, and his beard matted with human blood. Death was before my eyes, {and} yet that was the least of my woes. I imagined that[20] now he was about to seize hold of me, and that now he was on the very point of swallowing my vitals within his own; in my mind was fixed the impress of that time when I beheld two bodies of my companions three or four times dashed against the ground. Throwing himself on the top of them, just like a shaggy lion, he stowed away their entrails, their flesh, their bones with the white marrow, and their quivering limbs, in his ravenous paunch. A trembling seized me; in my alarm I stood without blood {in my features}, as I beheld him both chewing and belching out his bloody banquet from his mouth, and vomiting pieces mingled with wine; {and} I fancied that such a doom was in readiness for wretched me.

"Concealing myself for many a day, and trembling at every sound, and both fearing death and {yet} desirous to die, satisfying hunger with acorns, and with grass mixed with leaves, alone, destitute, desponding, abandoned to death and destruction, after a length of time, I beheld a ship not far off; by signs I prayed for deliverance, and I ran down to the shore; I prevailed; and a Trojan ship received me, a Greek. Do thou too, dearest of my companions, relate thy adventures, and those of thy chief, and of the company, which, together with thee, entrusted {themselves} to the ocean."

The other relates how that AEolus rules over the Etrurian seas; AEolus, the grandson of Hippotas, who confines the winds in their prison, which the Dulichean chief had received, shut up in a leather {bag}, a wondrous gift; how, with a favouring breeze, he had proceeded for nine days, and had beheld the land he was bound for; {and how}, when the first morning after the ninth had arrived, his companions, influenced by envy and a desire for booty, supposing it to be gold, had cut the fastenings of the winds; {and how}, through these, the ship had gone back along the waves through which it had just come, and had returned to the harbour of the AEolian king.

"Thence," said he, "we came to the ancient city[21] of Lamus, the Laestrygon. Antiphates was reigning in that land. I was sent to him, two in number accompanying me; and with difficulty was safety procured by me and one companion, by flight; the third of us stained the accursed jaws of the Laestrygon with his blood. Antiphates pursued us as we fled, and called together his followers; they flocked together, and, without intermission, they showered both stones and beams, and they overwhelmed men, and ships, too, did they overwhelm; yet one, which carried us and Ulysses himself, escaped. A part of our companions {thus} lost, grieving and lamenting much we arrived at those regions which thou perceivest afar hence. Look! afar hence thou mayst perceive an island,[22] that has been seen by me; and do thou, most righteous of the Trojans, thou son of a Goddess, (for, since the war is ended, thou art not, AEneas, to be called an enemy) I warn thee—avoid the shores of Circe."

[Footnote 15: Euboean city.—Ver. 155. 'Cumae' was said to have been founded by a colony from Chalcis, in Euboea.]

[Footnote 16: Of his nurse.—Ver. 157. Caieta was the name of the nurse of AEneas, who was said to have been buried there by him.]

[Footnote 17: Barbarian.—Ver. 163. That is, Trojan; to the Greeks all people but themselves were barbaroi.]

[Footnote 18: His own master.—Ver. 166. 'Now his own master,' in contradistinction to the time when Macareus looked on himself as the devoted victim of Polyphemus.]

[Footnote 19: Nearly causing.—Ver. 181. Homer, in the Ninth Book of the Odyssey, recounts how Ulysses, after having put out the eye of Polyphemus, fled to his own ship, and when the Giant followed, called out to him, disclosing his real name; whereas, he had before told the Cyclop that his name was outis, 'nobody.' By this indiscreet action, the Cyclop was able to ascertain the locality of the ship, and nearly sank it with a mass of rock which he hurled in that direction.]

[Footnote 20: I imagined that.—Ver. 203-4. 'Et jam prensurum, jam, jam mea viscera rebar In sua mersurum.' Clarke thus renders these words; 'And now I thought he would presently whip me up, and cram my bowels within his own.']

[Footnote 21: The ancient city.—Ver. 233. This city was afterwards known as Formiae, in Campania.]

[Footnote 22: An island.—Ver. 245. Macareus here points towards the promontory of Circaeum, which was supposed to have formerly been an island.]


AEolus, according to Servius and Varro, was the son of Hippotas, and about the time of the Trojan war reigned in those islands, which were formerly called 'Vulcaniae,' but were afterwards entitled 'AEoliae,' and are now known as the Lipari Islands. Homer mentions only one of these islands, which were seven in number. He calls it by the name of AEolia, and probably means the one which was called Lipara, and gave its name to the group, and which is now known as Strombolo. AEolus seems to have been a humane prince, who received with hospitality those who had the misfortune to be cast on his island. Diodorus Siculus says that he was especially careful to warn strangers of the shoals and dangerous places in the neighbouring seas. Pliny adds, that he applied himself to the study of the winds, by observing the direction of the smoke of the volcanos, with which the isles abounded.

