OVID: METAMORPHOSES BOOK I

Introduction.

Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid) was born in 43 B.C. to an equestrian family resident in Sulmo in the Apennine Hills, east of Rome. Together with his older contempories Virgil and Horace, he is a member of the triumvirate of great Roman poets who flourished during the rule of Augustus (27 B.C. - 14 A.D.) The "Metamorphoses" or "Transformations", written in fifteen books of dactylic hexameters, is his best known, and most read, work, and highlights about 250 myths in which transformations of various types occur, by which humans are transformed into animals, rocks, trees, flowers, constellations, etc.  Although written in the form of an epic, it is really a spoof, in that it lacks any real moral content; on the contrary it is informed by a sceptical, if not cynical spirit, in which the gods are often made to look powerless in the face of "Amor" (Love). It is, nevertheless, an immensely entertaining work, and a great source of classical mythology. It is written in beautiful verse that roles easily off the tongue when one reads it; in it elisions and ecthlipses are relatively few. For all these reasons, the "Metamorphoses" was extremely popular throughout the rest of antiquity, and during the Middle Ages. It was published in 8 A.D., shortly before Ovid was exiled by Augustus to Tomi (the modern port of Constanta) on the west coast of the Black Sea, where he died in 17-18 A.D. 


In spite of its apparently unbroken chronology, starting from the creation of the world and going down to the death of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C., the following four divisions in the "Metamorphoses" have been identified:

Book I - Book II: The Divine Comedy.
Book III - Book VI l. 400: The Avenging Gods.
Book VI. l. 401 - Book XI: The Pathos of Love.
Book XII- Book XV. Rome and the Deified Ruler. 

Book I, translated below, contains the following contents: i) a short invocation to the gods, setting out the purpose of the work, and asking for the gods' support; ii) the formation of the world; iii) the origins of humankind; iv) the four ages of man; v) the giants; vi) Lycaon is turned into a wolf; vii) the flood, and the story of Deucalion and Pyrrha; viii) Phoebus kills the Python; ix) the rape of Daphne by Apollo and her subsequent transformation into a laurel-tree; x) the rape of Io by Jupiter, and her transformation into a heifer; xi) Juno sends Argus to guard Io; xii) Mercury tells the story of Syrinx; xiii) Io is restored to human form; and xiv) the beginning of the story of the ill-fated Phaëthon, completed in Book II. 


Ll. 1-4.  Invocation.

My soul needs to speak of bodies changed into new forms; (you) gods - for you have altered yourselves and all other (things) too -, favour my undertaking and compose a continuous (thread of) song from the world's first origins to my own times. 
 
Ll. 5-20.  Primal Chaos.
 
Before the sea and the land, and the sky, which covers everything, there was one face of nature across the whole world, which (men) have called chaos: (it was) a raw and confused mass, nothing but inert matter, and discordant particles of badly combined things, (which had been) heaped up in the same (place). As yet, no Titan (i.e. the sun) was supplying light to the earth, nor was a waxing Phoebe (i.e. the moon) renewing her horns by coming into being, and the earth was not hovering in the surrounding air, balanced by her own weight, nor was Amphitrite (i.e. the sea) stretching out her arms along the long shores of the earth. And, although (there was) air, land and sea and sky was in that place too. So, the land was unstable, the sea (was) not fit to swim in, (and) the air (was) in need of light; nothing retained its shape, one thing obstructed another, because, in the one body, cold (parts) fought with hot (ones), moist (parts) with dry (ones), soft (parts) with hard (ones), and (things) possessing weight (those) without weight.  
 
Ll. 21-31.  Separation of the Elements.
 
A god and a greater (order of) nature put an end to this conflict. For he split off the earth from the sky and the sea from the land, and divided the clear heavens from the dense atmosphere. When he had disentangled these (elements) and freed (them) from the obscure mass, he fixed (them) in places separately in harmonious peace. The fiery and weightless force of vaulted heaven darted forth and made its home on the top of the heights: next came air in its lightness and place: earth, heavier than (either of) these, drew down the largest elements and was compressed by its own weight: the surrounding water took up the last (space) and enclosed the solid world.  
 
Ll. 32-51.  The earth and sea. The five zones. 

When whichever god it was (who had) so arranged and divided the mass and collected (it) into separate parts, he first formed the earth into the shape of a great ball, so that it it was uniform on all sides. Then, he diffused the seas, and ordered (them) to billow in the rapid winds, and to flow around the coasts of the encircled land. He also added springs and deep pools and lakes, and bound with sloping banks the downward flowing rivers, some of which are swallowed by (the earth) itself, (while) others reach the sea in different places, and, having been received amid the wide expanse of uncontrolled water, they beat against the coastlines instead of riverbanks. Then he ordered the plains to be expanded, the valleys to subside, the woods to be covered over with foliage, and stony mountains to rise up; and, just as zones divide the heavens, two on the right(-hand) side, and the same number on the left, (while) there is a fifth (and) hotter (one) between them, so the care of the god marked out the enclosed matter with the same number, and the same number of zones was imposed upon the earth. Of these, (the one) which is in the middle is not habitable due to the heat; deep snow covers two (of them): (and) he placed the same number between both of them, and gave (them) a temperate climate, mixing heat with cold.

Ll. 52-68.  The Four Winds.

Air overhangs them. It is heavier than fire by as much as the weight of water is lighter than the weight of earth. There he ordered the vapours and the clouds to exist, and thunder and the winds that create flashes of lightning and thunderbolts to disturb minds. Also, the maker of the world did not allow these (winds) to possess the air indiscriminately: as it is, they are scarcely prevented from tearing the world apart, although each directs his blasts on a separate course: so great is the discord between brothers. The Eurus (i.e. the East Wind) withdrew to Aurora (i.e. the East) and the realms of Nabataea (i.e. Arabia), and Persia, and that mountain range lit up by morning sunbeams (i.e. the Caucasus). Evening, and the coasts which are warm in the setting sun, are close to the Zephyrus (i.e. the West Wind): the chilly Boreas (i.e. the North Wind) has taken hold of Scythia (i.e. North-East of the Black Sea) and the seven stars of the Plough: the land opposite is drenched by the Auster (i.e. the South Wind) with its incessant clouds and rain. Over these, he places the clear sky, devoid of weight, and possessing no earthly dross.

Ll. 69-88.  Humankind.

Scarcely had he thus separated out everything within fixed limits, when the constellations, which had been compressed and had lain hidden in that mass, began to blaze out across the whole of the sky.

So that no region might be deprived of its own animate beings, the stars and the forms of the gods occupied the floor of heaven, the seas allowed (themselves) to be inhabited by shining fish, the earth took wild animals, and the light air flying (creatures).

As yet, an animal, more virtuous and more capable of elevated thought than these, and which could be the ruler of the rest, was lacking. (Then) man was born; either that creator of things, the source of a better world, made him from a divine seed, or the new-born earth, just drawn from the high heavens, retained seeds related to the sky, (one of) which, the offspring of Iapetus (i.e. Prometheus), having blended (it) with streams of rain, moulded into an image of the all-controlling gods. While the other animals look downwards at the ground, he gave mankind a lofty aspect, and commanded (them) to look at the sky, and to raise their upright faces to the stars. So, the earth, which had just been raw and without an image, changed and assumed the unknown shapes of human beings.

Ll. 89-112.  The Golden Age.

First born was the Golden Age, that, with no enforcer, spontaneously, (and) without laws, nurtured good faith and rectitude. Punishment and fear were absent, and no threatening words, fixed in bronze, were read, and no crowd of suppliants was afraid of the face of its judge, but they lived safely without a protector. No pine-tree, felled in their mountains, had gone down to the flowing waves in order to visit a foreign land, and human beings knew no shores but their own. No steep ditches were yet encircling towns; there were no straight war-trumpets, no horns of coiled brass, no helmets, no swords: carefree peoples passed their lives amid gentleness and ease, without the custom of military service. The earth, herself, free from, and untouched by, the plough, nor scarred by any mattocks, also produced everything by herself; contented with food without cultivation, they gathered the fruit of the strawberry-tree, and mountain strawberries, and cornelian cherries, and blackberries clinging to tough bramble-bushes, and acorns which had fallen from Jupiter's spreading (oak-)trees. Spring was eternal and gentle westerlies caressed with warm breezes the flowers that grew without seed. Then too, the earth bore its produce untilled, and, without being renewed, the fields whitened with heavy ears of corn; sometimes rivers of milk flowed, (and) at other times rivers of nectar, and golden honey trickled from the green holm-oaks.

Ll. 113-124.  The Silver Age.

When, Saturn having been sent to gloomy Tartarus, the world was first under (the control of) Jupiter, there came the people of the Age of Silver, inferior to gold, (but) more valuable than yellow bronze. Jupiter shortened the duration of the former spring, and made the year into four seasons, by means of winters and summers and changeable autumns and a brief spring. Then, the air glowed white, parched by the dry heat, and the ice hung down, frozen by the winds. Then, houses were first built - (before that) homes had been caves, and dense thickets, and branches fastened with bark. Then, seeds of corn were first buried in long furrows, and bullocks groaned, having been oppressed by the yoke.

Ll. 125-150.  The Bronze and Iron Ages.

After that came the people of the Third, the Bronze, (Age), more savage by nature and more inclined towards dreadful warfare, but not yet impious. Last was the harsh (Age) of Iron. Immediately, every (kind of) wickedness burst into this age of a baser nature: shame, truth and honour vanished; in their place came fraud, deceit and treachery, as well as violence and a wicked passion for possession. The sailor gave his sails to the winds - as yet he had not learned about them very well - ; and the ships' keels, which had long stood on high mountains, (now) leapt about in uncharted waves, and the land, once common (to all), just as the light of the sun and the air (is), a wary surveyor has (now) marked out with a long boundary-line. Not only did they demand the crops and the food that the rich soil owed (them), but they (even) entered the bowels of the earth: and they dig out the wealth, a (very) incitement to evil, which it had concealed and removed into Stygian shadows. And now harmful iron had appeared, and gold, more harmful than iron: (now) comes war, which fights for both of these, and shakes its clattering weapons with blood-stained hands. The live on plunder: guest (is) not safe with host, father-in-law (is) not (safe) with son-in-law; kindness, too, is rare between brothers. A husband longs for the death of his wife, she for her husband's; murderous step-mothers mix deadly aconite; a son inquires into his father's age before his time. Piety lies dead, and the virgin Astraea (i.e. the Goddess of Justice), the last of the immortals, abandoned the blood-soaked earth. 

 Ll. 151-176.  The giants.

And so that the heights of heaven should be no safer than the earth, they say that the Giants tried to take over the heavenly kingdom, and they collected and piled the mountains up to the stars. Then, the Almighty Father dispatched his thunderbolt and fractured Olympus, and cast Pelion down from Ossa below (it). They say that Earth had been flooded and drenched with streams of her sons' blood, when their dreadful bodies lay buried by that mass, and that (she) breathed life into their hot blood, and, lest no trace of her stock should remain, she transformed (it) into the shape of human beings. But, (so that) you may know (they were) born from their blood, that progeny were also contemptuous of the gods, and savage, very eager for slaughter, and violent.

When the son of Saturn, the Father (of the gods), saw these (things) from the top of his citadel, he groans, and, recalling the vile feast at Lycaon's table (i.e. Lycaon was the king of Arcadia, and his sons had offered Jupiter, who was disguised as a traveller, a banquet containing human remains), he conceives in his mind a great anger, and (one) befitting Jupiter, and he calls a council: no impediment held back (the number of those) summoned.

There is a lofty track, (which) can be seen (when) the sky (is) clear: it has the name 'Milky (Way)', (and it is) known for its very brightness. By this (way) the gods have a route to the palace and the royal home of the mighty Thunderer. On its right (side) and on its left, the forecourts of the houses of the noble gods, their doors open, are crowded - inferior (gods) abide in other places: in this area the powerful and renowned gods have made their homes. This is the place, which, if I were allowed to be daring in words, I should not be afraid to have called the Palatine of high heaven.

Ll. 177-198.  Jupiter threatens to destroy mankind. 

So when the gods had taken their seats in the marble hall, he, himself, higher (than anyone else) in the place, and leaning on his ivory sceptre, shook the awful hair on his head three or four times, by which (means) he disturbed the earth, the sea and the stars. Then, he loosened his indignant lips in the following manner: "I was not more troubled (than I am now) about the world's sovereignty at that time when each one of the snake-footed (giants) was preparing to throw his hundred arms around the imprisoned sky. For, although the enemy was a fierce (one), yet their attack came in one body and from one source. Now, I must destroy the human race, wherever Nereus (i.e. a god of the sea) sounds throughout the world: I swear (it) by the infernal streams that glide beneath the earth through the groves of the Styx (i.e. the main river of the Underworld)! Everything (should be) tried first: but the incurable flesh must be cut away by the sword, lest the healthy part is infected. Mine are the demi-gods, and the rustic deities, the nymphs, the fauns, the satyrs, and the mountain-dwelling (spirits) of the woods: since we do not yet think them to be worthy of a place in heaven, let us allow (them) to live safely in the lands which we have given (them). O gods, do you believe they will be sufficiently safe, when Lycaon, known for his savagery, arranges ambushes for me, who both holds the thunderbolt and rules over you?"

Ll. 199-243.  Lycaon is turned into a wolf.

All (the gods) murmured loudly and demand with fiery zeal (punishment of the man who) dared (to commit) such (crimes). (It was) thus, when that impious band burned to extinguish the Roman name in the blood of Caesar, the human race was stunned by such fear of a sudden disaster, and the whole world shuddered with horror. Your people's devotion is no less pleasing to you, Augustus, than theirs was to Jupiter. When he had checked their murmuring by word and by gesture, they all kept silent. When the noise subsided, suppressed by the authority of their ruler, Jupiter again broke the silence with these words: "He, indeed, has paid the penalty - dismiss that fear of yours. But I will tell (you) what his crime (was), (and) what was his punishment. The infamy of the times has reached my ears. Wishing (it were) false, I slip down from high Olympus, and traverse the earth (as) a god in human form. It would take too much time to recount what great wickedness was everywhere to be found: the rumour of evil was less than the truth (of it). I had crossed the (mountains of) Maenala, bristling with the lairs of wild beasts, and Cyllene, and the pine-woods of Lycaeus: then, when the last of the twilight was giving way to night, I enter the inhospitable home and palace of that Arcadian tyrant. I gave the signs that a god had come, and the people began to worship (me): at first Lycaon ridiculed their pious prayers; then he said, "I shall prove, by a straightforward test, (whether) he is a god or a mortal. The truth will not be in doubt." He arranges to destroy me by an unexpected death at night (while I am) deep in sleep: that test of truth is pleasing to him. Nor is he content with this; he cuts open with a knife the throat of a single hostage sent by the tribe of the Molossi, and thus he makes tender some of the still warm limbs in boiling water, (and) he roasted others in a fire placed beneath (them). As soon as he placed this on the table, I brought down by an avenging flash of lightning the roof and the household gods (that were) worthy of such a master. He, himself, flees in terror, and reaching the silence of the countryside, he howls aloud, and tries in vain to speak. His mouth acquires it own foam, and, with a desire for his accustomed slaughter, he turns on the sheep, and now rejoices in their blood too. His clothes turn into hair, his arms into legs: he becomes a wolf, but keeps some vestige of his former shape. There is the same grey hair, the same furious face, his eyes glitter in same way, the  picture of ferocity is the same.

One house falls. But that house was not deserving to perish alone: wherever the earth extends, a wild Fury rules. You would think (men) were sworn to crime. Let them all swiftly pay the penalty which they deserve to suffer - so stands my sentence!"

Ll. 244-273.  Jupiter invokes the floodwaters.

Some approve Jupiter's words by exclamation, and add their encouragement to (fuel) his anger, (while) others show their assent. Yet, the downfall of the human race is (a source) of grief to all (of them), and they ask what would be the future shape of the earth, (if it were) bereft of mortals, who would offer frankincense at the altars, and whether he would arrange to surrender the earth to be ravaged by wild beasts? The king of the gods forbids (them) to be alarmed, (when) asking such (questions) - for the rest would be his concern - , and he promises a very different offspring from the first people, a marvellous creation. 

And now he was ready to hurl his thunderbolts at the whole world; but he feared lest the sacred ether might, by accident, develop flames from the fires below and that the furthest pole might burn. He also recalled that it was stated in the (scroll of) fate that there would come a time when the sea, and the earth, and the untouched courts of the sky would catch fire and the guarded mass of the world would be in trouble. So the weapons forged by the handiwork of the Cyclopes are set aside: he resolves on a different punishment, (that is) to send down rain from the whole sky, and to drown the human race beneath the waves.

At once, he shuts up the North Wind, and those gales which disperse the gathering clouds, in the caves of Aeolus (i.e. the King of the Winds, whose caves are on the islands of Lipari, off the coast of Sicily), and lets loose the South Wind. The South Wind flies with dripping wings, his terrible face hidden in a pitch-black mist: his beard (is) heavy with rain, water flows from his hoary hair; mists settle on his brow, and his wings and the folds of his robes drip with dew. And, when he completely crushes the overhanging clouds in his hands, there is a crash: then, dense rains are unleashed from heaven. Juno's messenger, Iris, dressed in a variety of colours, absorbs the water, and brings (it) to the clouds (as) nourishment. The cornfields are flattened, and the farmer's hopes are despaired of and lie in ruins, and the futile labour of a long year is wasted.  

Ll. 274-292.  The Flood. 

Jupiter's anger is not content with his (rule) of the heavens, but his azure brother (i.e. Neptune) assists him with his helpful waves. He summons the streams. When they entered their ruler's abode, he says, "A long exhortation is now of no use. Exert (all) your strength: that's what is needed! Open up your houses, and, having dredged the sludge, loosen all the reins of your rivers!" (Thus) he commanded; they return and widen their fountain's mouths, and roll in an unbridled course to the sea. He, himself, strikes the ground with his trident: and it trembles, and, by that blow, opens up channels for the water. Overflowing, the rivers rush across the open plains, and, at the same time, carry off orchards with their crops, flocks, men, houses, and holy temples with their sacred (vessels). If any house has stood firm, and has been able to survive the great disaster intact, yet the deeper waves conceal its roof, and its towers are overwhelmed and buried beneath the flood.

And now the sea and the land had no distinction: everything was the sea; the sea, also, was without shores.

Ll. 293-312.  The world is drowned. 

One man takes possession of a hill-top; another (man) sits in his curved boat and pulls his boat at a place where he had lately been ploughing. A man sails over his cornfields or the roof of his drowned farmhouse; another catches a fish on the top of an elm-tree. If chance brings it about, an anchor is embedded in a green meadow or curved keels graze the vineyards that lie beneath (them); and where, a moment ago, skinny goats plucked the grass, now shapeless seals place their bodies. The Nereids are astonished (to see) woods and towns and houses under water, and dolphins occupy the woodlands and invade the higher branches, and thump the oak-trees as they brush against (them). The wolf swims among sheep (and) the waves carry tawny lions and tigers, and, (now) that they have been swept away, the boar has no use for the strength of his charge nor the stag for his speedy legs. And the wandering bird, having searched for land for long time, falls on tired wings into the sea. The boundless freedom of the sea had buried the hills, and fresh waves beat against the mountain tops. Most living things are carried off by the waves; those (things) which the waters spare, a protracted hunger overcomes through a lack of food.

Ll. 313-347.  Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha. 

Phocis, (i.e. a region of central Greece between Boeotia and Aetolia) a fertile country, when it was (still) land, separates Aonia (a part of Boeotia that contains Mount Helicon) from the fields of Oeta (i.e. a mountain range between Aetolia and Thessaly), but at that time (it was) part of the sea and a wise expanse of suddenly (created) water. There a steep mountain, Parnassus (i.e. a mountain in Phocis sacred to Apollo and the Muses) by name, aims for the stars with its two peaks, and its summits overtop the clouds. Here, Deucalion (i.e. King of Phthia and son of Prometheus) and the wife of his bed stuck fast, when they had been conveyed (there) in their small boat - for the waters had drowned everywhere else - , (and) they worship the Corycian nymphs (i.e. nymphs of the Corycian cave on Mount Parnassus) and the mountain deities and the prophetic Themis (i.e. a Titaness and the daughter of Uranus and Gaia), whom the oracle then possessed. There was not any man (who was) better or more fond of justice than him, nor any (woman) more afraid of the gods than her. When Jupiter sees that the world is flooded with clear waters, and that only one man is left of all those many thousands, and that only one (woman) is left of all those many thousands, (and) that both (are) innocent (and) that both (are) worshippers of the gods, he dispersed the clouds and blew away the rain-storms through the North Wind, and shows the earth to the sky and the heavens to the earth. Nor does any of the sea's anger remain,and, putting aside his three-pronged weapon, the ruler of the ocean calms the waters and summons the dark-blue Triton (i.e. a sea and river god, the son of Neptune and Amphitrite, usually depicted as half-man and half-fish), showing from the depths his shoulders covered with floating purple shells, and bids (him) blow into his echoing conch, and (thus) give the signal now to recall the streams and rivers. The hollow horn is brought to him, coiled in broad spirals that rise up from its base, that horn, which had absorbed his breath somewhere in the midst of the ocean, and he fills the shores on both sides of the situation of the sun (i.e. of both east and west) with his sound. Then, also, as it touched the lips of the god (i.e. Triton), made wet by his dripping beard, and was blown and sounded the order to retreat, it was heard by all the waters of the earth and the sea, and it checked all the waters, by which it was heard. Now the sea has shore-lines, the river-bed takes brimming streams, the rivers subside, and the hills appear to spring up, the soil arises, (and) places grow in size, as the waves diminish, and, after a long day, the trees show their naked tops and keep the mud left on their foliage.

Ll. 348-380.  They ask Themis for help.

The world was restored. (But) when Deucalion saw that (it was) empty and that a deep silence attended the desolate lands, he addresses Pyrrha (i.e. wife and cousin of Deucalion, and the daughter of the Titan Epimetheus) thus through welling tears: "O sister, O wife, O sole surviving woman, whom a shared race and family origin, then a marriage-bed, have joined to me, now these very dangers join (us); we are two of a multitude (of people) from whatever lands the setting and the rising (sun) may see; the sea has taken all the rest. Yet still, the security of these lives of ours is not sufficiently sure; even now the storm-clouds terrify my mind. What feelings would you now have, poor (soul), if you had been rescued by the Fates without me? How could you bear your fear alone? Who would console you in you suffering? For, believe me, (dear) wife, if the sea had you, I would follow you too, and the sea would have me also. Oh, would that I could retrieve the people by my father's arts and breathe life into the fashionable clay! Now, the race of mortals depends on the two of us - the gods decreed thus - and we remain the (only) examples of mankind."

He finished speaking, and they wept. They resolves to appeal to the sky god and to seek his help through the sacred oracles. There is no delay: they went together to the springs of Cephisus (i.e. a river in Phocis) (which), although not yet clear, was already flowing through it familiar channels. Then, when they had sprinkled watery libations on their heads and clothing, they turn their footsteps to the sanctuary of the sacred goddess (i.e. at Delphi, where Themis held the oracle) the pediments of which were made pale with disfiguring moss, and the altars (of which) were standing without fires. When they reached the steps, they both fall forward down on the ground the cold rock kisses in a trembling manner, and they spoke thus: "If the divine will, convinced by the prayers of the just, is softened, if the gods' anger can be deflected, tell (us), Themis, by what art the damage to our race may be retrievable, and bring help, (O) most mild (lady), to a world (that has been) drowned."

Ll. 381-415.  The human race is re-created.

The goddess was moved, and made a prophetic statement: "Leave this temple, and veil your heads and loosen the clothes that encompass (you), and (then) throw behind you the bones of your great mother."

For a long time, they stood (there) dumbfounded; then Pyrrha (is) the first (to) break the silence with her speech, and she refuses to obey the goddess's commands, and with trembling lips she asks that she give her her pardon, and she is afraid to offend her mother's shades (i.e. those of Pandora) by scattering her bones. Meanwhile, they reconsider the unclear words of the goddess (which she had) given in her hidden retreat, and ponder (them) in their own (minds) and between themselves. Then, the son of Prometheus comforts the daughter of Epimetheus with quiet words, and says: "Either we have some deceptive ingenuity (here), or the oracles are pious and urge no evil deed (upon us). The earth is our great mother; I think the bones she spoke of (are) stones in the body of the earth; (it is) these we are being told to throw behind us."

Although Titania (i.e. the Titan's daughter, Pyrrha) is encouraged by her husband's interpretation, her hopes are still in doubt: they are both very distrustful of the divine promptings. But what harm can it do to try? They go down, and veil their heads and loosen their tunics, and discharge the required stones behind them as they go. The stones  - who would believe it were it not for the testimony of ancient tradition? - began to lose their hardness and rigidity, and, after a pause, to grow soft, and, having softened, to acquire a (new) form. Then, when they had grown, and a milder nature had affected them, a certain manly shape could be seen, not clear but more like rough statues made of marble, and, at first, not finished enough. Yet, somehow out of these the part, which was wet with moisture and earthy, turned into flesh. What is solid and unable to bend, is changed into bone; what was only veins remained under the same name; and in a short space (of time), through the will of the gods, those stones (which had been) thrown by the hands of a man took on the appearance of men, and a woman was remade from the throw of a woman. Ever since, we exist (as) a tough race, and (one) able to endure (hard) labour, and we give proof of the source from which we are sprung.

Ll. 416-437.  Other species are generated.

Earth spontaneously created other animals in diverse forms; after the former moisture had become warm through the fire of the sun, and the mud and the damp marshland had swelled in the heat and the fertile seeds of things, nourished by life-giving soil, as if in a mother's womb, had grown, and, after some space of time, had taken a certain nature. So, when the seven-streamed Nile abandoned the water-logged fields to their former beds, and the fresh mud burned in the etherial (rays of) the sun. farmers find a multitude of animals as the turn the lumps of earth, and, amongst them, some just spawned in the very moment of being born, some imperfect and lacking a number of their (limbs); and often in the same body one part is alive, (and) another part is raw earth. For in fact, when moisture and heat have assumed the right mixture, they conceive, and from these two (things) everything (else) arises; and, although fire is fond of fighting water, humid vapour creates all things, and a discordant union is suitable for growth. So, when the earth, made muddy by the recent flood, glowed again in the deep heat of the sun, she brought forth countless species, and, in some cases, she renewed old forms, (but), in other cases, she created fresh monsters.

Ll. 438-473.  Phoebus kills the Python and sees Daphne.

Indeed, she would not have wished (to do so), but she then gave birth to you too, (O) mighty Python, (you) unknown serpent, you (who) were a terror to the new people (of the earth): you occupied so much of the space of the mountain. The archer-god (i.e. Phoebus Apollo), with such weapons (that he had) never employed before except on buck- and roe-deer, with a thousand arrows almost emptying his quiver, destroyed this huge (creature), with the venom pouring out of his black wounds. Lest great age should destroy the fame of this deed, he founded the sacred Pythian games, celebrated by contests, called by the name of the serpent (he had) conquered.

Then, those young men who had been the winners in boxing, or on foot, or in chariot (racing) received the award of oak leaves: there was yet no laurel; (so) Phoebus was wont to wreathe his temples and his comely long hair (with the leaves) of whatever tree you like.

Phoebus' first love (was) Daphne, the daughter of Peneus (i.e. a river in Thessaly that flowed from Mount Pindar through the Vale of Tempe), which no unknown chance but Cupid's fierce anger caused. The Delian (god) (i.e. Phoebus), proud of his recent conquest of the serpent, had seen him bending his tightly-strung bow, and had said, "What (are) you (doing), (O you) impudent boy, with a brave (man)'s weapons? Those arms are suited to my shoulders, I who can give certain (wounds) to wild beasts, (and can) give wounds to my enemies, I, who have just laid low with countless arrows the swollen Python that was covering so many acres with its plague-ridden belly. You should be content to stir loves, of which I am unaware, with your burning brand, and not lay claim to my glories."

Venus' son (i.e. Cupid) says to him: "Your bow may hit everything (else), Phoebus, (but) mine (will hit) you. To the extent that all animals are inferior to gods, so your glory is less than mine."

He spoke, and striking the air with beating wings, he landed on the shady peak of (Mount) Parnassus with a flourish, and took two darts with different effects from his arrow-bearing quiver: one repels love, the other excites (it). (The one) that excites (it) is golden and glistens with a sharp point; (the one) that repels (it) is blunt and has lead at the bottom of its shaft. The god drives the second (one) into the nymph Peneis (i.e. Daphne), but with the first he wounded the marrow of Apollo, piercing (him) to the bone.

Ll. 474-503.  Phoebus pursues Daphne.

Straightway, one is in love, (but) the other flees the name of loving, delighting in the shadows of the woods and in the skins of the wild beasts (she had) caught, and emulating the unmarried Phoebe (i.e. Diana). A ribbon controlled her carelessly arranged hair. Many sought her (hand), (but) she, averse from wooing, impatient and free of men, roams the pathless woods, and cares not what Marriage, what Love, (or) what wedlock may involve. Often, her father said (to her), "Daughter, you owe me a son-in-law," often her father said (to her), "Child, you owe me grandsons:" hating the nuptial torch, as if (it were akin to) a crime, her beautiful face is suffused with bashful redness, and, clinging to her father's neck with coaxing arms, she said:" Dearest father, give me give me perpetually the virginity I have enjoyed: Diana's father (i.e. Jupiter) granted it (to her) previously." He, indeed, complies, but that beauty of yours prevents what you wish from happening, (Daphne). Your loveliness opposes your prayer: having seen (her), Phoebus loves (her), and desires marriage with Daphne, and he hopes for what he desires, but his own oracular powers fail him. And, as the light stubble of a harvested cornfield blazes, as a hedge is fired by a torch, which a traveller happens either to have brought too close, or to have left behind at daybreak, so the god went about on fire, so he burns in all of his heart, and feeds his fruitless passion with hope. He observes the disordered hair hanging about her neck, and says, "What, if it were (properly) arranged?" He sees her eyes, sparkling with fire like the stars, he gazes on her lips, yes (those lips) which (it is) not enough (just) to have gazed at; he praises her fingers, and her hands, and her fore-arms, and her upper-arms bare from the elbow. Whatever is hidden, he imagines more beautiful. (But) she flees, swifter than a light breath of air, nor does she stop at these words (of his) as he calls (her) back:

Ll. 504-524.  Phoebus begs Daphne to yield to him.

Wait, nymph Peneis, I beg (you)! I (who) am chasing (you), (am) not your enemy. Wait, nymph! So a sheep (runs from) a wolf, so a deer (runs from) a lion, so doves with their fluttering wings, flee from an eagle, each (flees) their own foe: (but) love is my reason for following (you). (O) wretched me! (I am afraid) lest you fall headlong, or that thorns may mark your legs to be marred undeservedly, and that I am the cause of your grief. These are rough places that you are running through. Run more slowly, I beg (you), and check your flight, and I, myself, will pursue (you) less keenly. At least inquire whom (it is) you are charming. I am no inhabitant of a mountain, nor a shepherd, nor am I, a rough (man), watching herds and flocks in this place. Rash (girl), you do not know, you are not aware, whom you are running from. The land of Delphi is mine, and Claros (i.e. a town in Ionia between Smyrna and Ephesus), and Tenedos (i.e. an island off the Trojan coast), and the palace at Patara (i.e. a town in Lycia) acknowledge (me as their king). Jupiter is my father; through me, what will be, what was and is, lie open; through me songs are in harmony with strings. My (aim) is indeed sure, but one arrow which (is) truer than mine has made a wound in my uncommitted heart. Medicine is my invention, and I am called the bringer of aid throughout the world, and my power (is) subject to herbs; (but) woe (is) me, because love is not curable by any herbs, nor do the arts that benefit everyone (else) benefit their lord."

Ll. 525-551Daphne becomes a laurel bush.

Peneis flees from (him), on her fearful course, as he is about to say more, and when, she, then still a lovely sight, left him, his words (are) unfinished. The winds bared her body, and the opposing breezes caused her clothes to flutter in their path, and a light breath of air made her hair stream behind (her), and her beauty is enhanced by her flight. But actually the young god could not bear to waste any further (time) on flattery, and, as Love, itself, was urging (him) on, he follows (in) her footsteps with full speed. (It is) like when a Gallic hound sees a hare in an empty field, and the former seeks his prey at a run, (while) the latter (seeks) refuge; (it is) like when the former hopes that the latter is about to be caught, and he is just about to get hold (of it), and he grazes its heels with his snout, the latter is uncertain whether it has been caught, and escapes his bites and evades the mouth touching (it): so are the god and the virgin, he driven by hope, she by fear. Still, animated by the wings of Love, he pursues (her); he runs faster, and denies (her) any rest, and grasps at her back as she flies, and breathes on the hair (which is) strewn around her neck. Her strength exhausted, she grew pale, and overcome by the effort of her rapid flight, (and) catching sight of the waters of the Peneus, she cries out, "Help (me), Father, if your streams have divine power. By changing (me), destroy this shape, by which I have pleased too much!" She has scarcely finished her prayer, (when) a heavy numbness seizes hold of her limbs, (and) her soft breast is enclosed by a thin bark, her hair grows into leaves, her arms into branches, her feet, so swift a moment ago, stick fast in slow-growing roots, her face has a canopy; only her shining beauty remains.

Ll. 552-566.  Phoebus honours Daphne.

Even now, Phoebus loves her, and placing his hand on the trunk he feels her heart, still beating under the fresh bark, and, clasping the branches with his arms as if (they were human) limbs, he kisses the wood: yet even the wood shrinks from his kisses.

The god said to her, "Since you cannot be my bride, you will surely be my tree. My hair will always have you, my lyre (will always have) you, my quiver (will always have) you; you will go with the Latin (i.e. Roman) generals, when joyful voices celebrate a triumph, and the Capitol witnesses their long processions; in the same way, (as) a most faithful guardian of Augustus' door-posts, you will stand in front of the gates and keep watch over the (crown of) oak between (them), and, just as my head with its uncropped hair is (always) young, (so) you also will always bear the undying glory of your leaves."

Paean (i.e. the Healer, an epithet of Phoebus Apollo) had finished (speaking): the laurel bowed her newly made branches, and seemed to shake her crown like a head (giving assent).

Ll. 567-586.  The rivers of Thessaly meet: Inachus mourns for Io.

There is a grove in Haemonia (i.e. Thessaly), which steep woodlands enclose on all sides: they call (it) Tempe. Through it the (River) Peneus, pouring forth from the bottom of (Mount) Pindus, rolls along with its foaming waters, and, (while) driving along the misty steam in its violent fall, it gathers clouds, and rains spray on to the tops of the trees, and deafens quite a wide area with its roar. Here (is) the house, here (is) the home, here is the innermost sanctuary of the great river; settling here in a cavern made in the rocks, he gave laws to the waters and to the nymphs who lived in his streams. Here the rivers of his country meet for the first time, unsure (whether) they should congratulate or console the father: Spercheos, rich in poplars, and restless Enipeus, and ancient Apidanus, and gentle Amphrysus and Aeas, and, then shortly afterwards, (all) the other rivers that, however their force carries them, bring down their waters, wearied by their wanderings, to the sea.

Only Inachus is absent, and, hidden at the bottom of a cave, he swells the waters (of his stream) with tears, and, in utter misery, laments his daughter Io as lost. He does not know whether she is enjoying life or is among the shades; but he does not find her anywhere. He imagines that (she) is nowhere, and in his heart he fears worse (things).

Ll. 587-599.  Jupiter's rape of Io. 

Jupiter had seen her returning from her father's stream, and had said (to her), "O virgin, worthy of Jupiter, who will make some (man), I know not whom, happy in your bed, look for the shade in the deep woods" - and he had shown her the woods' shade - "while it is hot and the sun is at the highest (point) in the midst of its orbit. But, if you are afraid to enter the lairs of wild beasts alone, you will go into the remote places of the woods in safety, protected by a god, and not by a lesser god, but by (the one) who holds the sceptre of the heavens in his mighty hand, and who hurls the unrestrained bolts of lightning. Do not fly from me!" - for she was already in flight. She had already left behind the pastures of Lerna (i.e. the marshlands of the Argolis, and the home of the Hydra), and the fields of Lyrcaea (i.e. a region of the Peloponnese between Argolis and Arcadia), sown with trees, when the god (i.e. Jupiter) hid the wide earth within a covering of fog, and checked her flight and carried off her chastity.

Ll. 600-620.  Jupiter transforms Io into a heifer. 

Meanwhile, Juno looked down into the midst of the fields, and (was) surprised that rapid mists had created the appearance of night during the brightness of daytime, (and) she did not feel that these were (vapours) from the river, or that they had been released from the damp earth; and she looked around (to see) where her husband was, as she knew by now the tricks of a spouse so often caught in the act. When she did not find him in the sky, she says, "Either I am wrong, or I am being wronged," and, gliding down from the summit of the heavens, she stood on the earth and ordered the clouds to recede. He (i.e. Jupiter) had a foreboding of his wife's arrival and had changed the appearance of Inachus' daughter into (that of) a gleaming heifer. (But) the ox is still beautiful. Saturnia (i.e. Juno, the daughter of Saturn) approves the look of the cow, although grudgingly, and, moreover, she asks to whom she belongs and from where or from what herd (she comes), as if (she is) unaware of the truth. In order that her originator should cease to be the subject of inquiry, Jupiter says falsely that she comes from the earth. (Then,) Saturnia asks for her (as) a gift. What should he do? (It would be) cruel to sacrifice his love, (but if he) did not give (her), he would be the object of suspicion. Shame it is that urges him to do it, (but it is) love (that) dissuades him from it. Shame would have been conquered by love; but if (so) slight a gift (as) this cow were denied to the companion of his race and bed, she might not appear (to be) a cow.

Ll. 621-640.  Juno claims Io, and then Argus guards her.

Though her rival had been given (to her), the goddess did not put aside all her fears at once, and was wary of Jupiter and was anxious about his trickery, until she handed (her) over to Argus, the son of Arestor, to be guarded.

Argus had a head encompassed with a hundred eyes; they took their rest two at a time in their turn, (while) the rest kept watch and stayed on guard. In whatever way he stood, he was (always) looking at Io: Io (was) before his eyes, even though he had turned his back. He allows (her) to graze in the light; when he sun is below the depths of the earth, he pens (her) and places a rope around her undeserving neck. She grazes on the leaves of trees and on bitter herbs, and for a bed she lies on the ground, not always having any grass, and, poor (thing), she drinks (water from) muddy streams. Even when she wished to stretch out her hands to Argus in supplication, she had no arms which she could stretch out to Argus. Then, trying to complain, a lowing (sound) came out of her mouth, and she was greatly alarmed at the noise, and was terrified by the (sound of) her own voice.

Then, she came to the river banks, the banks of the Inachus, where she often used to play; but, when she saw her new horns in the water, she was greatly alarmed and fled away in fear of herself.

Ll. 641-666.  Inachus finds Io, and grieves for her. 

The Naiads do not know and Inachus himself does not know who she is; but she follows her father and follows her sisters, and allows (herself) to be patted, and offers herself to be admired. Old Inachus pulled up some grasses and held (them) out (to her); she licks her father's hands and kisses his palms, and she cannot hold back her tears, and, id only words would come, she could beg for help and tell her name and (the source of) her distress. Letters, which her hoof drew in the dust instead of words, traced the sad story of her changed body. "Poor me!" exclaims her father Inachus, and, as he hangs on to the horns and neck of the groaning snow-white heifer, he repeats (the words) "Poor me! Are you (really) my daughter, whom I have been searching for across the whole world? Although you have been found again, you were (the object of) less grief when you were lost. You are without speech, nor can you reply to my words with your own in turn; you can only heave deep sighs from your breast, and the one (thing) that you can do is to low in response to my words. Witout your knowledge, I was arranging a marriage and a marriage-bed for you, and I had hopes, first, of a son-in-law, (and) then of grandchildren. Now you (must get) a mate from the herd, now (you) must get a son from the herd. Nor can I bring such sorrow to an end by dying, for it hurts to be a god, and the door of death, being closed (to me), extends my grief to all time."

As she thus mourned, strarry-eyed Argus drives (her) off, and, having plucked his daughter from her father's (arms), he drags (her) away. He occupies a high mountain peak, (and) sitting there he keeps watch, from a distance, in all directions.

Ll. 667-687.  Jupiter sends Mercury to kill Argus. 

The ruler of the gods cannot bear any longer the great sufferings of Phoronis (i.e. Io), and he calls his son (i.e. Mercury) to whom the shining Pleiad (i.e. Maia) gave birth, and orders (him) to put Argus to death. Delay is short: (then, he put) wings on his feet, and took up his sleep-inducing wand in his powerful hand, (and fixed) his cap on his head. When he had arranged these (things), the son of Jupiter springs down to earth from his father's stronghold. Once there, he removed his cap, and put aside his wings, (and) only retained his wand. With this, (disguised) as a shepherd, he drives she-goats, acquired (on the way), through the deserted countryside, and he plays on the strings of his reed-pipe while he goes. Juno's guard (is) captivated by this new sound. "You there, whoever you are," says Argus, "You could sit beside me on this rock, for there is no more abundant grass for your flock in any (other) place, and you can see that the shade (is) fine for shepherds. Atlas' descendant (i.e. his grandson Mercury) sits down, and, passing the day by talking of many (things), he kept (him) occupied in conversation, and, by playing on his reed-pipe, he tries to conquer those watching eyes. He, however, fights to overcome gentle sleep, and, although sleep is admitted in some of his eyes, yet he stays awake in others. He even asks - for the reed-pipe had recently been discovered - by what procedure it had been invented.

Ll. 688-720.  Mercury tells the story of Syrinx.

Then, the god says, "On Arcadia's cold mountains, among the wood-nymphs of (Mount) Nonacris, a single nymph was the most celebrated; the nymphs called (her) Syrinx. She had often eluded both the satyrs and all those gods that inhabit the shadowy woods and the fruitful countryside. But she honoured the Ortygian goddess (i.e. Diana, born on the isle of Ortygia, another name for Delos) in her zeal for virginity. Dressed just like Diana, she deceived (the eye) and could be thought (to be) Latona's daughter, except that her bow was (made) of horn and the other's was of gold. Even so, she was deceptive. Pan sees her as she returns from Mount Lycaeus (i.e. a mountain in Arcadia, sacred to Pan), and with his head wreathed in sharp pine(-shoots) he says these words (to her)" - it was left to relate his words and (how) the nymph, spurning his entreaties, had fled through the wastes until she comes to the calm waters of the sandy Ladon (i.e. an Arcadian river). Here, when the river stopped her flight, she begged her watery sisters (i.e. the naiads) to change her, and Pan, when he thought that he had caught Syrinx, (found that) he was holding reeds from the marsh instead of the nymph's body. And, while he (stands) there sighing, the disturbing wind in the reeds let out a rarefied and plaintiff-like sound. Captivated by this new art, and the sweetness of its sound, the god said, "This way of talking to you is still left to me!" And so, unequal lengths of reed, joined together in a framework of wax, preserved the girl's name.

As he was about to say all these (things), Cyllenius (i.e. an epithet of Mercury, who was born on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia) saw that all his eyes had succumbed, and that his eyelids (were) closed in sleep. At once, he stops speaking and deepens his slumber, (by) caressing his drowsy eyelids with his magic wand. Without delay, he strikes at his nodding head with his sickle-shaped sword, (at the point) where it is adjoining his neck, and casts (it) all bloody down the rocks, and it stains the steep cliff with his blood. Argus, you lie dead, and the light which you possessed amid so many eyes is extinguished, and one night takes possession of a hundred eyes.

Ll. 721-745.  Io is returned to human form.

Saturnia takes them (i.e. Argus' eyes) and places (them) in the feathers of her own bird (i.e a peacock), and fills its tail with star-like jewels.

Straightway, she blazed with anger, nor did she defer the time (for action), and she set a horrifying Fury before the eyes and mind of 'that slut' from Argos, and buried hidden gad-flies in her breast, and terrified (her into being) a fugitive throughout the whole world. (You,) Nile, were left as the limit to her immense suffering. As soon as she reached him, she fell forwards on bended knees, and, with her neck bent back and (looking) upwards, (and) raising her face to the skies, and, amid groans and tears and a mournful lowing, she seemed to be reproaching Jupiter and begging for an end to her woes. Putting his arms around his wife's neck, he (i.e. Jupiter) pleads that there should, finally, be an end to this punishment, and says, "Set aside your fears; in the future, she will never be a cause of pain to you;" and he bids the Stygian pools hear this (n.b. The Styx was the principal river of the Underworld, and the gods invoked its name when swearing binding oaths). As the goddess (i.e. Juno) grows calm, she (i.e. Io) regains her former appearance and becomes what she was previously: the hairs leave her body, the horns disappear, the eye-balls grow smaller, the gaping mouth contracts, her shoulders and hands return, and the hooves disappear and turn into five nails: nothing of the form of an ox remains, except the whiteness. Happy with the functioning of her two feet, she stands erect, but she is afraid to speak, lest she lows like a heifer, and she timidly attempts some (long) neglected words.

Ll. 746-763.  Phaëthon's parentage.

Now she is worshipped (as) a most celebrated goddess by a crowd clad in linen; now, at last, Epaphus is believed to have been born (by her) from the seed of mighty Jupiter, and he holds temples throughout the cities jointly with his mother. Phaëthon, the child of the Sun, was equal to him in courage and in age. The grandson of Inachus (i.e. Epaphus) could not endure (it) when he once boasted proudly, and would not yield to him, that Phoebus was his father, and he says, "You are mad to believe everything your mother (says), and you are puffed up with the image of a false father." Phaëthon reddened, but, through shame, restrained his anger, and took Epaphus' taunts to his mother Clymene; and he says: "Mother, you may grieve all the more that I, that free, that bold (spirit), was silent. I am ashamed that such a reproach could be spoken and could not be refuted. But, if I am, in any way, of divine stock, you must produce proof of my high birth, and lay my claim to the heavens."

(So) he spoke, and threw his arms around his mother's neck, and begged (her), by his own life and and (that) of Merops (i.e. Clymene's husband), and (by) his sisters' marriages, to give him some tokens of his true parentage.

Ll. 764-778.  Phaëthon sets out for the Palace of the Sun. 

Clymene moved, perhaps, by Phaëthon's entreaties, or more by anger at the charge which had been made, stretched out both her arms to the sky, and, looking up at the light of the sun, she says, "By that brightness, marked out by those glittering rays, which both hears us and sees (us), I swear to you, my son, that you (are) the child of the Sun, that (being) which you see, and that (being) who governs the world. If I am telling lies, may he, himself, refuse to appear to me, and may this be the very last light (to reach) our eyes. There is no great difficulty for you to discover your father's home: if only your courage allows (it), go and inquire (about it) from him."

Phaëthon immediately darts forth, delighted after (hearing) these words of his mother, and he imagines the heavens in his mind, and crosses his own Ethiopian (lands) and the Indies, placed beneath the fire of the stars, and he comes, with enthusiasm, (to the lands where) his father rises (i.e. the East).


Last modified onSaturday, 07 April 2018 15:35
Tagged under :

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.