Scylla transformed to a rock
Now the Euboean dweller in great waves,
Glaucus, had left behind the crest of Aetna,
raised upward from a giant's head; and left
the Cyclops' fields, that never had been torn
by harrow or by plough and never were
indebted to the toil of oxen yoked;
left Zancle, also, and the opposite walls
of Rhegium, and the sea, abundant cause
of shipwreck, which confined with double shores
bounds the Ausonian and Sicilian lands.
All these behind him, Glaucus, swimming on
with his huge hands through those Tyrrhenian seas,
drew near the hills so rich in magic herbs
and halls of Circe, daughter of the Sun, --
halls filled with men in guise of animals.
After due salutations had been given --
received by her as kindly -- Glaucus said,
"You as a goddess, certainly should have
compassion upon me, a god; for you
alone (if I am worthy of it) can
relieve my passion. What the power of herbs
can be, Titania, none knows more than I,
for by their power I was myself transformed.
To make the cause of my strange madness known,
I have found Scylla on Italian shores,
directly opposite Messenian walls.
"It shames me to recount my promises,
entreaties, and caresses, and at last
rejection of my suit. If you have known
a power of incantation, I implore
you now repeat that incantation here,
with sacred lips -- If herbs have greater power,
use the tried power of herbs. But I would not
request a cure -- the healing of this wound.
Much better than an end of pain, let her
share, and feel with me my impassioned flame."
But Circe was more quick than any other
to burn with passion's flame. It may have been
her nature or it may have been the work
of Venus, angry at her tattling sire.
"You might do better," she replied, "to court
one who is willing, one who wants your love,
and feels a like desire. You did deserve
to win her love, yes, to be wooed yourself.
In fact you might be. If you give some hope,
you have my word, you shall indeed be wooed.
That you may have no doubt, and so retain
all confidence in your attraction's power --
behold! I am a goddess, and I am
the daughter also, of the radiant Sun!
And I who am so potent with my charms,
and I who am so potent with my herbs,
wish only to be yours. Despise her who
despises you, and her who is attached
to you repay with like attachment -- so
by one act offer each her just reward."
But Glaucus answered her attempt of love,
"The trees will sooner grow in ocean waves,
the sea-weed sooner grow on mountain tops,
than I shall change my love for graceful! Scylla."
The goddess in her jealous rage could not
and would not injure him, whom she still loved,
but turned her wrath upon the one preferred.
She bruised immediately the many herbs
most infamous for horrid juices, which,
when bruised, she mingled with most artful care
and incantations given by Hecate.
Then, clothed in azure vestments, she passed through
her troop of fawning savage animals,
and issued from the center of her hall.
Pacing from there to Rhegium, opposite
the dangerous rocks of Zancle, she at once
entered the tossed waves boiling up with tides:
on these as if she walked on the firm shore,
she set her feet and, hastening on dry shod,
she skimmed along the surface of the deep.
Not far away there was an inlet curved,
round as a bent bow, which was often used
by Scylla as a favorite retreat.
There, she withdrew from heat of sea and sky
when in the zenith blazed the unclouded sun
and cast the shortest shadows on the ground.
Circe infected it before that hour,
polluting it with monster-breeding drugs.
She sprinkled juices over it, distilled
from an obnoxious root, and thrice times nine
she muttered over it with magic lips,
her most mysterious charm involved in words
of strangest import and of dubious thought.
Scylla came there and waded in waist deep,
then saw her loins defiled with barking shapes.
Believing they could be no part of her,
she ran and tried to drive them back and feared
the boisterous canine jaws. But what she fled
she carried with her. And, feeling for her thighs,
her legs, and feet, she found Cerberian jaws
instead. She rises from a rage of dogs,
and shaggy backs encircle her shortened loins.
The lover Glaucus wept. He fled the embrace
of Circe and her hostile power of herbs
and magic spells. But Scylla did not leave
the place of her disaster; and, as soon
as she had opportunity, for hate
of Circe, she robbed Ulysses of his men.
She would have wrecked the Trojan ships, if she
had not been changed beforehand to a rock
which to this day reveals a craggy rim.
And even the rock awakes the sailors' dread.
The Cercopes transformed to apes
After the Trojan ships, pushed by their oars,
had safely passed by Scylla and the fierce
Charybdis, and with care had then approached
near the Ausonian shore, a roaring gale
bore them far southward to the Libyan coast.
And then Sidonian Dido, who was doomed
not calmly to endure the loss of her
loved Phrygian husband, graciously received
Aeneas to her home and her regard:
and on a pyre, erected with pretense
of holy rites, she fell upon the sword.
Deceived herself, she there deceived them all.
Aeneas, fleeing the new walls built on
that sandy shore, revisited the land
of Eryx and Acestes, his true friend.
There he performed a hallowed sacrifice
and paid due honor to his father's tomb.
And presently he loosened from that shore
the ships which Iris, Juno's minister,
had almost burned; and sailing, passed far off
the kingdom of the son of Hippotas,
in those hot regions smoking with the fumes
of burning sulphur, and he left behind
the rocky haunt of Achelous' daughters,
the Sirens. Then, when his good ship had lost
the pilot, he coasted near Inarime,
near Prochyta, and near the barren hill
which marks another island, Pithecusae,
an island named from strange inhabitants.
The father of the gods abhorred the frauds
and perjuries of the Cercopians
and for the crimes of that bad treacherous race,
transformed its men to ugly animals,
appearing unlike men, although like men.
He had contracted and had bent their limbs,
and flattened out their noses, bent back towards
their foreheads; he had furrowed every face
with wrinkles of old age, and made them live
in that spot, after he had covered all
their bodies with long yellow ugly hair.
Besides all that, he took away from them
the use of language and control of tongues,
so long inclined to dreadful perjury;
and left them always to complain of life
and their ill conduct in harsh jabbering.
