OVID: METAMORPHOSES BOOK II

Introduction.

For an introduction to Ovid and the work as a whole, the reader is invited to look at the introduction to Sabidius' translation of "Metamorphoses" Book I, published on this blog on 1st February 2018. 


Book II, translated below, contains the following contents: i) Phaëton (continued); ii) Callisto; iii) the raven and the crow; iv) Coronis; v) Phoebus and Aesculapius; vi) Ocyroë; vii) Mercury and Battus; viii) the envy of Aglauros; and ix) Jupiter and Europa. This book concludes the first part of the "Metamorphoses", i.e. the section featuring "The Divine Comedy".


Ll. 1-30.  The Palace of the Sun.

The Palace of the Sun was (towering) high with lofty columns, (and was) bright with glittering gold and with bronze (gleaming) like fire; shining ivory covered the tops of its gables, (and) the leaves of its double-doors shone with the brightness of silver. The (art) work surpassed the substance (of the doors): for on them Mulciber (i.e. Vulcan, the smith who 'softens' metal) had engraved the waters that encompass the earth's centre, the globe of the earth, and the sky which overhangs the world. The sea contains the dark-blue gods, the tuneful Triton (i.e. a sea and river god, the son of Neptune and Amphitrite, usually depicted as half-man and half-fish), the mutable Proteus (i.e. a sea-god who could constantly change his form), and Aegaeon (i.e. another name for the hundred-armed Briareus), crushing the huge backs of whales with his arms, and Doris (i.e. the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, and the wife of Nereus, the old man of the sea) and her daughters (i.e. the fifty Nereids or sea-nymphs), some of whom are seen swimming, some drying their (sea-)green hair (while) sitting on a rock, (and) others riding on (the backs of) fish: (they do) not all (have) the same appearance, yet they are not (entirely) different, just as it is right for sisters to be. The land shows men and towns, woods and wild animals, rivers and nymphs and the other rural deities. Above them is depicted an image of the glowing sky, and six signs (of the zodiac) on the right(-hand) door and the same number on the left(-hand one).

As soon as Clymene's son had gone up the steep path, and entered the palace of the father (of whom he was) uncertain; at once, he made his way into his father's presence, but stopped some distance away: for he could not bear his light (coming) too close. Dressed in a purple robe, Phoebus was sitting on a throne shining with bright emeralds. To his right and to his left stood the Day, the Month and the Year, the Century and the Hours, situated in equal spaces, and the young Spring stood (there), wreathed in a crown of flowers, and naked Summer wore a garland of wheat-ears, and Autumn stood (there), stained by trampled grapes, and icy Winter, with her white hair bristling.

Ll. 31-48.   Phaëthon and his father.

Then, the Sun, seated in their midst, with eyes with which he catches sight of everything, saw the young man, who was fearful of the strangeness of the arrangements, and he says, "What (is) the reason for your journey? What are you looking for in this stronghold, Phaëthon, a son not to be denied by any father?"

He (i.e. Phaëthon) replies: "O universal light of the vast world, (O) father Phoebus, if you allow me the use of that name, and (if) Clymene is not hiding some fault beneath a false pretence, give (me) proof, father, through which I shall be believed (to be) your true offspring, and take away this uncertainty from my mind."

He finished speaking: and his father removed the sparkling rays (which were) surrounding the whole of his head, and told (him) to come nearer; and, after giving (him) an embrace, he says: "You are worthy to be mine, it is not to be denied, and Clymene has spoken the truth about your birth. So that you may be in less doubt, ask (me) for some favour, so that, after I have bestowed (it), you can exhibit it. May that lake by which the gods are required to swear (i.e. the Styx), although (it is) unknown to my eyes, be present (as) a witness to my promises."

He had scarcely come to a proper end (of his speech), (when) that (boy) asks for his father's chariot, and the right to control his wing-footed horses for a day.

Ll. 49-62.  The Sun's admonitions.

His father regretted that he had sworn that oath. Shaking his distinguished head three times, and (then) a fourth time, he said, "Your words have made mine rash. If only I could not grant my promises! I confess, my son, I would refuse you just this one (thing). Phaëthon, you are asking for (too) great a favour, and (one) which is suited neither to your strength nor to your (O) so boyish years. Your lot is (that of) a mortal, (but) what you ask is not (right for) a mortal. Unknowingly, you aspire to even more than (something) which can happen to the gods. Each (god) may (do whatever) is pleasing to him, but no one has the power to set his foot in the chariot of fire except myself. Even the ruler of great Olympus, who hurls wild thunderbolts from his terrible right(-hand), cannot drive this team of horses: and do we have anyone greater than Jupiter?

Ll. 63-89.  The Sun's further warnings.

"The beginning of the path is steep, and my horses, (although they are) fresh in the morning, can scarcely climb it: it is highest in the middle of the sky, from where to look down on the sea and the earth often causes fear even to me, and my heart is agitated by a trembling dread. The last (part of) the journey is downward, and needs sure management: then even Tethys (i.e. the sister and wife of Oceanus) herself, who receives me in her submissive waves, is accustomed to fear that I may be swept away headlong. Besides, the sky is seized by constant turning, and drags along the remote stars, and whirls them around in coils (i.e. orbits). I push in the opposite (direction), and its momentum does not overcome me, (as it does) everything else, and I ride in a (direction) contrary to its swift orbit. Suppose that the chariot has been given (to you): what will you do? Will you be able to counter the turning poles, so that the swift chariot does not run away with you? Perhaps you conceive in your mind that there are groves there, and cities of the gods, and temples rich in gifts? The journey runs through ambushes and the shapes of wild beasts. And though you should keep to your course and you are carried along without any mistake, you will still have to make your way past the horns of the hostile bull (i.e. the constellation Taurus), and the Haemonian (i.e. Thessalian) bow (i.e. the constellation Sagittarius), and the jaws of the raging lion (i.e. the constellation Leo), and the cruel arms of the scorpion bent through a vast circle (i.e. the constellation Scorpio), and the arms of the crab bent in a different way (i.e. the constellation Cancer). Nor will it be easy for you to control those proud horses with that fire which they have in their chests, (and) which they breathe out through their mouths and their nostrils. They scarcely allow me (to control them), when their eager spirits are hot, and their necks resist the reins. And you, my son, beware, lest I am the source of a gift (which is) fatal to you, and, while time permits, put right your request.

Ll. 90-110.  Phaëthon insists on riding the chariot.

"You seek a sure sign (don't you,) no doubt so that you may believe that you (were) born of my blood? I give that sure sign by my fearing (for you), and I am proved to be a father by my fatherly anxiety. Behold, look at my face! If only you could implant your eyes in my heart and detect a father's concern from within! Finally, look around (you) at whatever riches the world contains, and ask for anything from all those many good (things) in the sky, on the earth, and in the sea: you will suffer no refusal. I deprecate this one (thing), which, under its true name, is a punishment, not an honour. Phaëthon, you are asking for a punishment instead of a gift. Why do you take hold of my neck with those coaxing arms (of yours), you witless (boy)? Have no doubt, you will be granted whatever you ask for; but do choose more wisely!"