Being considered as an authority on that subject, at a time when navigation was so little reduced to an art, the poets readily feigned that he was the master of the winds, and kept them pent up in caverns, under his control. The story of the winds being entrusted to Ulysses, which Ovid here copies from Homer, is merely a poetical method of saying, that Ulysses disregarded the advice of AEolus, and staying out at sea beyond the time he had been recommended, was caught in a violent tempest. It is possible that Homer may allude to some custom which prevailed among the ancients, similar to that of the Lapland witches in modern times, who pretend to sell a favourable wind, enclosed in a bag, to mariners. Homer speaks of the six sons and six daughters of AEolus; perhaps they were the twelve principal winds, upon which he had expended much pains in making accurate observations.

Bochart suggests that the isle of Lipara was called by the Phoenicians 'Nibara,' on account of its volcano, (that word signifying 'a torch,') which name was afterwards corrupted to Lipara.

FABLE V. [XIV.248-319]

Achaemenides lands in the isle of Circe, and is sent to her palace with some of his companions. Giving them a favourable reception, she makes them drink of a certain liquor; and, on her touching them with a wand, they are immediately transformed into swine. Eurylochus, who has refused to drink, informs Ulysses, who immediately repairs to the palace, and obliges Circe to restore to his companions their former shape.

"We, too, having fastened our ships to the shores of Circe, remembering Antiphates and the cruel Cyclop, refused to go and enter her unknown abode. By lot were we chosen; that lot sent both me and the faithful Polytes, and Eurylochus, and Elpenor, too much addicted[23] to wine, and twice nine[24] companions, to the walls of Circe. Soon as we reached them, and stood at the threshold of her abode; a thousand wolves, and bears and lionesses mixed with the wolves, created fear through meeting them; but not one {of them} needed to be feared, and not one was there to make a wound on our bodies. They wagged their caressing tails in the air, and fawning, they attended our footsteps, until the female servants received us, and led us, through halls roofed with marble, to their mistress.

"She is sitting in a beautiful alcove, on her wonted throne, and clad in a splendid robe; over it she is arrayed in a garment of gold tissue. The Nereids and the Nymphs, together, who tease no fleeces with the motion of their fingers nor draw out the ductile threads, are placing the plants in due order, and arranging in baskets the flowers confusedly scattered, and the shrubs variegated in their hues. She herself prescribes the tasks that they perform; she herself is aware what is the use of every leaf; what combined virtue there is in them when mixed; and giving attention, she examines {each} herb as weighed.[25] When she beheld us, having given and received a salutation, she gladdened her countenance, and granted every thing to our wishes. And without delay, she ordered the grains of parched barley to be mingled, and honey, and the strength of wine, and curds with pressed milk. Secretly, she added drugs to be concealed beneath this sweetness. We received the cups presented by her sacred right hand. Soon as, in our thirst, we quaffed them with parching mouth, and the ruthless Goddess, with her wand, touched the extremity of our hair (I am both ashamed, and {yet} I will tell of it), I began to grow rough with bristles, and no longer to be able to speak; and, instead of words, to utter a harsh noise, and to grovel on the ground with all my face. I felt, too, my mouth receive a hard skin, with its crooked snout, and my neck swell with muscles; and with the member with which, the moment before, I had received the cup, with the same did I impress my footsteps.

"With the rest who had suffered the same treatment (so powerful are enchanted potions) I was shut up in a pig-sty; and we perceived that Eurylochus, alone, had not the form of a swine; he, alone, escaped the proffered draught. And had he not escaped it, I should even, at this moment, have still been one of the bristle-clad animals; nor would Ulysses, having been informed by him of so direful a disaster, have come to Circe as {our} avenger. The Cyllenian peace-bearer had given him a white flower; the Gods above call it 'Moly;'[26] it is supported by a black root. Protected by that, and at the same time by the instruction of the inhabitants of heaven, he entered the dwelling of Circe, and being invited to the treacherous draughts, he repelled her, while endeavouring to stroke his hair with her wand, and prevented her, in her terror, with his drawn sword. Upon that, her promise {was given}, and right hands were exchanged; and, being received into her couch, he required the bodies of his companions as his marriage gift.

"We are {then} sprinkled with the more favouring juices of harmless plants, and are smitten on the head with a blow from her inverted wand; and charms are repeated, the converse of the charms that had been uttered. The longer she chaunts them, the more erect are we raised from the ground; and the bristles fall off, and the fissure leaves our cloven feet; our shoulders return; our arms become attached[27] to their upper parts. In tears, we embrace him {also} in tears; and we cling to the neck of our chief; nor do we utter any words before those that testify that we are grateful.