The Sibyl becomes gray and decrepit
After Aeneas had passed by all those
and seen to his right hand the distant walls
guarding the city of Parthenope,
he passed on his left hand a mound,
grave of the tuneful son of Aeolus.
Landing on Cumae's marshy shore, he reached
a cavern, home of the long lived Sibylla,
and prayed that she would give him at the lake,
Avernus, access to his father's shade.
She raised her countenance, from gazing on
the ground, and with an inspiration given
to her by influence of the god, she said,
"Much you would have, O man of famous deeds,
whose courage is attested by the sword,
whose filial piety is proved by flame.
But, Trojan, have no fear. I grant your wish,
and with my guidance you shall look upon
the latest kingdom of the world, shall see
Elysian homes and your dear father's shade,
for virtue there is everywhere a way."
She spoke, and pointed out to him a branch
refulgent with bright gold, found in the woods
of Juno of Avernus, and commanded him
to pluck it from the stem. Aeneas did
what she advised him. Then he saw the wealth
of the dread Orcus, and he saw his own
ancestors, and beheld the aged ghost
of great Anchises. There he learned the laws
of that deep region, and what dangers must
be undergone by him in future wars.
Retracing with his weary steps the path
up to the light, he found relief from toil
in converse with the sage Cumaean guide.
While in thick dusk he trod the frightful way,
"Whether you are a deity," he said,
"Or human and most favored by the gods,
to me you always will appear divine.
I will confess, too, my existence here
is due to your kind aid, for by your will
I visited the dark abodes of death,
and I escaped the death which I beheld.
For this great service, when I shall emerge
into the sunlit air, I will erect
for you a temple and will burn for you
sweet incense kindled at the altar flame."
The prophetess looked on him and with sighs,
"I am no goddess," she replied, "nor is
it well to honor any mortal head
with tribute of the holy frankincense.
And, that you may not err through ignorance,
I tell you life eternal without end
was;offered to me, if I would but yield
virginity to Phoebus for his love.
And, while he hoped for this and in desire
offered to bribe me for my virtue, first
with gifts, he said, 'Maiden of Cumae choose
whatever you may wish, and you shall gain
all that you wish.' I pointed to a heap
of dust collected there, and foolishly
replied, 'As many birthdays must be given
to me as there are particles of sand.'
"For I forgot to wish them days of changeless youth.
He gave long life and offered youth besides,
if I would grant his wish. This I refused,
I live unwedded still. My happier time
has fled away, now comes with tottering step
infirm old age, which I shall long endure.
You find me ending seven long centuries,
and there remain for me, before my years
equal the number of those grains of sand,
three hundred harvests, three hundred vintages!
The time will come, when long increase of days
will so contract me from my present size
and so far waste away my limbs with age
that I shall dwindle to a trifling weight,
so trifling, it will never be believed
I once was loved and even pleased a god.
Perhaps, even Phoebus will not recognize me,
or will deny he ever bore me love.
But, though I change till eye would never know me,
my voice shall live, the fates will leave my voice."
Ulysses with Polyphemus and Circe
Sibylla with such words beguild their way
from Stygian realms up to the Euboean town.
Trojan Aeneas, after he had made
due sacrifice in Cumae, touched the shore
that had not yet been given his nurse's name.
There Macareus of Neritus had come,
companion of long tried Ulysses, there
he rested, weary of his lengthened toils.
He recognized one left in Aetna's cave,
greek Achaemenides, and, all amazed
to find him yet alive, he said to him,
"What chance, or what god, Achaemenides,
preserves you? Why is this barbarian ship
conveying you a Greek? What land is sought?"
No longer ragged in the clothes he wore
and his own master, wearing clothes not tacked
with sharp thorns, Achaemenides replied,
"Again may I see Polyphemus' jaws
out-streaming with their slaughtered human blood;
if my own home and Ithaca give more
delight to me than this barbarian bark,
or if I venerate Aeneas less
than my own father. If I should give my all,
it never could express my gratitude,
that I can speak and breath, and see the heavens
illuminated by the gleaming sun --
how can I be ungrateful and forget all this?
Because of him these limbs of mine were spared
the Cyclops' jaws; and, though I were even now
to leave the light of life, I should at worst
be buried in a tomb -- not in his maw.
"What were my feelings when (unless indeed
my terror had deprived me of all sense) left there,
I saw you making for the open sea?
I wished to shout aloud, but was afraid
it would betray me to the enemy.
The shoutings of Ulysses nearly caused
destruction of your ship and there I saw
the Cyclops, when he tore a crag away
and hurled the huge rock in the whirling waves;
I saw him also throw tremendous stones
with his gigantic arms. They flew afar,
as if impelled by catapults of war,
I was struck dumb with terror lest
the waves or stones might overwhelm the ship,
forgetting that I still was on the shore!
"But when your flight had saved you from that death
of cruelty, the Cyclops, roaring rage,
paced all about Mount Aetna, groping through
its forests with his outstretched arms. Deprived
of sight, he stumbled there against the rocks,
until he reached the sea; and stretching out
his gore stained arms into its waters there,
he cursed all of the Grecian race, and said,
'Oh! that some accident would carry back
Ulysses to me, or but one of his
companions; against whom my rage
might vent itself, whose joints my hand might tear
whose blood might drench my throat, whose living limbs
might quiver in my teeth. How trifling then,
how insignificant would be the loss,
of my sight which he took from me!'
of my sight which he took from me!' "All this
and more he said. A ghastly horror took
possession of me when I saw his face
and every feature streaming yet with blood,
his ruthless hands, and the vile open space
where his one eye had been, and his coarse limbs,
and his beard matted through with human blood.
"It seemed as if Death were before my eyes,
yet that was but the least part of my woe.
I seemed upon the point of being caught,
my flesh about to be the food of his.
Before my mind was fixed the time I saw
two bodies of my loved companions
dashed three or four times hard against the ground,
when he above them, like a lion, crouched,
devouring quickly in his hideous jaws,
their entrails and their flesh and their crushed bones,
white marrowed, and their mangled quivering limbs.