The warning had ended: but he (i.e. Phaëthon) resists these words, and presses his plan, and is on fire with his desire (to drive) the chariot. So, as he has the right, his father reluctantly leads the youth to the tall chariot, the work of Vulcan. It had a golden axle, a golden pole, golden rims on the top of its wheels, (and) a circle of silver spokes; along the yoke, topazes and gemstones set in order, reflecting Phoebus, returned the bright light.

Ll. 111-149.  The Sun's instructions.

Then, while the great-hearted Phaëthon gazes in wonder at the workmanship, behold, Aurora (i.e. the Dawn), awake in the glowing East, opens wide her radiant doors and her courtyards full of roses. The stars, at the rear of whose ranks comes Lucifer (i.e. the Morning Star), disappear, and he, last (of all), leaves his station in the sky. When he saw him (i.e. Lucifer) setting, (and) the earth and the universe reddening, just as the horns of the waning moon were fading, Titan (i.e. the Sun) orders the swift Hours to yoke his horses. The goddesses speedily enact his commands, and lead his (team of) horses, spewing forth fire, (and) sated with ambrosial juice, from their tall stables, and attach a ringing bridle (to them). Then, the father rubbed his son's face with a sacred ointment, and made (it) able to bear consuming flames, and placed his rays in his hair, and, presaging grief in the repeated sighs (which came) from his troubled breast, he said:

"If you can at least obey these admonitions of your father, spare the whip, my boy, and employ the reins quite vigorously: they run fast of their own accord; it is a hard task to check their eagerness. Do not decide (to take) a path straight through the five zones of heaven: the track has been laid obliquely in a wide curve, and (has been) stretched along the edge of three zones and avoids the South Pole and the Great Bear, which is harnessed to the North Winds. This is the road: you will clearly see the marks of my wheels. And, so that both heaven and earth receive equal warmth, do not sink the chariot down (too low), nor heave (it) through the upper air. If you proceed too high, you will scorch the roof of heaven, too low, (you will scorch) the earth: (if) you go through the middle, (you will be) safest. Nor should you swerve too far to the right towards the snake (i.e. the constellation Serpens), nor take your wheels too far to the left towards the altar (i.e. the constellation Ara): hold your way between the two of them. I entrust the rest to Fortuna (i.e. the Goddess of Chance), who, I pray, helps (you) and takes better care of you than you (do yourself). While I have been speaking, dewy night has reached her turning-point, (which is) placed on the Hesperian (i.e. Western) shore. Delay is not permitted to us: we are in demand! When the darkness has vanished, the dawn shines out. Take up the reins in your hand, or, if your mind is open to change, make use of my counsel, not my horses, while you can, and you are still standing on solid ground, and, while you are not yet driving the chariot, (which you,) inexperienced (as you are), (have so) unhappily chosen. So that you can watch it in safety, let me give light to the world!"

Ll. 150-177.  The Horses run wild.

He (i.e. Phaëthon) has (now) taken possession of the nimble chariot with his youthful body, and stands (in it) proudly, and takes in his hands the reins (which have been) given (to him), and he rejoices and gives thanks to his unwilling father. Meanwhile, the Sun's swift horses, Pyroïs, and Eoüs, and Aethon, and the fourth (one), Phlegon, fill the air with their fiery whinnying, and kick the bars with their hooves. When Tethys, unaware of her grandson's fate, has pushed back these (barriers), and access to the vast sky is made available (to them), they seize hold of the way, and, moving through the air with their feet, they tear through the clouds, and lifted up by their wings, they overtake the East Winds (which have) risen from the same regions.

But the weight was light, and (this was something) which the Sun's horses could not understand, and their yoke lacked its usual heaviness; and, just as curved-sided boats rock around without their proper weight, and are said (to be) unstable at sea with too much lightness, so the chariot, free of its usual load, gives jumps in the air, and is tossed on high, as though it were empty. As soon as they feel this, the team of four run (wild) and leave the beaten track, and do not run in accordance with any previous arrangement. He, himself, was terrified, nor does he know how to handle the reins (which have been) entrusted (to him), nor where the track was, nor, (even) if he did know, (how) to control those (horses). Then, for the first time, the dull Ploughing Oxen (i.e. the constellation of the Wain) grew warm in the rays (of the sun), and tried in vain to douse themselves in forbidden waters, and the serpent (i.e. properly the constellation Draco), which is situated nearest to the freezing (North) Pole, and previously sluggish with the cold, and not, in any (way) to be feared, (now) glowed with heat and assumed a new rage. They say that you, too, Bootes (i.e. the constellation Herdsman), fled in confusion, although you were (too) slow, and that hay-waggon (i.e. the constellation Ursa Major, or Great Bear) of yours hampered you.

Ll. 178-200.  Phaëthon lets go of the reins.

Now, when the unlucky Phaëthon looked down from the sky at the earth lying far, far beneath, he grew pale and his knees quaked with a sudden fear, and darkness came over his eyes through an excess of light. And now he wishes he had never touched his father's horses, now he regrets that he had discovered his (true) descent, and that he has been able (to do so) by asking (about it), now, wishing (only) to be called the (son) of Merops, he is carried along in the same way as a ship, driven headlong by a northern gale, whose conquered helm her master has let go of, (and) which he has abandoned to the gods and prayer. What can he do? Much of the sky (is) left behind his back, (but) more is before his eyes! He measures both in his mind, and sometimes he takes a look at the West, which he is not fated to reach, (and) sometimes he looks back at the East: and, unaware of what he should do, he is stupefied, and he neither loosens the reins, nor has he the power to hold on to (them), and he does not know the horses' names.

In his alarm, he also sees the marvellous images of vast creatures scattered everywhere amidst the mottled sky. There is a place where Scorpio bends his arms (i.e. his pincers) into twin arcs, and, with his tail and his arms curving on both sides, spreads out his limbs into the space of two (star) signs. When the boy saw this (monster), oozing with the slime of black venom, threatening (to) wound (him) with its arched sting, deprived of his mind by chilling terror, he dropped the reins.

Ll. 201-226.  The mountains burn.