"The space of a year detained us there; and, as {I was} present for such a length of time, I saw many things; and many things I heard with my ears. This, too, among many other things {I heard}, which one of the four handmaids appointed for such rites, privately informed me of. For while Circe was passing her time apart with my chief, she pointed out to me a youthful statue made of snow-white marble, carrying a woodpecker on its head, erected in the hallowed temple, and bedecked with many a chaplet. When I asked, and desired to know who he was, and why he was venerated in the sacred temple, and why he carried that bird; she said:— 'Listen, Macareus, learn hence, too, what is the power of my mistress, and give attention to what I say.'"

[Footnote 23: Too much addicted.—Ver. 252. He alludes to the fate of Elpenor, who afterwards, in a fit of intoxication, fell down stairs, and broke his neck.]

[Footnote 24: Twice nine.—Ver. 253. Homer mentions Eurylochus and twenty-two others as the number, being one more than the number here given by Ovid.]

[Footnote 25: As weighed.—Ver. 270. Of course drugs and simples would require to be weighed before being mixed in their due proportions.]

[Footnote 26: Call it 'Moly.'—Ver. 292. Homer, in the tenth Book of the Odyssey, says that this plant had a black root, and a flower like milk.]

[Footnote 27: Become attached.—Ver. 304-5. 'Subjecta lacertis Brachia sunt,' Clarke has not a very lucid translation of these words. His version is, 'Brachia are put under our lacerti.' The 'brachium' was the forearm, or part, from the wrist to the elbow; while the 'lacertus' was the muscular part, between the elbow and the shoulder.]


Ulysses having stayed some time at the court of Circe, where all were immersed in luxury and indolence, begins to reflect on the degraded state to which he is reduced, and resolutely abandons so unworthy a mode of life. This resolution is here typified by the herb moly, the symbol of wisdom. His companions, changed into swine, are emblems of the condition to which a life of sensuality reduces its votaries; while the wolves, lions, and horses show that man in such a condition fails not to exhibit the various bad propensities of the brute creation. Thus was the prodigal son, mentioned in the New Testament, reduced to a level with the brutes, 'and fain would have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat.'

It is not improbable that Circe was the original from which the Eastern romancer depicted the enchantress queen Labe in the story of Beder and Giauhare in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments. They were both ladies of light reputation, both fond of exercising their magical power on strangers, and in exactly the same manner: and as Ulysses successfully resisted the charms of Circe, so Beder thwarted the designs of Labe; but here the parallel ends.

FABLE VI. [XIV.320-440]

Circe, being enamoured of Picus, and being unable to shake his constancy to his wife Canens, transforms him into a woodpecker, and his retinue into various kinds of animals. Canens pines away with grief at the loss of her husband, and the place where she disappears afterwards bears her name.

"'Picus, the son of Saturn, was a king in the regions of Ausonia, an admirer of horses useful in warfare. The form of this person was such as thou beholdest. Thou thyself {here} mayst view his comeliness, and thou mayst approve of his real form from this feigned resemblance of it. His disposition was equal to his beauty; and not yet, in his age, could he have beheld four times the {Olympic} contest celebrated each fifth year in the Grecian Elis. He had attracted, by his {good} looks, the Dryads, born in the hills of Latium; the Naiads, the fountain Deities, wooed him; {Nymphs}, which Albula,[28] and which the waters of Numicus, and which those of Anio, and Almo but very short[29] in its course, and the rapid Nar,[30] and Farfarus,[31] with its delightful shades, produced, and those which haunt the forest realms of the Scythian[32] Diana, and the neighbouring streams.

"'Yet, slighting all these, he was attached to one Nymph, whom, on the Palatine hill, Venilia is said once to have borne to the Ionian Janus.[33] Soon as she was ripe with marriageable years, she was presented to Laurentine Picus, preferred {by her} before all others; wondrous, indeed, was she in her beauty, but more wondrous still, through her skill in singing; thence she was called Canens.[34] She was wont, with her voice, to move the woods and the rocks, and to tame the wild beasts, and to stop {the course of} the long rivers, and to detain the fleeting birds. While she was singing her songs with her feminine voice, Picus had gone from his dwelling into the Laurentine fields, to pierce the wild boars there bred; and he was pressing the back of his spirited horse, and was carrying two javelins in his left hand, having a purple cloak fastened with yellow gold. The daughter of the Sun, too, had come into the same wood; and that she might pluck fresh plants on the fruitful hills, she had left behind the Circaean fields, {so} called after her own name.