A trembling fear seized on me as I stood
pallid and without power to move from there,
while I recalled him chewing greedily,
and belching out his bloody banquet from
his huge mouth -- vomiting crushed pieces mixed
with phlegmy wine -- and I feared such a doom
in readiness, awaited wretched me.
"Most carefully concealed for many days,
trembling at every sound and fearing death,
although desiring death; I fed myself
on grass and acorns, mixed with leaves; alone
and destitute, despondent unto death,
awaiting my destruction I lost hope.
In that condition a long while, at last
I saw a ship not far off, and by signs
prayed for deliverance, as I ran in haste,
down to the shore. My prayers prevailed on them.
A Trojan ship took in and saved a Greek!
"And now, O dearest to me of all men,
tell me of your adventures, of your chief
and comrades, when you sailed out on the sea."
Macareus, Ulysses and Circe
Then Macareus told him of Aeolus,
the son of Hippotas, whose kingdom is
the Tuscan sea, whose prison holds the winds,
and how Ulysses had received the winds
tied in a bull's hide bag, an awesome gift,
how nine days with a favoring breeze they sailed
and saw afar their longed for native land.
How, as the tenth day dawned, the crew was moved
by envy and a lust for gold, which they
imagined hidden in that leathern bag
and so untied the thong which held the winds.
These, rushing out, had driven the vessel back
over the waves which they had safely passed,
back to the harbor of King Aeolus.
"From there," he said, "we sailed until we reached
the ancient city of Lamus, Laestrygon. --
Antiphates was reigning in that land,
and I was sent with two men of our troop,
ambassadors to see him. Two of us
escaped with difficulty, but the third
stained the accursed Lestrygonian's jaws
with his devoted blood. Antiphates
pursued us, calling out his murderous horde.
They came and, hurling stones and heavy beams,
they overwhelmed and sank both ships and men.
One ship escaped, on which Ulysses sailed.
"Grieving, lamenting for companions lost,
we finally arrived at that land which
you may discern far off, and, trust my word,
far off it should be seen -- I saw it near!
And oh most righteous Trojan, Venus' son,
Aeneas, whom I call no more a foe,
I warn you now: avoid the shores of Circe.
"We moored our ship beside that country too;
but, mindful of the dangers we had run
with Laestrygons and cruel Polyphemus,
refused to go ashore. Ulysses chose
some men by lot and told them to seek out
a roof which he had seen among the trees.
The lot took me, then staunch Polytes next,
Eurylochus, Elpenor fond of wine,
and eighteen more and brought us to the walls
of Circe's dwelling.
of Circe's dwelling. "As we drew near and stood
before the door, a thousand wolves rushed out
from woods near by, and with the wolves there ran
she bears and lionesses, dread to see.
And yet we had no cause to fear, for none
would harm us with the smallest scratch.
Why, they in friendship even wagged their tails
and fawned upon us, while we stood in doubt.
"Then handmaids took us in and led us on
through marble halls to the presence of their queen.
She, in a beautiful recess, sat on her throne,
clad richly in a shining purple robe,
and over it she wore a golden veil.
Nereids and nymphs, who never carded fleece
with motion of their fingers, nor drew out
a ductile thread, were setting potent herbs
in proper order and arranging them
in baskets -- a confusing wealth of flowers
were scattered among leaves of every hue:
and she prescribed the tasks they all performed.
"She knew the natural use of every leaf
and combinations of their virtues, when
mixed properly; and, giving them her close
attention, she examined every herb
as it was weighed. When she observed us there,
and had received our greetings and returned them,
she smiled, as if we should be well received.
At once she had her maidens bring a drink
of parched barley, of honey and strong wine,
and curds of milk. And in the nectarous draught
she added secretly her baleful drugs.
"We took the cups presented to us by
her sacred right hand; and, as soon as we,
so thirsty, quaffed them with our parching mouths,
that ruthless goddess with her outstretched wand
touched lightly the topmost hair upon our heads.
(Although I am ashamed, I tell you this)
stiff bristles quickly grew out over me,
and I could speak no more. Instead of words
I uttered hoarse murmurs and towards the ground
began to bend and gaze with all my face.
I felt my mouth take on a hardened skin
with a long crooked snout, and my neck swell
with muscles. With the very member which
a moment earlier had received the cup
I now made tracks in sand of the palace court.
Then with my friends, who suffered a like change
(charms have such power!) I was prisoned in a stye.
"We saw Eurylochus alone avoid
our swinish form, for he refused the cup.
If he had drained it, I should still remain
one of a bristly herd. Nor would his news
have made Ulysses sure of our disaster
and brought a swift avenger of our fate.
"Peace bearing Hermes gave him a white flower
from a black root, called Moly by the gods.
With this protection and the god's advice
he entered Circe's hall and, as she gave
the treacherous cup and with her magic wand
essayed to touch his hair, he drove her back
and terrified her with his quick drawn sword.
She gave her promise, and, right hands exchanged,
he was received unharmed into her couch,
where he required the bodies of his friends
awarded him, as his prized marriage gift.
"We then were sprinkled with more favored juice
of harmless plants, and smitten on the head
with the magic wand reversed. And new charms were
repeated, all conversely to the charms
which had degraded us. Then, as she sings,
more and yet more we raise ourselves erect,
the bristles fall off and the fissures leave
our cloven feet, our shoulders overcome
their lost shape and our arms become attached,
as they had been before. With tears of joy
we all embrace him, also weeping tears;
and we cling fondly to our chieftain's neck; --
not one of us could say a single word
till thus we had attested gratitude."
Picus and Canens
"The full space of a year detained us there,
and I, remaining that long stretch of time,
saw many things and heard as much besides:
and this among the many other things,
was told me secretly by one of the four
handmaidens of those rites. While Circe passed
her time from all apart except my chief,
she brought me to a white marble shape, a youth
who bore a woodpecker upon his head.
It stood erected in a hallowed place,
adorned with many wreaths. When I had asked
the statue's name and why he stood revered
in that most sacred temple, and what caused
that bird he carried on his head; she said: --
'Listen, Macareus, and learn from this tale too
the power of Circe, and weigh the knowledge well!'
"Picus, offspring of Saturn, was the king
of the Ausonian land, one very fond
of horses raised for war. The young man's form
was just what you now see, and had you known
him as he lived, you would not change a line.
His nature was as noble as his shape.
He could not yet have seen the steeds contend
four times in races held with each fifth year
at Grecian Elis. But his good looks had charmed
the dryads born on Latin hills, Naiads
would pine for him -- both goddesses of spring
and goddesses of fountains, pined for him,
and nymphs that live in streaming Albula,
Numicus, Anio's course, brief flowing Almo,
and rapid Nar and Farfarus, so cool
in its delightful shades; all these and those
which haunt the forest lake of Scythian
Diana and the other nearby lakes.
" 'But, heedless of all these, he loved a nymph
whom on the hill, called Palatine, 'tis said,
Venilia bore to Janus double faced.
When she had reached the age of marriage, she
was given to Picus Laurentine, preferred
by her above all others -- wonderful
indeed her beauty, but more wonderful
her skill in singing, from which art they called
her Canens. The fascination of her voice
would move the woods and rocks and tame wild beasts,
and stay long rivers, and it even detained
the wandering bird. Once, while she sang a lay
with high, clear voice, Picus on his keen horse
rode in Laurentian fields to hunt the boar,
two spears in his left hand, his purple cloak
fastened with gold. The daughter of the Sun
wandered in woods near by to find new herbs
growing on fertile hills, for she had left
Circaean fields called so from her own name.
" 'From a concealing thicket she observed
the youth with wonder. All the gathered herbs
dropped from her hands, forgotten, to the ground
and a hot fever-flame seemed to pervade
her marrow. When she could collect her thought
she wanted to confess her great desire,
but the swift horse and his surrounding guards
prevented her approach. "Still you shall not
escape me," she declared, "although you may
be borne on winds, if I but know myself,
and if some potency in herbs remains,
and if my art of charms does not deceive."
" 'Such were her;thoughts, and then she formed
an image of a bodiless wild swine
and let it cross the trail before the king
and rush into a woodland dense with trees,
which fallen trunks made pathless for his horse.
Picus at once, unconscious of all harm,
followed the phantom-prey and, hastily
quitting the reeking back of his good steed,
he wandered in pursuit of a vain hope,
on foot through that deep wood. She seized the chance
and by her incantation called strange gods
with a strange charm, which had the power to hide
the white moon's features and draw thirsty clouds
about her father's head. The changing sky
then lowered more black at each repeated tone
of incantation, and the ground exhaled
its vapours, while his people wandered there
along the darkened paths until no guard
was near to aid the imperiled king.
" 'Having now gained an opportunity
and place, she said, " O, youth most beautiful!
By those fine eyes, which captivated mine,
and by that graceful person, which brings me,
even me, a goddess, suppliant to you,
have pity on my passion; let the Sun,
who looks on all things, be your father-in-law;
do not despise Circe, the Titaness."
"But fiercely he repelled her and her prayer,
"Whoever you may be, you are not mine,"
he said. "Another lady has my heart.
I pray that for a lengthening space of time
she may so hold me. I will not pollute
conjugal ties with the unhallowed loves
of any stranger, while the Fates preserve
to me the child of Janus, my dear Canens."
"'Titan's daughter, when many pleas had failed,
said angrily, "You shall not leave me with
impunity, and you shall not return
to Canens; and by your experience
you shall now learn what can be done by her
so slighted -- what a woman deep in love
can do -- and Circe is that slighted love."
" 'Then twice she turned herself to face the west
and twice to face the East; and three times then
she touched the young man with her wand,
and sang three incantations. Picus fled,
but, marvelling at his unaccustomed speed,
he saw new wings, that spread on either side
and bore him onward. Angry at the thought
of transformation -- all so suddenly
added a strange bird to the Latian woods,
he struck the wild oaks with his hard new beak,
and in his rage inflicted many wounds
on the long waving branches his wings took
the purple of his robe. The piece of gold
which he had used so nicely in his robe
was changed to golden feathers, and his neck
was rich as yellow gold. Nothing remained
of Picus as he was except the name.
" 'While all this happened his attendants called
on Picus often but in vain throughout
surrounding fields, and finding not a trace
of their young king, at length by chance they met
with Circe, who had cleared the darkened air
and let the clouds disperse before the wind
and clear rays of the sun. Then with good cause
they blamed her, they demanded the return
of their lost king, and with their hunting spears
they threatened her. She, sprinkling baleful drugs
and poison juices over them, invoked
the aid of Night and all the gods of Night
from Erebus and Chaos, and desired
the aid of Hecat with long, wailing cries.
" 'Most wonderful to tell, the forests leaped
from fixed localities and the torn soil
uttered deep groans, the trees surrounding changed
from life-green to sick pallor, and the grass
was moistened with besprinkling drops of blood;
the stones sent forth harsh longings, unknown dogs
barked loudly, and the ground became a mass
of filthy snakes, and unsubstantial hosts
of the departed flitted without sound.
The men all quaked appalled. With magic rod
she touched their faces, pale and all amazed,
and at her touch the youths took on strange forms
of wild animals. None kept his proper shape.
" 'The setting sun is resting low upon
the far Tartessian shores, and now in vain
her husband is expected by the eyes
of longing Canens. Her slaves and people run
about through all the forest, holding lights
to meet him. Nor is it enough for that
dear nymph to weep and frenzied tear her hair
and beat her breast -- she did all that and more.
Distracted she rushed forth and wandered through
the Latin fields. Six nights, six brightening dawns
found her quite unrefreshed with food or sleep
wandering at random over hill and dale.
The Tiber saw her last, with grief and toil
wearied and lying on his widespread bank.
In tears she poured out words with a faint voice,
lamenting her sad woe, as when the swan
about to die sings a funereal dirge.
Melting with grief at last she pined away;
her flesh, her bones, her marrow liquified
and vanished by degrees as formless air
and yet the story lingers near that place,
fitly named Canens by old-time Camenae!.'
"Such things I heard and saw through a long year.
Sluggish, inactive through our idleness,
we were all ordered to embark again
out on the deep, again to set our sails.
The Titaness explained the doubtful paths,
the great extent and peril, of wild seas.
I was alarmed, I will confess to you;
so, having reached these shores, I have remained."
Diomed's followers transformed
Macareus finished. And Aeneas' nurse,
now buried in a marble urn, had this
brief, strange inscription on her tomb: --
"My foster-child of proven piety,
burned me Caieta here: although
I was at first preserved from Argive fire,
I later burned with fire which was my due."
The cable loosened from the grassy bank,
they steered a course which kept them well away
from ill famed Circe's wiles and from her home
and sought the groves where Tiber dark with shade,
breaks with his yellow sands into the sea.
Aeneas then fell heir to the home and won
the daughter of Latinus, Faunus' son,
not without war. A people very fierce
made war, and Turnus, their young chief,
indignant fought to hold a promised bride.
With Latium all Etruria was embroiled,
a victory hard to win was sought through war.
By foreign aid each side got further strength:
the camp of Rutuli abounds in men,
and many throng the opposing camp of Troy.
Aeneas did not find Evander's home
in vain. But Venulus with no success
came to the realm of exiled Diomed.
That hero had marked out his mighty walls
with favor of Iapygian Daunus and
held fields that came to him as marriage dower.
When Venulus, by Turnus' orders, made
request for aid, the Aetolian hero said
that he was poor in men: he did not wish
to risk in battle himself nor any troops
belonging to his father-in-law and had
no troops of his that he could arm for battle.
"Lest you should think I feign," he then went on
"Although my grief must be renewed because
of bitter recollections of the past,
I will endure recital now to you: --
"After the lofty Ilion was burnt
and Pergama had fed the Grecian flames,
and Ajax, the Narycian hero, had
brought from a virgin, for a virgin wronged,
the punishment which he alone deserved
on our whole expedition, we were then
dispersed and driven by violent winds
over the hostile seas; and we, the Greeks,
had to endure in darkness, lightning, rain,
the wrath both of the heavens and of the sea,
and Caphareus, the climax of our woe.
Not to detain you by relating such
unhappy things in order, Greece might then
have seemed to merit even Priam's tears.
"Although well armed Minerva's care preserved
me then and brought me safe through rocks and waves,
from my native Argos I was driven again,
for outraged Venus took her full revenge
remembering still that wound of long ago;
and I endured such hardships on the deep,
and hazards amid armies on the shore,
that often I called those happy whom the storm --
an ill that came on all, or Cephareus had drowned.
I even wished I had been one of them.
"My best companions having now endured
utmost extremities in wars and seas,
lost courage and demanded a swift end
of our long wandering. Acmon, by nature hot,
and much embittered by misfortune, said,
'What now remains for you, my friends,
that patience can endure? What can be done
by Venus (if she wants to) more than she
already has done? While we have a dread
of greater evils, reason will be found
for patience; but, when fortune brings her worst,
we scorn and trample fear beneath our feet.
Upon the height of woe, why should we care?
Let Venus listen, let her hate Diomed
more than all others -- as indeed she does,
we all despise her hate. At a great price
we have bought and won the right to such contempt!'
"With language of this kind Pleuronian Acmon.
Provoking Venus further than before,
revived her former anger. His fierce words
were then approved of by a few, while we
the greater number of his real friends,
rebuked the words of Acmon: and while he
prepared to answer us, his voice, and even
the passage of his voice, were both at once
diminished, his hair changed to feathers, while
his neck took a new form. His breast and back
covered themselves with down, and both his arms
grew longer feathers, and his elbows curved
into light wings, much of each foot was changed
to long toes, and his mouth grew still and hard
with pointed horn.
with pointed horn. "Amazed at his swift change
were Lycus, Abas, Nycteus and Rhexenor.
And, while they stared, they took his feathered shape.
The larger portion of my company
flew from their boat, resounding all around
our oars with flapping of new-fashioned wings.
If you should ask the form of these strange birds
they were like snowy swans, though not the same.
"Now as Iapygian Daunus' son-in-law
I scarcely hold this town and arid fields
with my small remnant of trustworthy men."
Metamorphoses related to Aeneas
So Diomed made answer. Venulus
soon after left the Calydonian realms,
Peucetian bays, and the Messapian fields.
Among those fields he saw a darkened cave
in woods and waving reeds. The halfgoat Pan
now lives there, but in older time the nymphs
possessed it. An Apulian shepherd scared
them from that spot. At first he terrified
them with a sudden fear, but soon in scorn,
as they considered what the intruder was,
they danced before him, moving feet to time.
The shepherd clown abused them, capering,
grotesquely imitating graceful steps,
and railed at them with coarse and foolish words.
He was not silent till a tree's new bark
had closed his mouth for now he is a tree.
And the wild olive's fruit took bitterness
from him. It has the tartness of his tongue.
When the ambassadors returned and told
their tale about Aetolian arms refused,
the bold Rutulians carried on the war
without those forces, and much blood was shed.
Then Turnus with a greedy torch drew near
the Trojan fleet, well built of close-knit pine.
What had escaped the waves, now feared the flame.
Soon Mulciber was burning pitch and wax
and other food of fire, up the high masts
he ran and fed upon the tight furled sails,
and even the benches in the curved hull smoked.
When the holy mother of the gods, recalling
how those same pines were felled on Ida's crest,
filled the wind with a sound of cymbals clashed
and trill of boxwood flutes. Borne through light air
by her famed lion yoke, she came and said,
"In vain you cast the fire with impious hand,
Turnus, for I will save this burning fleet.
I will not let the greedy flame consume
trees that were part and members of my grove."
It thundered while she spoke, and heavy clouds,
following the thunder, brought a storm
of bounding hail. The Astraean brothers filled
both air and swollen waters with their rage
and rushed to battle. With the aid of one
of them the kindly mother broke the ropes
which held the Phrygian ships, and, drawing all
prow foremost, plunged them underneath the wave.
Softening quickly in the waters quiet depth,
their wood was changed to flesh, the curving prows
were metamorphosed into human heads,
blades of the oars made feet, the looms were changed
to swimming legs, the sides turned human flanks,
each keel below the middle of a ship
transformed became a spine, the cordage changed
to soft hair, and the sail yards changed to arms.
The azure color of the ships remained.
As sea-nymphs in the water they began
to agitate with virgin sports the waves,
which they had always dreaded. Natives of
the rugged mountains they are now so changed,
they swim and dwell in the soft flowing sea,
with every influence of birth forgot.
Never forgetful of the myriad risks
they have endured among the boisterous waves,
they often give a helping hand to ships
tossed in the power of storms -- unless, of course,
the ship might carry men of Grecian race.
Never forgetful of the Phrygians and
catastrophe, their hatred was so great
of all Pelasgians, that they looked with joy
upon the fragments of Ulysses' ship;
and were delighted when they saw the ship
of King Alcinous growing hard upon
the breakers, as its wood was turned to stone.
Many were hopeful that a fleet which had
received life strangely in the forms of nymphs
would cause the chieftain of the Rutuli
to feel such awe that he would end their strife.
But he continued fighting, and each side
had its own gods, and each had courage too,
which often can be as potent as the gods.
Now they forgot the kingdom as a dower,
forgot the scepter of a father-in-law,
and even forgot the pure Lavinia:
their one thought was to conquer, and they waged
war to prevent the shame of a defeat.
But Venus finally beheld the arms
of her victorious son; for Turnus fell,
and Ardea fell, a town which, while he lived,
was counted strong. The Trojan swords
destroyed it. -- All its houses burned and sank
down in the heated embers: and a bird
not known before that time, flew upward from
a wrecked heap, beating the dead ashes with
its flapping wings. The voice, the lean pale look,
the sorrows of a captured city, even
the name of the ruined city, all these things
remain in that bird -- Ardea's fallen walls
are beaten in lamentation by his wings.
The merit of Aeneas now had moved
the gods. Even Juno stayed her lasting hate,
when, with the state of young Iulus safe,
the hero son of Cytherea was
prepared for heaven. In a council of the gods
Venus arose, embraced her father's neck,
and said: " My father, ever kind to me,
I do beseech your kind indulgence now;
grant, dearest, to Aeneas, my own son
and also your own grandson, grant to him
a godhead power, although of lowest class,
sufficient if but granted. It is enough
to have looked once upon the unlovely realm.
And once to have gone across the Stygian streams."
The gods assented, and the queen of Jove
nodded consent with calm, approving face.
The father said, "You well deserve the gift,
both you who ask it, and the one for whom
you ask it: what you most desire is yours,
my daughter." He decreed, and she rejoiced
and thanked her parent. Borne by harnessed doves
over and through the light air, she arrived
safe on Laurentine shores: Numicius there
winds through his tall reeds to the neighboring sea
the waters of his stream: and there she willed
Numicius should wash perfectly away
from her Aeneas every part that might
be subject unto death; and bear it far
with quiet current into Neptune's realm.
The horned Numicius satisfied the will
of Venus; and with flowing waters washed
from her Aeneas every mortal part,
and sprinkled him, so that the essential part
of immortality remained alone,
and she anointed him, thus purified,
with heavenly essence, and she touched his face
with sweetest nectar and ambrosia mixt,
thereby transforming him into a god.
The throng of the Quirini later named
the new god Indiges, and honored him.
Vertumnus and Pomona
Under the scepter of Ascanius
the Latin state, transferred, was Alban too.
Silvius ruled after him. Latinus then,
wearing the crown, brought back an older name.
Illustrious Alba followed after him,
Epytus next in time, and Capys next,
then Capetus. And reigning after them
King Tiberinus followed. He was drowned
in waves of that Etrurian stream, to which
he gave his name. His sons were Remulus
and fierce Acrota -- each in turn was king.
The elder, Remulus, would imitate
the lightning, and he perished by a flash
of lightning. Then Acrota, not so rash,
succeeded to his brother, and he left
his scepter to the valiant Aventinus,
hill-buried on the very mountain which
he ruled upon and which received his name.
And Proca ruled then -- on the Palatine.
Under this king, Pomona lived, and none
of all the Latin hamadryads could
attend her garden with more skill, and none
was more attentive to the fruitful trees,
because of them her name was given to her.
She cared not for the forests or the streams,
but loved the country and the boughs that bear
delicious fruit. Her right hand never felt
a javelin's weight, always she loved to hold
a sharp curved pruning-knife with which she would
at one time crop too largely growing shoots,
or at another time reduce the branch
that straggled; at another time she would
engraft a sucker in divided bark,
and so find nourishment for some young, strange
nursling. She never suffered them to thirst,
for she would water every winding thread
of twisting roots with freshly flowing streams.
All this was her delight, her chief pursuit;
she never felt the least desire of love;
but fearful of some rustic's violence,
she had her orchard closed within a wall;
and both forbade and fled the approach of males.
What did not satyrs do to gain her love,
a youthful crew expert at every dance?
And also Pans their brows wreathed with the pine,
Silenus too, more youthful than his years,
and that god who is ever scaring thieves
with pruning-hook or limb -- what did they not
to gain her love? And though Vertumnus did
exceed them in his love, yet he was not
more fortunate than they.
more fortunate than they. How often disguised
as a rough reaper he brought her barley ears --
truly he seemed a reaper to the life!
Often he came, his temples wreathed with hay,
as if he had been tossing new mown grass.
He often held a whip in his tough hand,
you could have sworn he had a moment before
unyoked his wearied oxen. When he had
a pruning-knife, he seemed to rear fine fruit
in orchard trees or in the well kept vines.
When he came with a ladder, you would think
he must be gathering fruit. Sometimes he was
a soldier with a sword -- a fisherman,
the rod held in his hand. -- In fact by means
of many shapes he often had obtained
access to her and joyed in seeing her beauty.
At length he had his brows bound with a cap
of color, and then leaning on a stick,
with white hair round his temples, he assumed
the shape of an old woman. Entering so
the cultivated garden, he admired
the fruit and said, "But you are so much lovelier!"
And, while he praised her, gave some kisses too,
such as no real beldame ever gave.
The bent old creature then sat on the grass.
Gazing at branches weighed down with their fruit
of autumn. Opposite to them there was
an elm-tree beautiful with shining grapes;
and, after he had praised it with the vine
embracing it, he said,
embracing it, he said, "But only think,
if this trunk stood unwedded to this vine,
it would have nothing to attract our hearts
beyond its leaves, and this delightful vine,
united to the elm tree finds its rest;
but, if not so joined to it, would fall down,
prostrate upon the ground. And yet you find
no warning in the example of this tree.
You have avoided marriage, with no wish
to be united -- I must wish that you
would change and soon desire it. Helen would
not have so many suitors for her hand, nor she
who caused the battles of the Lapithae,
nor would the wife of timid, and not bold,
Ulysses. Even now, while you avoid
those who are courting you, and while you turn
in your disgust, a thousand suitors want
to marry you -- the demigods and gods,
and deities of Alba's mountain-tops.
"But you, if you are wise, and wish to make
a good match, listen patiently to me,
an old, old woman (I love you much more
than all of them, more than you dream or think).
Despise all common persons, and choose now
Vertumnus as the partner of your couch,
and you may take me as a surety for him.
He is not better known even to himself,
than he is known to me. And he is not
now wandering everywhere, from here to there
throughout the world. He always will frequent
the places near here; and he does not, like
so many of your wooers, fall in love
with her he happens to have seen the last.
You are his first and last love, and to you
alone will he devote his life. Besides
all -- he is young and has a natural gift
of grace, so that he can most readily
transform himself to any wanted shape,
and will become whatever you may wish --
even though you ask him things unseen before.
"And only think, have you not the same tastes?
Will he not be the first to welcome fruits
which are your great delight? And does he not
hold your gifts safely in his glad right hand?
But now he does not long for any fruit
plucked from the tree, and has no thought of herbs
with pleasant juices that the garden gives;
he cannot think of anything but you.
Have pity on his passion, and believe
that he who woos you is here and he pleads
with my lips.
with my lips. "You should not forget to fear
avenging deities, and the Idalian,
who hate all cruel hearts, and also dread
the fierce revenge of her of Rhamnus-Land.
And that you may stand more in awe of them,
(old age has given me opportunities
of knowing many things) I will relate
some happenings known in Cyprus, by which you
may be persuaded and relent with ease.
"Iphis, born of a humble family,
had seen the famed Anaxarete, who
was of the race of ancient Teucer. -- He
had seen her and felt fire inflame his bones.
Struggling a long time, he could not subdue
his passion by his reason, so he came
a suppliant to her doors. And having now
confessed his ardent passion to her nurse,
besought her by the hopes reposed in her
by the loved girl, not to give him a cold heart
and at another time, with fair words given
to each of many servants he besought
their kindest interest with an anxious voice.
He often gave them coaxing words engraved
on tablets of soft wax; and sometimes he
would fasten garlands, wet with dew of tears,
upon the door-posts; and he often laid
his tender side nightlong on the hard threshold,
sadly reproaching the obdurate bolt.
"Deafer than the deep sea that rises high
when the rainy Constellation of the Kids
is setting; harder than the iron which
the fire of Noricum refines; more hard
than rock which in its native state is fixed
firm rooted; she despised and laughed at him,
and, adding to her cruel deeds and pride,
she boasted and deprived him of all hope.
"Iphis, unable to endure such pain prolonged,
spoke these, his final words, before her door:
'Anaxarete, you have conquered me,
and you shall have no more annoyances
to bear from me. Be joyful and prepare
your triumph, and invoke god Paean, crown
yourself with shining laurel. You are now
my conqueror, and I resigned will die.
Woman of iron, rejoice in victory!
"At least, you will commend me for one thing,
one point in which I must please even you,
and cause you to confess my right of praise.
Remember that my star crossed love for you
died only with the last breath of my life.
And now in one short moment I shall be
deprived a twofold light; and no report
will come to you, no messenger of death.
But doubt not, I will come to you so that
I can be seen in person, and you may
then satiate your cruel eyesight with
my lifeless body. If, you gods above!
You have some knowledge of our mortal ways
remember me, for now my tongue can pray
no longer. Let me be renowned in times
far distant and give all those hours to Fame
which you have taken from my life on earth.'
"Then to the doorpost which he often had
adorned with floral wreaths he lifted up
his swimming eyes and both his pallid arms,
and, when he had fastened over the capital
a rope that held a dangling noose, he said, --
"Are these the garlands that delight your heart?
You cruel and unnatural woman?" -- Then,
thrust in his head, turning even then towards her,
and hung a hapless weight with broken neck.
"The door, struck by the motion of his feet
as they were quivering, seemed to utter sounds
of groaning, and, when it flew open, showed
the sad sight. All the servants cried aloud,
and after they had tried in vain to save him,
carried him from there to his mother's house,
(to her because his father was then dead).
"She held him to her bosom and embraced
the cold limbs of her dead child. After she
had uttered words so natural to the grief
of wretched mothers -- after she had done
what wretched mothers do at such sad times,
she led a tearful funeral through the streets,
the pale corpse following high upon the bier,
on to a pyre laid in the central square.
By chance, Anaxarete's house was near
the way through which the mournful funeral
was going with the corpse, and the sad sound
of wailing reached the ears of that proud girl --
hardhearted, and already goaded on
by an avenging god. Moved by the sound,
she said; "Let me observe their sniveling rites."
And she ascended to an upper room,
provided with wide windows. Scarcely had
she looked at Iphis, laid out on the bier,
when her eyes stiffened, and she turned all white,
as warm blood left her body. She tried then
to turn back from the window, but she stood
transfixed there. She then tried to turn her face
away from that sad sight, but could not move;
and by degrees the stone, which always had
existed, petrified in her cold breast,
and took possession of her heart and limbs.
"This is not fiction, and that you may know,
Salamis keeps that statue safe today,
formed of the virgin and has also built
a temple called, 'Venus the watchful Goddess.'
Warned by her fate, O sweet nymph, lay aside
prolonged disdain, and cheerfully unite
yourself to one who loves you. Then may frost
of springtime never nip your fruit in bud,
nor rude winds strike the blossom."
nor rude winds strike the blossom." When the god,
fitted for every shape, had said these words in vain,
he laid the old woman's form aside and was
again a youth. On her he seemed to blaze,
as when the full light of the brilliant Sun,
after it has dispelled opposing clouds,
has shone forth with not one to intercept.
He purposed violence, but there was then
no need of force. The lovely nymph was charmed,
was captivated by the god's bright form
and felt a passion answering to his love.
Tales about Romulus
At Proca's death unjust Amulius
seized with his troops the whole Ausonian wealth.
And yet old Numitor, obtaining aid
from his two grandsons, won the land again
which he had lost; and on the festival
of Pales were the city walls begun.
King Tatius with his Sabines went to war;
Tarpeia, who betrayed the citadel,
died justly underneath the weight of arms.
Then troops from Cures crept, like silent wolves,
without a word toward men subdued by sleep
and tried the gates that Ilia's son had barred.
Then Saturn's daughter opened wide a gate,
turning the silent hinge. Venus alone
perceived the bars of that gate falling down.
She surely would have closed it, were it not
impossible for any deity
to countervail the acts of other gods.
The Naiads of Ausonia occupied
a spring that welled up close to Janus' fane.
To them she prayed for aid. The fountain-nymphs
could not resist the prayer of Venus, when
she made her worthy plea and they released
all waters under ground. Till then the path
by Janus' fane was open, never yet had floods
risen to impede the way. But now they laid
hot sulphur of a faint blue light beneath
the streaming fountain and with care applied
fire to the hallowed ways with smoking pitch.
By these and many other violent means
hot vapors penetrated to the source
of the good fountain. -- Only think of it!
Those waters which had rivalled the cold Alps,
now rivalled with their heat the flames themselves!
And, while each gate post steamed with boiling spray,
the gate, which had been opened (but in vain)
to hardy Sabines just outside, was made
impassable by the heated fountain's flood,
till Roman soldiers had regained their arms.
After brave Romulus had led them forth
and covered Roman ground with Sabines dead
and its own people; and the accursed sword
shed blood of father-in-law and son-in-law,
with peace they chose at last to end the war,
rather than fight on to the bitter end:
Tatius and Romulus divide the throne.
Tatius had fallen, and you, O Romulus,
were giving laws to peoples now made one,
when Mars put off his helmet and addressed
the father of gods and men in words like these:
"The time has come, for now the Roman state
has been established on a strong foundation
and no more must rely on one man's strength
the time has come for you to give the prize,
promised to me and your deserving grandson,
to raise him from the earth and grant him here
a fitting place in heaven. One day you said
to me before a council of the gods,
(for I recall now with a grateful mind
how I took note of your most gracious speech)
'Him you shall lift up to the blue of heaven.'
Now let all know the meaning of your words!"
The god all-powerful nodded his assent,
and he obscured the air with heavy clouds
and on a trembling world he sent below
harsh thunder and bright lightning. Mars at once
perceived it was a signal plainly given
for promised change -- so, leaning on a spear,
he mounted boldly into his chariot,
and over bloodstained yoke and eager steeds
he swung and cracked the loud-resounding lash.
Descending through steep air, he halted on
the wooded summit of the Palatine
and there, while Ilia's son was giving laws --
needing no pomp and circumstance of kings,
Mars caught him up. His mortal flesh dissolved
into thin air, as when a ball of lead
shot up from a broad sling melts all away
and soon is lost in heaven. A nobler shape
was given him, one more fitted to adorn
rich couches in high heaven, the shape divine
of Quirinus clad in the trabea.
His queen, Hersilia, wept continually,
regarding him as lost, till regal Juno
commanded Iris to glide down along
her curving bow and bring to her these words:
"O matron, glory of the Latin race
and of the Sabines, worthy to have been
the consort chosen by so great a man
and now to be his partner as the god
Quirinus, weep no more. If you desire
to see your husband, let me guide you up
to a grove that crowns the hill of Quirinus,
shading a temple of the Roman king."
Iris obeyed her will, and, gliding down
to earth along her tinted bow, conveyed
the message to Hersilia; who replied,
with modest look and hardly lifted eye,
"Goddess (although it is not in my power
to say your name, I am quite certain you
must be a goddess), lead me, O lead me
until you show to me the hallowed form
of my beloved husband. If the Fates
will but permit me once again to see
his features, I will say I have won heaven."
At once Hersilia and the virgin child
of Thaumas, went together up the hill
of Romulus. Descending through thin air
there came a star, and then Hersilia
her tresses glowing fiery in the light,
rose with that star, as it returned through air.
And her the founder of the Roman state
received with dear, familiar hands. He changed
her old time form and with the form her name.
He called her Hora and let her become
a goddess, now the mate of Quirinus.