When the horses felt them (i.e. the reins) lying on the top of their backs, they veer off course, and go, without any check, through the air of unexplored regions, and, wherever their momentum takes (them), there they run lawlessly, and collide with the stars (which are) fixed high in the sky, and hurry the chariot along out-of-the-way tracks. Now, they make for the heights, now they rush down precipitous paths on a course (which is) nearer to the earth. The Moon is amazed that her brother's horses are running lower than her own, and the boiling clouds smoke; when all the highest (regions) burst into flames, the earth develops fissures and cracks, and, deprived of moisture, it dries up. The crops are blighted, the trees with their leaves are burned, and the parched corn-fields provide fuel for their own destruction. I am complaining about small (things): great cities perish, together with their walls, and the flames turn whole nations and (all) their peoples to ashes. The forests burn, together with the mountains, (Mount) Athos (i.e. a mountain in Macedonia on a peninsula in the northern Aegean) is aflame, and (so are) the Cilician Taurus, and Tmolus (i.e. a mountain in Lydia) and Oeta (i.e. a mountain range between Thessaly and Aetolia), and Ida (i.e. either the mountain in Crete, which was the birthplace of Jupiter, or the one in Phrygia, near Troy), now dry (but) formerly covered with fountains, and maidenly Helicon (i.e. the mountain in Boeotia, which was the home of the Muses) and Haemus (i.e. a mountain in Thrace), not yet linked to Oeagrus (i.e. a legendary king of Thrace and father of Orpheus); (Mount) Etna (i.e. a volcanic mountain in eastern Sicily) burns over a vast (area) with redoubled flames, as (do) the twin-peaked Parnassus (i.e. a mountain in Phocis, sacred to Apollo and the Muses, at the foot of which is Delphi) and Eryx (i.e. a mountain, sacred to Venus, on the north-west tip of Sicily), and Cynthus (i.e. a mountain on the island of Delos sacred to Apollo and Diana) and Othrys (i.e. a mountain in Thessaly), and Rhodope (i.e. a mountain in Thrace), destined, at last, to lose its snow, and Mimas (i.e. a mountain range in Ionia), and Dindyma (i.e. a mountain in Mysia, sacred to Ceres), and Mycale (i.e. a city and promontory in Ionia, opposite the island of Samos), and Cithaeron, intended for sacred (rites) (i.e. a mountain in Boeotia, and a centre of Bacchic worship). Its cold (climate) does not save Scythia (i.e. the plains to the north-east of the Black Sea): the Caucasus burns, as (do) Ossa, along with Pindus (i.e. both mountains in Thessaly), and Olympus, greater than both (of these), and the lofty Alps and the cloud-capped Appennines.

Ll. 227-271.  The rivers are dried up.

Then, indeed, Phaëthon sees the world on fire from all directions, nor can he bear the violent heat, and he draws the hot breath from his mouth, as if from a deep furnace, and feels his chariot growing white (hot); now he can no longer endure the ash and the sparks (that are) flung out, and he is enveloped on all sides by hot smoke, and, covered, (as he is,) by a pitch-black vapour, he does not know where he is going to, or where he is, and he is swept along by the will of the winged horses. (It was) then they believe that the peoples of Ethiopia acquired their dark hue. Then Libya became dry, her moisture being removed by the heat, then the nymphs, with their hair dishevelled, wept bitterly for their fountains and lakes: Boeotia searches for (the fountains of) Dirce, Argos for (those of) Amymone, (and) Ephyre (i.e. Corinth) for the Pirenian spring (i.e. the spring sacred to the Muses). Nor, assigned to a (particular) spot, did the rivers keep their wide banks safe: the Tanaïs (i.e. the River Don) boiled in the midst of its waters, as (did) old Peneus (i.e. a river in Thessaly that flows from Mount Pindus through the Vale of Tempe), and the Caïcus of Teuthras (i.e. Mysian), and swift-flowing Ismenus (i.e. a river near Thebes in Boeotia), together with the Erymanthus of Phegeus (i.e. Arcadian), and Xanthus (i.e. a river of Phrygia), destined to burn again (i.e. in the Trojan War), and the golden Lycormas (i.e. a river of Aetolia), and Maeander (i.e. a river in Lydia, famous for its wandering or 'meandering' course), who plays in its winding waters. Mygdonian (i.e. Thracian) Melas and Taenarian (i.e. Laconian) Eurotas (as well). The Babylonian Euphrates burned too, the Orontes (i.e. the principal river of Syria) burned, and the swift-flowing Thermodon (i.e. a river of the Black Sea region where the Amazons lived), and the Ganges, and the Phasis (i.e. a river in Colchis, east of the Black Sea) and the Hister (i.e. the Danube). Alpheus (i.e. a river in the west of the Peloponnese, near Olympia) boils, Spercheus' banks (i.e. those of a river in Thessaly) are on fire, and the gold, which Tagus (i.e. a river in Portugal) carries on his stream, melts, and the river-birds (i.e. swans) which honoured the Maeonian (i.e. Lydian) river-banks with their singing, have been scalded in the midst of the Caÿster (i.e. a river in Lydia, near the mouth of which is Ephesus). The Nile fled in terror to the very edge of the world, and covered its head, which still lies hidden (i.e. its source remains unknown): its seven dust-filled mouths are empty, seven channels without a stream. The same fate dries up the Ismarian (i.e. Thracian) rivers, Hebron and Strymon, and the Hesperian (i.e. western) (ones), the Rhine, the Rhone and the Po, and the Tiber, to whom universal power had been promised.

Everywhere the ground breaks up, and the light penetrates the cracks (down) into Tartarus, and terrifies the king of the Underworld (i.e. Pluto) and his wife (i.e. Persephone). Then, the sea contracts, and what was, a moment ago, open sea is an expanse of dry sand: mountains, which the deep sea had covered, (now) emerge, and add to the scattered Cyclades. The fish seek the depths (of the sea), and the crooked dolphins do not dare to rise into the air above the sea, (as they have been) accustomed (to do); the lifeless bodies of seals float face upwards on the surface of the deep. They even say that Nereus, himself, and Doris and their daughters (i.e. the Nereids), skulked below in warm caverns. Three times Neptune ventured to lift his arms, together with his grim face, out of the waters, (but) three times he could not endure the burning air.

Ll. 272-300.  Earth complains.

But kindly Earth, surrounded as she was by the sea, between the waters of the open sea and the springs, which, having shrunk everywhere, had hidden themselves in their dark mother's womb, raised her smothered face, and (being) dry as far as her neck, she put her hand to her forehead, and, shaking everything with her mighty tremors, she sank back a little and was lower than she used to be, and she spoke thus in a hoarse voice: "If this is pleasing (to you), and I have deserved (it), why, O highest of the gods, are your lightning-bolts loitering? If I am destined to die by the power of fire, let (me) perish by your fire, and may the instigator alleviate the agony! Indeed, I can hardly loosen my jaws (enough to put) these very (things) into words" - (for) the heat had overcome her mouth - : "Behold, look at my scorched hair, and the huge amount of ashes (which are) in my eyes, (and) the huge amount (of ashes which are) all over my face. (Are) these the rewards, (is) this the honour (that) you give back to me for my productivity and service, in that I endure the wounds of the curved plough and the mattocks, and I am made to work all year, (and) because I supply leaves and tender nourishment for the flocks, produce for the human race, (and) also incense for you? But yet, suppose that I have deserved this destruction: how (have) the waves, how has your brother (i.e. Neptune) deserved (this)? Why are the waters, which were given to you by lot, shrinking, and receding further from the sky? But if regard, neither for your brother, nor for me, moves you, at least take pity on your own heavens! Look around (you) on both sides: both of the poles are steaming. If the fire should melt them, your own halls will fall. Look, Atlas, himself, is struggling, and can barely sustain the white-hot sky on his shoulders. If the sea, if the land, if the kingdom of heaven (all) perish, we are cast back into ancient chaos. Save whatever still survives from the flames, and have regard for the most important matters.

Ll. 301-328.  Jupiter intervenes and Phaëthon dies.

Earth finished speaking these (words): for she could neither endure the heat, nor say any more. And she withdrew her face into herself and closer into the caverns of the spirits of the dead.

But the almighty father (i.e. Jupiter), calling the gods, and (in particular) the very one who had handed over the chariot (i.e. Phoebus), to witness that, unless he, himself, were to provide help, the whole (world) would suffer a grave fate, climbs high to the loftiest height (in the sky), from where he is accustomed to spread clouds over the wide earth, (and) from where he moves the thunder and hurls his quivering lightning-bolts. But now he had no clouds which he could spread over the earth, nor any rain-showers which he could send down from the sky. He thunders, and dispatched a lightning-bolt, (which he had) balanced in his right(-hand) from (the level of) his ear at the charioteer, and removed (him) from life and from his chariot at the same time, and (so) he suppressed fire with fiercer fires. The horses are thrown into confusion, and making jumps in a different (direction), they tear their necks away from the yoke and abandon their harness. Here lie the reins, there the axle torn from the pole, over there the spokes of the shattered wheels, and the fragments of the wrecked chariot are scattered far and wide.

Then, Phaëthon, with flames ravaging his glowing-red hair, is hurled headlong, and flies through the air in a long trail, as sometimes a star can appear to have fallen from the clear sky, although it has not (in fact) fallen. Far from his own (country and) in a strange (part of) the world, the mighty Eridanus (i.e. the god of the River Po) takes him up and bathes his smoke-blackened face. There the Hesperian (i.e. Italian) water-nymphs consign his body, (still) smoking from that triple-forked flame, to its burial mound, (and) they also mark the rock with this verse: HERE LIES PHAËTHON, THE DRIVER OF HIS FATHER'S CHARIOT: (EVEN) IF HE COULD NOT KEEP HOLD OF IT, YET HE FELL (ONLY) AFTER DARING GREAT (THINGS).

Ll. 329-343.  Phaëthon's mother and sisters grieve for him.

For his pitiable father had hidden his countenance, overcast with sorrowful mourning; and, if only we can believe (it), they say that one day passed without the sun: (but) the fires provided light, and there was (thus) some benefit amid (all) that evil.

But Clymene, after she had said whatever (words) could have been said amid such terrible misfortunes, grief-stricken, and frantic, and tearing her breasts, travelled across the whole world, and, looking at first for his lifeless limbs, she then found his bones - yet his bones (were) buried in the river-bank of a foreign country! - and she fell to the ground and drenched with tears the name which she read on the block of marble and warmed (it) with her bare bosom.

No less do the Heliads (i.e. the seven daughters of the Sun God Phoebus and Clymene, and therefore the sisters of Phaëthon) lament, and offer their tears, a useless tribute to the dead, and they beat their breasts with their hands, (and) call upon Phaëthon night and day, although he will not be able to hear their pitiful sighs, and they prostrate themselves on his tomb.

Ll. 344-366.  The sisters are turned into poplar-trees.

Four times the Moon had made her circle full by joining her (crescent) horns: by their habit - for use had created habit - they (i.e. the Heliads) had devoted (themselves) to mourning. Of these, Phaëthusa (i.e. the Shining One), the oldest of the sisters, when she wished to throw herself to the ground, complained that her feet had stiffened up. When the radiant Lampetia tried to come to her (help), she was held back by an unexpected root. When a third (sister) set about tearing her hair with her hands, she pulled out leaves; one laments that her legs are bound by wood, another that her arms have become long branches. And while they wonder at these (things), bark encompasses their thighs, and gradually goes around their groins and their breasts, their shoulders and hands, and only their mouths, calling for their mother, remain visible. What can their mother do, but go here and there, as the impulse takes her, and join their lips together (i.e. kiss them), while she (still) can? It's not enough! She tries to pull their bodies away from the tree-trunks, and breaks off the delicate branches with her hands; but drops of blood trickle from them as though from a wound. "Stop, mother, I beg (you)!" cries out whichever (one) is wounded, "Stop, I beg (you)! (It is) my body in the tree (that) is being wounded. And now farewell!" - the bark enveloped her last words. From them tears (still) flow, and from their fresh branches amber is distilled and is hardened by the sun, and the bright stream takes it up and sends (it) to be worn by Latin (i.e. Roman) brides.

Ll. 367-380.  Cycnus.

Cycnus, the son of Sthenelus was present at this marvel, (he) who, although joined to you (i.e. Phaëthon) by blood through his mother, was yet closer (to you) in his heart. (Now,) although he had ruled the people and the great cities of the Ligurians, he left his kingdom and filled the green banks of the stream of Eridanus (i.e. the Po), and the woods (which had been) expanded by his sisters (i.e. the Heliads), with plaintive (cries), when his voice is weakened in its virility, and white feathers hide his hair, his long neck stretches out from his chest, and a web unites his reddened fingers, wings cover his sides, (and) a blunt beak takes the place of his mouth. (So), Cycnus becomes a new (kind of) bird (i.e. a swan), but he does not entrust himself to the heavens and to Jupiter, as he remembers the fire unjustly sent by him: he makes for pools and open lakes and rivers, in which, hating fire, he chooses to live as an alternative to the flames.

Ll. 381-400.  The Sun returns to his task. 

Meanwhile, Phaethon's father, in squalid (garb) and destitute of his very brightness, as he is accustomed to be, when he abandons the earth (i.e. when there is an eclipse), hates the light and his very self and the day, and gives his mind over to grief; and he adds anger to his grief, and denies his service to the world. "My lot since the beginning of time," he says, "has been exhausting enough, and I am weary of work without end (and) labour without honour. Anyone you like may drive my light-bearing chariot! If there is no one (to do it), and all the gods acknowledge that they cannot (do so), let he himself (i.e. Jupiter) drive (it), so that, at least, while he tries (to take up) my reins, he must set aside for a time those thunderbolts (which are) destined to make fathers bereft. Then, when (he has) experienced the strength of those fiery-footed horses, he will know that (he) who did not manage them well did not deserve death."

All the gods stand around the Sun, as he says these (things), and they ask (him) in a begging voice not to be determined to envelop everything in darkness: Jupiter, too, seeks to excuse the fires (he has) hurled, and adds threats to his entreaties in a kingly manner. (Then,) Phoebus rounds up his horses (who are) frantic and still trembling with terror, and, in his pain, he lashes out with goad and whip: yes, he (really) lashes out (at them), and reproaches (them) and takes them to task for his son's (death).

Ll. 401-416.  Jupiter sees Callisto.

Now the almighty father goes around the huge walls of heaven, and examines (them), (fearing) that something, shaken by the violence of the fire, may have collapsed. When he sees that they are solid in their strength, he takes a look at the earth and the works of mankind. Yet his (land) of Arcadia is his greatest concern: he restores the fountains and the streams, (which are) not yet daring to flow, he gives grass to the earth (and) leaves to the trees, and bids the scorched forests grow green once more. Often, while he came and went, he would stop short at the sight of a maiden from Nonacris (i.e. a mountain in Arcadia and the home of the nymph Callisto), and the fires (of love) would inflame (him) right into (the very marrow of) his bones. She (i.e Callisto) was not one to make her work easier by spinning wool, nor to change the arrangement of her hair; when a brooch (fastened) her tunic, (and) a white ribbon held back the loose tresses of her hair, and she took up now a spear and then a bow in her smooth hand, she was a companion of Phoebe (i.e. Diana or the Moon): no one (who) roamed the Maenalus (i.e. a mountain range in Arcadia, which was the haunt of Diana and her virgin huntresses) (was) dearer to Trivia (i.e. the Triple-Goddess: Diana on the Earth, Luna in the sky and Hecate in Hades) than her. But no influence lasts for long.

Ll. 417-440.  Jupiter rapes Callisto.

High (in the sky), the sun was holding a position just beyond the middle (of the zenith), when she (i.e. Callisto) entered a grove which no age had touched. Here she took the quiver from her shoulder, and unstrung her pliant bow, and lay down on ground which grass had covered, and placed her relaxed neck on to her painted quiver. When Jupiter saw (her), weary and unprotected, he said, "Surely my wife will not know of this intrigue of mine, or, if she does find out (about it), it is, it is, oh so worthy of a quarrel (to me)!" At once, he assumes the countenance and the dress of Diana, and says: "O virgin, (you who are) one member of my (train of) companions, in which ridge of mountains have you been hunting?" The virgin rises from the turf and said, "Greetings, goddess (who is) greater than Jupiter, with me disclosing (it) even though Jupiter himself may hear." He does hear and laughs, and he rejoices that he is put before himself, and he gives (her) kisses, (which are) neither sufficiently restrained nor such as should be given by a virgin. When she started to tell in which forest she had been hunting, he prevents (her) by an embrace, nor does he proceed without a crime. In truth, she struggles against (him), just as far as any woman could - if only you had seen (her), Saturnia (i.e. Juno), you would have been kinder (to her) - (yes,) indeed, she fights (him): but (what) girl could overcome him, or (could) anyone (overcome) Jupiter? Victorious Jupiter makes for the higher (reaches of) the sky: to her the grove is to be hated and the forest is in the know. Retracing her footsteps from there, she almost forgot to pick up her quiver and its arrows, and the bow which she had hung up (there).

Ll.  441-465.  Diana discovers Callisto's shame.

Behold, Dictynna (i.e. Diana), accompanied by her band (of huntresses), advancing across the heights of Maenalus, and, magnificent in her slaughter of wild beasts, espies her, and, having seen (her), calls out to (her): having been hailed, she fled, and was afraid at first that Jupiter might be within her. But when she saw the (other) nymphs come forward together, she realised there was no trickery, and joined their number. Alas, how difficult it is not to show one's guilt in one's face! She can scarcely lift her eyes from the ground, neither as she used (to be) before, (is she) wedded to her goddess's side, nor is she the first in the whole company; but she is silent, and, by her blushes, shows signs of shame at her injury; and, even if she were not a virgin (herself), Diana could sense her guilt by a thousand indications; (and) they say that (all) the nymphs could feel (it). The moon's (crescent) horns were rising again from their ninth orbit, when the goddess, faint from hunting in her brother's hot sunlight, found a cool grove, from which a stream ran, flowing with a murmur, and wound over fine sand. When she approved the spot, she dipped her foot into the surface of the current: and, praising it also, she says, "Every witness is far away; let us bathe our bodies naked in the flowing waters." The Parrhasian (i.e. Arcadian) (girl) (i.e. Callisto) blushed. They all take their clothes off: one (of them) seeks a delay. After some hesitation, her tunic is removed; when it had been removed, her guilt is revealed by her naked body. (To her), terrified and trying to conceal her (swollen) belly with her hands, Cynthia (i.e. Diana) said, "Go far away from here, and do not pollute our sacred fountains!" and she commanded (her) to withdraw from her band (of followers).

 Ll. 466-495.  Callisto is turned into a bear.


The great Thunderer's wife (i.e. Juno) had known (all) about this for some time, and had differed her severe punishment until a suitable moment (arrived). There is (now) no reason for delay, and now a boy, Arcas, had been born of the concubine - Juno grieved at this very (thing).  As soon as she turned her angry mind and eyes on to him, she cried out, "To be sure, only this was left, (you) adulteress, that you should be fertile, and that the injury (done to me) by this birth should become known, and the crime of my Jupiter should become evident. (But) you will not carry (this) off unpunished: (now you) insolent (girl), I shall take away that figure (of yours), which so pleases you and my husband.

(So) she spoke, and seizing (her) by the hair from the front of her forehead, she pulled (her) down on to the ground. She (i.e. Callisto) stretched out her arms in supplication; (but) those arms began to bristle with black hairs, and her hands (began) to be bent and to turn into curved claws, and to perform the function of feet, and her face, once praised by Jupiter, (began) to become disfigured by wide gaping jaws. And, so that her prayers and words of entreaty may not gain his attention, her power of speech is taken (from her); a growl, angry and menacing, and packed with terror, comes from her hoarse throat. Yet, her former thoughts remained (intact), although she has been turned into a bear, and she showed her sadness by constant groaning, and she raises whatever hands she has left to the sky and the stars, and she feels, although she cannot speak (of it), the thanklessness of Jupiter. Ah, how often, not daring to sleep in the lonely woods, did she wander in front of the house and in the fields (that had) once (been) hers! Ah, how often was she driven all over the rocks by the barking of hounds, (and) did the terrified huntress flee in fear of the hunters! Often she hid at the sight of wild beasts, forgetting what she was, and, (although) a bear (herself), she shuddered at the bears, which she caught sight of on the mountains, and she feared the wolves, even though her father (i.e. Lycaon, whom Jupiter had turned into a wolf) was amongst them.

Ll. 496-507.  Arcas and Callisto become constellations. 

Behold, Arcas, the offspring of Lycaon's daughter, is there, quite unaware of his parent, almost thrice five birthdays having passed (i.e. he was in his fifteenth year): and, while he is pursuing wild animals, (and), while he is choosing suitable glades, and is enveloping the Erymanthian forest (i.e. Erymanthus is a mountain range in Arcadia) with woven nets, he comes upon his mother; seeing Arcas, she stood still, and was like (someone who) knew (him). He shrank back from (her) as she kept her unmoving eyes fixedly on him, not knowing (why) he was (so) afraid, and, while she was longing to come nearer (to him), he was on the verge of piercing her chest with his lethal weapon. The all-powerful (one) (i.e. Jupiter) restrained (him), and, at the same time, removed both them and (the possibility of) such a wrong, and, hurrying (them) through the void on a swift wind he set (them) in the heavens, and made (them) neighbouring constellations (i.e. Callisto becomes Ursa Major or Great Bear, and Arcas Ursa Minor or Little Bear).

Ll. 508-530.  Juno complains to Oceanus and Tethys.

Juno rose up (in anger), when the concubine shone among the stars, and she goes down to the sea (to see) white-haired Tethys and old Oceanus, towards whom reverence often affected the gods, and, when they asked about the reason for her journey, she begins (to speak as follows):

"Do you ask why I, the queen of the gods, am present here, (having left) my home in the heavens? Another occupies the sky in my place. I should be lying, if, when the night has made the world dark, you do not see, (as) my wounds, those newly adorned stars there in the height of heaven, where the remotest and, in space, the shortest orbit circles the uttermost pole. And, in truth, why should anyone wish to avoid hurting Juno and dread (her) becoming angry, (if,) by harming (them), I only benefit them? Oh, what a great (thing) I have done! What enormous power I have! I have stopped (her) being a human being: (now) she has become a goddess. I this way I inflict penalties on the guilty, such is my great power. Let him restore her former beauty, and let him take away her animal appearance, as he did in the case of that Argive (girl), Phoronis (i.e. Io). Why not divorce Juno and marry (her), and install (her) in my bed and take Lycaon (as) a father-in-law? But, if this slighting of your injured foster-child moves (you to pity), shut out the seven stars of the Wain (i.e. Ursa Major, viz.: Dubhe, Merak, Phecda, Megrez, Alioth, Mizar and Alkaid) from your dark-blue depths, and expel the stars, which have been set in the heavens, as the price of your lust, and do not let my rival be dipped in your pure water.

Ll. 531-565.
  The Raven and the Crow. 

The gods of the sea nodded in assent: (then) Saturnia (i.e. Juno) in her nimble chariot drives through the clear air, drawn by her multi-coloured peacocks; her peacocks became multi-coloured as recently as when Argus was killed (n.b. when Argus was killed, Juno set his hundred eyes in the peacock's tail), and at the same time as as your wings, (you) croaking raven, were suddenly turned into black (ones), although they had previously been white. For he was once a silvery-coloured bird with such snow-white wings that he was equal to all those spotless doves, nor was he inferior to the geese destined to save the Capitol with their watchful cries, not to the river-loving swan. His speech was a source of harm (to him); because of his ready speech, (he) whose colour was white is now the opposite to white.

There was none more beautiful in all of Haemonia (i.e. Thessaly) than Coronis of Larissa (i.e. a town in Thessaly): certainly, she pleased you, (O god) of Delphi (i.e. Phoebus), while she was faithful (to you) or not caught out. But that bird of Phoebus (i.e. the raven) discovered her adultery, and, merciless informer (that he was), made a journey to his master to expose her secret guilt. The garrulous crow follows him with his flapping wings in order to find out everything, and, when he heard the reason for the journey, he said: "You are not going on a worthwhile journey: do not scorn my prophetic tongue. See what I was and what I am, and consider (whether it is) just: you will find that good faith was my downfall. For, once upon a time, Pallas (i.e. Minerva) shut up Erichthonius, a child born without a mother, in a basket woven out of osiers from (Mount) Actaeon (i.e. the Athenian Acropolis) and gave (it) to the three virgin daughters of double-natured Cecrops (i.e. the mythical founder of Athens, who was part-man, part-serpent) with an instruction not to pry into its secret. I observed what they were doing from a dense elm-tree, (while) hidden in its light foliage. Two (of them), Pandrosus and Herse, observe this instruction without any deceit; (but) one (of them), Aglauros, calls her sisters cowardly and undoes the knots with her hands, and inside they behold a baby (boy) and a snake stretched out beside (him). I report this action to the goddess. I receive such a reward for this that I am told that Minerva's protection has been withdrawn (from me), and I am ranked below that bird of the night (i.e. the owl). My punishment should warn (all) birds not to take risks by speaking out.

Ll. 566-595.  The Crow's story.

But, thinks I, had she not sought me out of her own accord, although I was not asking for any (favour)? You may inquire about this from Pallas herself: although she is angry, she will not deny it, even in her anger. For the celebrated Coroneus beget me in the land of Phocis  - I am saying (something which is) well-known - and (as) I was a royal virgin, and wealthy, I was sought after by suitors - so do not despise me. (But) my beauty hurt me. For (once,) when I was walking along the shore, with slow steps, on the sand dunes, as I was used (to doing), the sea god (i.e. Neptune) saw (me) and grew hot; and, when he had spent his time vainly by entreating (me) with flattering words, he tries force and follows (me). I flee and leave the solid shore behind, and tire myself in vain in the soft sand. Then, I call upon gods and men; my voice does not reach any mortal: (but) the virgin (goddess) (i.e. Minerva) was moved (to pity) for a virgin, and brought help. I stretched out my arms to the sky: my arms began to darken with light feathers. I strove to throw back the cloak from my shoulders: but it had become feathers and had driven their roots deep into my skin. I tried to beat my naked breasts with my hands, but I now had neither hands nor naked breast. I ran: and (now) the sand was no (longer) clogging my feet, but I was lifted up off the ground. Soon I was carried high through the air, and chosen as an innocent companion of Minerva. Yet, how does it benefit (me), if Nyctimene, who has become a bird (i.e. an owl) through her dreadful crime, has taken my place of honour? Or have you not heard the story which is very well-known throughout all Lesbos, (that is) how Nyctimene desecrated her father's bed? Yes, she is a bird, but, aware of her guilt, she shuns the sight (of men) and the light (of day), and hides her shame in darkness and is driven from the whole sky by all (the other birds). 

Ll. 596-611.  Coronis is betrayed and Phoebus kills her.

The raven replies (to her) as she was saying these (things), "I pray that such memories may be bad (ones) in your case: I spurn empty prophecies." He does not abandon the journey (he had) begun, and he tells his master (i.e. Phoebus) that he has seen Coronis lying with a Haemonian (i.e. Thessalian) youth. When he hears this accusation of (her) making love, the god's expression, (the tone of) his lyre, and his colour (all) change at the same time. And, as his mind boiled with increasing fury, he seizes his usual weapons, and strings his bow, which he bends with his arms, and, with his unerring arrow, pierced that breast which had so often been joined with his own breast. On being struck, she gave a groan, and, when the arrow was drawn out of her body, it drenched her white limbs with purple blood, and she cried out: "I could have paid your penalty, Phoebus, but I could have given birth first: now two of us will die in one (person)." So far (she spoke), and (then) she poured out her life together with her blood. A deathly coldness came over her lifeless body.

Ll. 612-632.  Phoebus repents and saves Aesculapius. 

Alas, too late the lover repents of his cruel punishment, and he hates himself because he listened (to the tale) which had so angered (him); he hates the bird, through whom he had been compelled to know of the fault and the cause of his grief, and he also hates the bow and the hand (that pulled it), and, together with that hand, those hastily-fired weapons, the arrows, and he cradles the fallen (girl in his arms), and strives to overcome fate with his belated (healing) powers, but he employs his medical skills in vain. When (all) these (efforts had been) attempted in vain, and he saw her funeral pyre being prepared and her body about to be consumed by those final fires, then indeed he (i.e. Phoebus) gave forth groans, fetched from the bottom of his heart - for the faces of the heavenly gods cannot be touched by tears - , (groans which are) no different from when, with a bullock watching, the hammer, (which is) poised at the right ear (of the slaughterer), comes crashing down with a loud blow, on the forehead of a suckling calf.

Yet, as he poured the fragrant, (but) thankless, incense on her breast, and gave (her body) embraces, and completed her unjust obsequies, Phoebus could not allow his seed to fall into the same ashes, and he tore his son from the flames and from his mother's womb, and bore (him) to the cave of the double-natured Chiron (i.e. he was a Centaur, half-man, half-horse); but he forbade the raven, (who was) hoping for a reward for his truthful tongue, to live amongst the white birds.

Ll. 633-675.  Chiron and Ocyrhoë's prophecies. 

Meanwhile, that half-beast was delighted with this foster-child of divine stock, and rejoiced at the honour of mingling with his charge. Behold, the Centaur's daughter is come, with her shoulders covered by her red hair, whom the nymph Chariclo had once called Ocyrhoë, having given birth (to her) on the banks of that swift-flowing stream (i.e. the Ocyrhoë). She was not content to have learned her father's arts: she (also) chanted the secrets of the Fates (i.e. the Parcae: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos).

So, when she felt the prophetic frenzy in her heart, and was on fire with the god whom she had enclosed in her breast, she looked at the baby (boy) and cried out: "Grow in strength, (O you) boy (who will) bring health to all the world: mortals will often owe their lives to you; you will have the right to restore lives (which have been) lost; but, if ever you venture (to do) this against the wishes of the gods, you will be prevented by the flame of your grandfather's (lightning bolts) from being able to do it again, and from a god you will become a bloodless corpse, and (then) a god, who was recently a corpse, and (so) you will twice renew your destiny.

You also, dear father (i.e. Chiron), now immortal and caused by the law of your birth to live on through all the ages, will long to be able to die, from the time when you are tormented by the blood of the terrible serpent (i.e. the Lernaean Hydra) coursing through your wounded limbs; and, with you suffering forever, the gods will bring about your death, and the triple goddesses (i.e. the Fates) will untie your thread." Something remained to be told. She lets out sighs from the bottom of her heart, and tears welled up and trickled down her cheeks, and she cries out thus: "The Fates frustrate me, and I am forbidden to say more, and the use of my voice is precluded. These arts are not worth much, (if) they draw upon me the wrath of the gods; I prefer not to know the future. Now my human shape seems to be being taken away (from me), now grass is pleasing (to me) for food, and I have an impulse to run across the wide fields: I am changing into a mare and the form of my kindred. But why completely? Surely I have a father of two shapes. 

(Even) as she says these (things), the last part of her complaint could scarcely be understood, and her words were muddled. Soon it seemed they were words no longer, nor the sound of a mare, but of (someone) copying a mare, and, in a short time, she gave out neighing (noises) and her arms moved in the grass. Then, her fingers combine, and a thin hoof of continuous horn binds together her five fingernails, and the length of her face and neck increases, and the greatest part of her gown becomes a tail, and the loose hair lay across her neck as a mane hung down over her right (shoulder); and, at the same time as her voice and appearance were altered, these marvellous (happenings) also gave (her) a (new) name.

Ll. 676-707.  Mercury, Battus and the stolen cattle.

The demi-god, and the son of Philyra (i.e. Chiron) wept and asked for your help in vain. For you  (i.e. Phoebus) could not rescind mighty Jupiter's command, and, even if you could have rescinded (it), you were not there at the time: you were living in Elis and the lands of Messenia.

That was the time, during which a shepherd's skin covered you, and you had a wooden staff (as) a burden in your left (hand), (and,) in the other, a pipe with seven reeds of different lengths. While love was your concern, and while your pipe was delighting you, your unguarded cattle strayed, they say, into the fields of Pylos (i.e. a city in Elis in the far west of the Peloponnese). The son of Atlas' daughter Maia (i.e. the god Mercury) sees them, and, by his arts, drives (them) into the woods and hides (them there). Nobody saw this theft but an old man well-known in that (part of) the country; the whole neighbourhood called (him) Battus. (As) a guard, he watched the wooded glades, the grassy pastures, and the herds of pedigree cattle belonging to wealthy Neleus (i.e. the king of Pylos and father of Nestor). He distrusted (him), but led (him) away with a coaxing hand, and he says to him, "Whoever you are, my friend, if anyone happens to ask (you) about these herds, say that you have not seen (them); and, so that your favour does not go unrewarded by a deed, take this shining cow as your prize" - and he handed (it) over. Accepting (it), the fellow replied with these words: "You may go your way in safety; that stone over there would talk about your thefts sooner than (I would)," and he pointed to the stone. Jupiter's son pretends to go away, (but) soon returns, and, having changed his form together with his voice, he said, "Countryman, if you have seen any cattle going this way, give me your help, and give up your silence to disclose a theft: when (you do), this heifer, joined together with its bull, will be given (to you)." And, after the reward was doubled, the old man says, "They will be at the foot of those mountains," and at the foot of those mountains they were. The descendant of Atlas (i.e. Mercury) laughed and says, "Would you betray me to myself, (you) rascal? Would you (really) betray me to myself?" And he turns that deceitful body into a hard stone, which even now is called 'The Spy (of Pylos)', and to this stone the old disgrace clings, (though it is) in no way deserved.

Ll. 708-736.  Mercury sees Herse.

From there, the carrier of the caduceus (i.e. Mercury carrying his herald's staff) soared upwards on his pair of wings, and, as he flew, he looked down on the Munychian (i.e. Athenian, because Munychia was one of the ports of Athens) fields and the land beloved of Minerva, and the groves of the cultured Lyceum (i.e. a gymnasium in Athens frequented by philosophers). On that day it happened that, in accordance with custom, innocent girls were carrying unadorned sacred (offerings) in (flower-)wreathed baskets, placed on their heads, to the citadel of Pallas during a festival. Then, the winged god sees (them) returning, and he does not fly in a straight course, but circles around in the same orbit. Just as a very swift bird of prey, spying out the (sacrificial) entrails, while it is (still) fearful, and the priests are standing around the victim in a crowd, wheels in a circle, and does not venture to go further off, but flies eagerly around its hoped-for (prey) on tilted wings, so the agile Cyllenius (i.e. Mercury, who was born on the mountain of Cyllene in Arcadia) inclines his course over the Actaean (i.e. Athenian, because Actaea was a district of Attica) citadel and flies in circles through the same winds. As Lucifer (i.e. the Morning Star) shines more brightly than the other stars, and golden Phoebe (shines more brightly) than Lucifer, so Herse (i.e. one of the three daughters of Cecrops) was pre-eminent among all the virgins, and was the glory of the train of her companions. The son of Jupiter (i.e. Mercury) was stupefied at her beauty, and, although he hung in the air, he was, nevertheless inflamed, as when a Balearic sling flings a lead (shot): on it flies, and on its journey it becomes red hot and discovers fire in the clouds which it did not have (before). He changes course, and, leaving the sky, he makes for the earth, and he does not disguise himself: he had such faith in his appearance. Although it is so, nevertheless he gives it some attention, and he smooths his hair, and arranges his robe to hang neatly, so that all of its golden hem will show, and he has in his right (hand) his polished wand, by which he induces and wards off sleep, and his winged sandals gleam on his trim feet. The private part of the house had three bed-chambers, decorated with ivory and tortoise-shell: of these, Pandrosus possessed the right (hand one), Aglauros the left (hand one), and Herse (the middle (one). (She) who had the left (hand room) was the first to notice Mercury coming, and she ventured to ask the god's name and the reason for his arrival. The grandson of Atlas and Pleione replied to her thus: "I am (the one) who carries my father's words of instruction through the air: my father is Jupiter himself. Nor shall I fabricate the reason (I am here); only may you wish to be loyal to your sister and (consent) to be called my child's aunt. Herse is the reason for my journey. I beg you to help a lover."

Aglauros looks at him with the same eyes with which she had recently beheld the hidden secrets of golden(-haired) Minerva, and demands a considerable weight of gold for her services: meanwhile, she compels (him) to leave the house.

Ll. 752-786.  Minerva calls on Envy.

The warrior goddess turned the orbs of her piercing eyes towards her, and drew sighs from deep within (her) with such force that she shook her breast and the aegis, which was placed on her valiant breast, at the same time. It came to her mind that this (girl) had revealed her secrets with profane hands at the time when she had viewed, against the instructions she had been given, the child (i.e. Erichthonius) of the god who dwelt on Lemnos (i.e. Vulcan), (who had been) born without a mother, and, now, she would be dear to the god (i.e.  Mercury) and dear to her sister (i.e. Herse), and rich with the gold (which she had) acquired because, in her greed, she had demanded (it). Straightaway, she makes for the house of Envy, filthy with its dark decaying matter. Her home was concealed amid deep valleys, lacking sunlight, not accessible to any winds, a melancholy (spot) and (one) completely filled with a numbing coldness, and which is always without fire (and) always abounding in fog. When the feared goddess of war arrived there, she stood in front of the dwelling - for she does not have the right to enter the house - and strikes the door-posts with the butt of her spear. Having been struck, the doors flew open. Inside she sees Envy eating vipers' meat, (which was) the nourishment of her depravities, and she averted her eyes from the sight. But she (i.e. Envy) arises slowly from the ground and leaves the half-eaten body of the snake, and comes forward with a sluggish step; and, when she saw the goddess in her beauty and adorned in her armour, she groaned and distorted her face in a deep sigh. A pallor settles over her face, and (there is) a leanness over her whole body, her eye-sight is completely skewed, her teeth are black with rust, her breast is green with bile, (and) her tongue is suffused with venom. Laughter is absent (from her), unless grief is seen to move someone. She does not enjoy sleep, roused (as she is) by watchful cares, but she perceives men's successes (as) unwelcome, and pines away at the sight (of them), and she carps at (people), and is carped at at the same time, and this is her own punishment. Although she hated her, yet Tritonia (i.e. Minerva: the epithet comes from Lake Triton in Libya, her original home) addressed her briefly with the following words: "Infect one of Cecrops' daughters with your venom. That is your task. Aglauros is the one." Saying no more, she vanishes, and, with a thrust of her spear, she departs the earth.

Ll. 787-811.  Envy poisons Aglauros' heart.

She, seeing the departing goddess with her slanting eye, gave out low murmurs, and regretted Minerva's future success, and she takes up her staff, the whole of which bands of thorns encircle, and, shrouded in black clouds, wherever she goes, she tramples down fields in full bloom, scorches the grass and rips off the highest tree-tops, and she pollutes peoples, cities and homes with her breath. And, finally, she catches sight of Tritonia's citadel (i.e. Athens), flourishing with its arts, its wealth, and its festive peace, and she can scarcely hold back her tears, because she sees nothing worthy of tears. But when she entered the bed-chamber of Cecrops' daughter, she carries out her instructions, and touches her breast with a hand stained with rust, and fills her heart with jagged thorns, and she blows a noxious venom upon (her face), and spreads a pitch-black poison across her bones and scatters (it) into the midst of her lungs. And so that the cause of her pain might not stray across a wider distance, she places her sister before her eyes, and her sister's fortunate marriage and the beauty of the god in her imagination, and she magnifies everything. Tormented by these (things), Cecrops' daughter is bitten by secret grief, and, troubled at night and troubled by day, she moans, and, in her utter wretchedness, she wastes away in slow decay, like ice melting in a fitful sun. She is inflamed no more gently by the good fortune of the lucky Herse, than when fire is placed under (a pile of) prickly weeds, which give no flames and are consumed by a slow-burning heat.

Ll. 812-832.  Aglauros is turned to stone.

Often she longed to die, so that she did not have to look at any of these (things), often (she wished) to report (them) to her stern father (i.e. Cecrops) as a crime; finally, she sat down in front of (her sister's) threshold in order to keep out the god, when he came. To him, as he threw compliments and entreaties and the gentlest of words (at her), she said: "Stop! I am not going to move myself from here, unless I have driven you away." "Let us keep to that compact of ours," Cyllenius (i.e. Mercury) quickly replies: and he opened the doors with (a touch of) his heavenly wand. But, as she tries to rise, her limbs, those which we bend (when getting up) from a sitting (position), cannot be moved due to a sluggish heaviness. Indeed, she struggles to raise herself so that her body is upright, but her knee joints stiffen, a coldness seeps through her loins, and her veins grow pale through loss of blood.

And as an untreatable cancer is wont to spread its evil slowly (but) widely, and adds unharmed limbs to the infected (ones), so a deadly chill gradually came upon her breast, and blocked her vital passages and windpipes. She did not try to speak, nor, if she had tried, did she have a means of speech: stone already possessed her neck, and her face had hardened, and a bloodless statue was sitting (there). Nor was she a white stone: her mind had stained it.

Ll. 833-875.  Jupiter's abduction of Europa. 

When the descendant of Atlas (i.e. Mercury) had inflicted these punishments (on the girl) for her words and impious thoughts, he quits the lands ruled by Pallas (i.e. Attica) and takes to the heavens on outstretched wings. His father calls him aside. Without confessing that love (is) his reason, he says, "My son, (you) loyal performer of my commands, brook no delay and fly down quickly on your accustomed course, and (there is) a land in eastern parts, which observes your mother's (star) - its inhabitants call (it) Sidon by name - , make for it, and direct the royal herd (of cattle), which you will see some distance away grazing on mountain grass, to the (sea) shore!" 

He spoke, and the bullocks, expelled from the mountain, immediately make for the required shore, where the great king's daughter (i.e. Europa) used to play, accompanied by Tyrian virgins. Royalty and love are not well fitted, nor do they stay long in the same house: that father and ruler of the gods, whose right (hand) is armed with the three-forked lightning, (and) who shakes the world with his nod, setting aside the dignity of his sceptre, assumes the shape of a bull, and lows as he mingles with the bullocks, and, beautiful (to look at), he prowls around in the tender grass. As you might expect, his colour is (that) of snow, which the steps of a rough foot have not trampled on, nor the rain-filled south wind has melted. His neck is conspicuous by its muscles, his dewlaps hang down to his shoulders, (and) his horns are, indeed, small, but you could maintain that they were fashioned by the hand (of man), (as they are) purer and brighter than pearl. (There are) no threats in his forehead, nor (are) his eyes frightening; his expression is peaceful. The daughter of Agenor (i.e. the King of Phoenicia) is amazed that he is so beautiful, (and) that he threatens no violence. But, at first, she feared to touch (him), although (he was so) gentle: soon she goes up to (him) and holds out flowers to his glistening mouth. He rejoices in his love, and, while the expected pleasure is approaching, he kisses her hands; he can scarcely distinguish then from now. At one moment he frolics and runs riot in the green grass, at another he lays down his snow-white flank on the yellow sands; and, when her fear has gradually been removed, he now offers his chest to be patted by the virgin's hands, and then his horns to be entangled with fresh wreaths (of flowers). The royal virgin even dared to settle on the bull's back, unaware of whom she was sitting on, while the god, (first) from dry land, and (then) from the shore-line, gradually slips his deceitful footsteps into the shallow waves: then, he goes further out and carries his prize over the surface of the mid-ocean. She is terrified, and, having been taken away (from it), she looks back at the abandoned shore, and grips a horn in her right (hand), (while) the other is placed on his back; her fluttering garments are blown about in the breeze.


Last modified onSaturday, 07 April 2018 15:33
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