"'Hidden by the shrubs, soon as she beheld the youth, she was astounded; the plants which she had gathered fell from her bosom, and a flame seemed to pervade her entire marrow. As soon as she regained her presence of mind from {so} powerful a shock, she was about to confess what she desired; the speed of his horse, and the surrounding guards, caused that she could not approach. 'And yet thou shalt not escape me,' she said, 'even shouldst thou be borne on the winds, if I only know myself, if all potency in herbs has not vanished, and if my charms do not deceive me.' {Thus} she said; and she formed the phantom of a fictitious wild boar, with no substance, and commanded it to run past the eyes of the king, and to seem to go into a forest, thick set with trees, where the wood is most dense, and where the spot is inaccessible to a horse. There is no delay; Picus, forthwith, unconsciously follows the phantom of the prey; hastily too, he leaves the reeking back of his steed, and, in pursuit of a vain hope, wanders on foot in the lofty forest. She repeats prayers to herself, and utters magical incantations, and adores strange Gods in strange verses, with which she is wont both to darken the disk of the snow-white moon, and to draw the clouds that suck up the moisture, over the head of her father. Then does the sky become lowering at the repeating of the incantation, and the ground exhales its vapours; and his companions wander along the darkened paths, and his guards are separated from the king.

"'She, having now gained a {favourable} place and opportunity, says, 'O, most beauteous {youth}! by thy eyes, which have captivated mine, and by this graceful person, which makes me, though a Goddess, to be thy suppliant, favour my passion, and receive the Sun, that beholds all things, as thy father-in-law, and do not in thy cruelty despise Circe, the daughter of Titan.' {Thus} she says. He roughly repels her and her entreaties: and he says, 'Whoever thou art, I am not for thee; another female holds me enthralled, and for a long space of time, I pray, may she so hold me. I will not pollute the conjugal ties with the love of a stranger, while the Fates shall preserve for me Canens, the daughter of Janus.' The daughter of Titan, having often repeated her entreaties in vain, says, 'Thou shalt not depart with impunity, nor shalt thou return to Canens; and by experience shalt thou learn what one slighted, what one in love, what a woman, can do; but that one in love, and slighted, and a woman, is Circe.'

"'Then twice did she turn herself to the West, and twice to the East; thrice did she touch the youth with her wand; three charms did she repeat. He fled; wondering that he sped more swiftly than usual, he beheld wings on his body; and indignant that he was added suddenly as a strange bird to the Latian woods, he struck the wild oaks with his hard beak, and, in his anger, inflicted wounds[35] on the long branches. His wings took the purple colour of his robe. The piece of gold that had formed a buckle, and had fastened his garment, became feathers, and his neck was encompassed with {the colour of} yellow gold; and nothing {now} remained to Picus of his former {self}, beyond the name.

"'In the meantime his attendants, having, often in vain, called on Picus throughout the fields, and, having found him in no direction, meet with Circe, (for now she has cleared the air, and has allowed the clouds to be dispersed by the woods and the sun); and they charge her with just accusations, and demand back their king, and are using violence, and are preparing to attack her with ruthless weapons. She scatters noxious venom and poisonous extracts; and she summons together Night, and the Gods of Night, from Erebus and from Chaos, and she invokes Hecate in magic howlings. Wondrous to tell, the woods leap from their spot; the ground utters groans, the neighbouring trees become pallid, the grass becomes moist, besprinkled with drops of blood; the stones seem to send forth harsh lowings, the dogs {seem} to bark, and the ground to grow loathsome with black serpents, and unsubstantial ghosts of the departed {appear} to flit about. The multitude trembles, astonished at these prodigies; she touches their astonished faces, as they tremble, with her enchanted wand. From the touch of this, the monstrous forms of various wild beasts come upon the young men; his own form remains to no one of them.

"'The setting Sun has {now} borne down upon the Tartessian shores;[36] and in vain is her husband expected, both by the eyes and the longings of Canens. Her servants and the people run about through all the woods, and carry lights to meet him. Nor is it enough for the Nymph to weep, and to tear her hair, and to beat her breast; though all this she does, she rushes forth, and, in her distraction, she wanders through the Latian fields. Six nights, and as many returning lights of the Sun, beheld her, destitute of sleep and of food, going over hills and valleys, wherever chance led her. Tiber, last {of all}, beheld her, worn out with weeping and wandering, and reposing her body on his cold banks. There, with tears, she poured forth words attuned, lamenting, in a low voice, her very woes, as when the swan, now about to die, sings his own funereal dirge.

"'At last, melting with grief, {even} to her thin marrow, she pined away, and by degrees vanished into light air. Yet the Fame of it became attached to the spot, which the ancient Muses have properly called Canens, after the name of the Nymph.' During that long year, many such things as these were told me and were seen {by me}. Sluggish and inactive through idleness, we were ordered again to embark on the deep, again to set our sails. The daughter of Titan had said that dangerous paths, and a protracted voyage, and the perils of the raging sea were awaiting us. I was alarmed, I confess; and having reached these shores, {here} I remained."

[Footnote 28: Albula.—Ver. 328. The ancient name of the river Tiber was Albula. It was so called from the whiteness of its water.]

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse