Perseus:bib:oclc,24965574, Ovid. Metamorphoses. Brookes More. Boston. Cornhill Publishing Co. 1922.

  1. To him the hero, who proclaimed himself
  2. a favored son of Neptune, answered now;
  3. “Declare the reason of your heavy sighs,
  4. and how your horn was broken?” And at once
  5. the Calydonian River-God replied,
  6. binding with reeds his unadorned rough locks:
  7. “It is a mournful task you have required,
  8. for who can wish to tell his own disgrace?
  9. But truly I shall speak without disguise,
  10. for my defeat, if rightly understood,
  11. should be my glory.—Even to have fought
  12. in battle with a hero of such might,
  13. affords me consolation.
  14. “Deianira
  15. (you may have heard some tales of her) was once
  16. the envied hope of many. She was then
  17. a lovely virgin.—I, among the rest
  18. who loved this maiden, entered the fair home
  19. of her great father Oeneus, and I said;
  20. “ ‘Consider all my claims, Parthaon's son,
  21. for I am come to plead your daughter's cause
  22. and mine—So you may make me son-in-law.,—’
  23. no sooner was it said, than Hercules
  24. in such words also claimed the virgin's hand:
  25. all others quickly yielded to our claims.
  26. “He boasted his descent from Jupiter;
  27. the glory of his labors and great deeds
  28. performed at his unjust stepmother's wish.
  29. “But as he was not then a God, it seemed
  30. disgraceful if my state should yield my right;
  31. so I contended with these haughty words,
  32. ‘Why should this alien of a foreign land,
  33. contending for your daughter, match himself
  34. to me! king of the waters in this realm!
  35. For as I wind around, across your lands,
  36. I must be of your people, and a part
  37. of your great state. Oh, let it not be said,
  38. because the jealous Juno had no thought
  39. to punish me by labors, my descent
  40. is not so regal! This tremendous boast,
  41. that you, Alcmena's son, are sprung from Jove,
  42. falls at the touch of truth;—or it reveals
  43. the shame of a weak mother, who so gained
  44. your doubtful glory of descent from Heaven!
  45. Prove your descent from Jupiter is false,
  46. or else confess you are the son of shame!’
  47. “But Hercules, unable to control
  48. the flame of his great wrath, scowled as I spoke.
  49. He briefly answered me, ‘My hand excels
  50. my tongue; let me now overcome in fight,
  51. and I may suffer your offence of words.’
  52. “Full of unvented rage he rushed on me,
  53. but firm I stood, ashamed to yield a foot—
  54. I had so largely boasted, no retreat was left,
  55. and so I doffed my green robe—Striking guard,
  56. with clenched hands doubled at my breast,
  57. I stood my ground. He scooped up in his hand
  58. fine, yellow dust; and tossed it on the air
  59. so that the tawny powder sprinkled us;
  60. quick-shifting then he sought to strike my neck,
  61. or feint at my quick-moving legs, and turn
  62. swift moving to attack me at all points.
  63. But as a huge cliff in the sea remains
  64. unmoved, unshaken by the sounding waves,
  65. so my great size, against his vain attacks,
  66. defended me securely—Back we went;
  67. retiring for a space; then rushed again
  68. together, furious, and with foot to foot,
  69. determined not to yield, defiant stood,
  70. till, forward-bending from my waist and hips,
  71. I pressed my forehead against his and locked
  72. his fingers into mine: so, have I seen
  73. two strong bulls rush in combat for the good
  74. of some smooth heifer in the pasture—while
  75. the herd a-tremble and uncertain, wait;
  76. ready to give allegiance to the one
  77. most worthy of dominion.
  78. “Thrice in vain
  79. Hercules strove to push my breast from his,
  80. but I pressed ever closer—till, the fourth
  81. attempt succeeding, he unloosed my grip,
  82. and breaking from my circling arms drew back,
  83. and struck me such a buffet with his hand,
  84. it twisted me about, and instantly
  85. he clung with all his weight upon my back—
  86. “Believe me I have not suppressed the truth.
  87. Nor shall I try to gain applause not due:
  88. I seemed to bear a mountain on my back. —
  89. straining and dripping sweat, I broke his hold,—
  90. with great exertion I unlocked his grip.
  91. He pressed upon me, as I strained for breath,
  92. preventing a renewal of my strength,
  93. and seized upon my neck. Then at the last,
  94. my bent knee went down on the gritty earth,
  95. I bit the sand. So, worsted in my strength,
  96. I sought diversion by an artifice,
  97. and changed me to a serpent.—I then slipped
  98. from his tight clutches my great length, and coiled
  99. my body now transformed to snaky folds—
  100. hissing I darted my divided tongue.
  101. “But Hercules, Alcides, only laughed
  102. and in derision of my scheming, said,
  103. ‘It was the pastime of my cradle days
  104. to strangle better snakes than you—and though
  105. your great length may excel all of your kind,
  106. how small a part of that Lernaean snake
  107. would you—one serpent be? It grew from wounds
  108. I gave (at first it had one hundred heads)
  109. and every time I severed one head from
  110. its neck two grew there in the place of one,
  111. by which its strength increased. This creature then
  112. outbranching with strong serpents, sprung from death
  113. and thriving on destruction, I destroyed.—
  114. What do you think will then become of you,
  115. disguised so in deceitful serpent-form,
  116. wielding a borrowed weapon not your own
  117. “And after he had ridiculed me thus,
  118. he gouged his fingers underneath my jaws,
  119. so that my throat was tortured, as if squeezed
  120. with forceps, while I struggled in his grip.
  121. “Twice was I vanquished, there remained to me
  122. a third form so again I changed to seem
  123. a savage bull, and with my limbs renewed
  124. in that form fought once more. He threw his arms
  125. about the left side of my ponderous neck,
  126. and dragging on me followed as I ran.
  127. He seized on my hard horns, and, tugging turned
  128. and twisted me, until he fastened them
  129. firm in the surface of the earth; and pushed
  130. me, helpless, to the shifting sand beneath.
  131. Not yet content he laid his fierce right hand
  132. on my tough horn, and broke and tore it from
  133. my mutilated head.—This horn, now heaped
  134. with fruits delicious and sweet-smelling flowers,
  135. the Naiads have held sacred from that hour,
  136. devoted to the bounteous goddess Plenty.’
  137. All this the River-god said; then a nymph,
  138. a lovely nymph like fair Diana dressed,
  139. whose locks were flowing down on either side,
  140. came graceful to the board, and brought to them
  141. of Autumn's plenty in an ample horn,
  142. and gave to them selected apples for
  143. a second course.
  144. And now, as early dawn
  145. appeared, and as the rising sunlight flashed
  146. on golden summits of surrounding hills,
  147. the young men waited not until the stream
  148. subsiding, had resumed its peaceful way,
  149. but all arose, reluctant, and went forth.
  150. Then Achelous, in his moving waves,
  151. hid his fine rustic features and his head,
  152. scarred by the wound which gave the Horn of Plenty.
  1. Loss of his horn had greatly humbled him,
  2. it was so cherished though his only loss, —
  3. but he could hide the sad disgrace with reeds
  4. and willow boughs entwined about his head.
  5. O, Nessus! your fierce passion for the same
  6. maid utterly destroyed even you, pierced through
  7. the body by a flying arrow-point.
  8. Returning to the city of his birth
  9. great Hercules, the son of Jupiter,
  10. with his new bride, arrived upon the bank
  11. of swift Evenus—after winter rains
  12. had swollen it so far beyond its wont,
  13. that, full of eddies, it was found to be
  14. impassable. The hero stood there, brave
  15. but anxious for his bride. Nessus, the centaur,
  16. strong-limbed and well-acquainted with those fords,
  17. came up to him and said, “Plunge in the flood
  18. and swim with unimpeded strength—for with
  19. my help she will land safely over there.”
  20. And so the hero, with no thought of doubt,
  21. trusted the damsel to the centaur's care,
  22. though she was pale and trembling with her fear
  23. of the swift river and the centaur's aid.
  24. This done, the hero, burdened as he was
  25. with quiver and the lion skin (for he
  26. had tossed his club and curving bow across
  27. the river to the other bank), declared,
  28. “Since I have undertaken it, at once
  29. this rushing water must be overcome.”
  30. And instantly, he plunged in without thought
  31. of where he might cross with most ease, for so
  32. he scorned to take advantage of smooth water.
  33. And after he had gained the other bank,
  34. while picking up his bow which there was thrown,
  35. he heard his wife's voice, anxious for his help.
  36. He called to Nessus who was in the act
  37. then to betray his trust: “Vain confidence!
  38. You are not swift enough, vile ravisher!
  39. You two-formed monster Nessus, I warn you!
  40. Hear me, and never dare to come between
  41. me and my love. If fear has no restraint,
  42. your father's dreadful fate on whirling wheel,
  43. should frighten you from this outrageous act:
  44. for you cannot escape, although you trust
  45. the fleet-foot effort of a rapid horse.
  46. I cannot overtake you with my feet
  47. but I can shoot and halt you with a wound.”
  48. his deed sustained the final warning word.
  49. He shot an arrow through the centaur's back,
  50. so that the keen barb was exposed beyond
  51. his bleeding breast. He tore it from both wounds,
  52. and life-blood spurted instantly, mixed with
  53. the deadly poison of Lernaean hydra.
  54. This Nessus caught, and muttering, “I shall not
  55. die unavenged”, he gave his tunic, soaked
  56. with blood to Deianira as a gift;
  57. and said, “Keep this to strengthen waning love.”
  58. Now many years passed by, and all the deeds,
  59. and labors of the mighty Hercules,
  60. gave to the wide world his unequalled fame;
  61. and finally appeased the hatred of
  62. his fierce stepmother.
  63. All victorious
  64. returning from Oechalia, he prepared
  65. to offer sacrifice, when at Cenaeum,
  66. upon an altar he had built to Jupiter,
  67. but tattling Rumor, swollen out of truth
  68. from small beginning to a wicked lie,
  69. declared brave Hercules, Amphitryon's son,
  70. was burning for the love of Iole.
  71. And Deianira—his fond wife—convinced
  72. herself, the wicked rumor must be true.
  73. Alarmed at the report of his new love,
  74. at first, poor wife, she was dissolved in tears,
  75. and then she sank in grievous misery.
  76. But soon in angry mood, she rose and said:
  77. “Why should I give up to my sorrow while
  78. I drown my wretched spirit in weak tears?
  79. Let me consider an effectual check—
  80. while it is possible—even before
  81. she comes, invader of my lawful bed:
  82. shall I be silent or complain of it?
  83. Must I go back to Calydon or stay?
  84. Shall I depart unbidden, from my house?
  85. Or, if no other method can prevail,
  86. shall I oppose my rival's first approach?
  87. O shade of Meleager, let me prove
  88. I am yet worthy to be called your sister;
  89. and in the desperate slaughter of this rival,
  90. the world, astonished, may be taught to fear
  91. the vengeance of an injured woman's rage.”
  92. So, torn by many moods, at last her mind
  93. fixed on one thought:—she might still keep his love,
  94. could certainly restore it, if she sent
  95. to him the tunic soaked in Nessus' blood.
  96. Unknowingly, she gave the fatal cause
  97. of her own woe to trusting Lichas, whom
  98. she urged in gentle words to take the gift,
  99. from her to her loved husband Hercules.
  100. He, unsuspecting, put the tunic on,
  101. all covered with Lernaean hydra's poison.
  102. The hero then was casting frankincense
  103. into the sacred flames, and pouring wine
  104. on marble altars, as his holy prayers
  105. were floating to the Gods. The hallowed heat
  106. striking upon his poisoned vesture, caused
  107. Echidna-bane to melt into his flesh.
  108. As long as he was able he withstood
  109. the torture. His great fortitude was strong.
  110. But when at last his anguish overcame
  111. even his endurance, he filled all the wild
  112. of Oeta with his cries: he overturned
  113. those hallowed altars, then in frenzied haste
  114. he strove to pull the tunic from his back.
  115. The poisoned garment, cleaving to him, ripped
  116. his skin, heat-shriveled, from his burning flesh.
  117. Or, tightening on him, as his great strength pulled,
  118. stripped with it the great muscles from his limbs,
  119. leaving his huge bones bare.
  120. Even his blood
  121. audibly hissed, as red-hot blades when they
  122. are plunged in water, so the burning bane
  123. boiled in his veins. Great perspiration streamed
  124. from his dissolving body, as the heat
  125. consumed his entrails; and his sinews cracked,
  126. brittle when burnt. The marrow in his bones
  127. dissolved, as it absorbed the venom-heat.
  1. There was no limit to his misery;
  2. raising both hands up towards the stars of heaven,
  3. he cried, “Come Juno, feast upon my death;
  4. feast on me, cruel one, look down from your
  5. exalted seat; behold my dreadful end
  6. and glut your savage heart! Oh, if I may
  7. deserve some pity from my enemy,
  8. from you I mean, this hateful life of mine
  9. take from me—sick with cruel suffering
  10. and only born for toil. The loss of life
  11. will be a boon to me, and surely is
  12. a fitting boon, such as stepmothers give!
  13. “Was it for this I slew Busiris, who
  14. defiled his temples with the strangers' blood?
  15. For this I took his mother's strength from fierce
  16. antaeus—that I did not show a fear
  17. before the Spanish shepherd's triple form?
  18. Nor did I fear the monstrous triple form
  19. of Cerberus.—And is it possible
  20. my hands once seized and broke the strong bull's horns?
  21. And Elis knows their labor, and the waves
  22. of Stymphalus, and the Parthenian woods.
  23. For this the prowess of these hands secured
  24. the Amazonian girdle wrought of gold;
  25. and did my strong arms, gather all in vain
  26. the fruit when guarded by the dragon's eyes.
  27. The centaurs could not foil me, nor the boar
  28. that ravaged in Arcadian fruitful fields.
  29. Was it for this the hydra could not gain
  30. double the strength from strength as it was lost?
  31. And when I saw the steeds of Thrace, so fat
  32. with human blood, and their vile mangers heaped
  33. with mangled bodies, in a righteous rage
  34. I threw them to the ground, and slaughtered them,
  35. together with their master! In a cave
  36. I crushed the Nemean monster with these arms;
  37. and my strong neck upheld the wide-spread sky!
  38. And even the cruel Juno, wife of Jove—
  39. is weary of imposing heavy toils,
  40. but I am not subdued performing them.
  41. “A new calamity now crushes me,
  42. which not my strength, nor valor, nor the use
  43. of weapons can resist. Devouring flames
  44. have preyed upon my limbs, and blasting heat
  45. now shrivels the burnt tissue of my frame.
  46. But still Eurystheus is alive and well!
  47. And there are those who yet believe in Gods!”
  48. Just as a wild bull, in whose body spears
  49. are rankling, while the frightened hunter flies
  50. away for safety, so the hero ranged
  51. over sky-piercing Oeta; his huge groans,
  52. his awful shrieks resounding in those cliffs.
  53. At times he struggles with the poisoned robe.
  54. Goaded to fury, he has razed great trees,
  55. and scattered the vast mountain rocks around!
  56. And stretched his arms towards his ancestral skies!
  57. So, in his frenzy, as he wandered there,
  58. he chanced upon the trembling Lichas, crouched
  59. in the close covert of a hollow rock.
  60. Then in a savage fury he cried out,
  61. “Was it you, Lichas, brought this fatal gift?
  62. Shall you be called the author of my death?”
  63. Lichas, in terror, groveled at his feet,
  64. and begged for mercy—“Only let me live!”
  65. But seizing on him, the crazed Hero whirled
  66. him thrice and once again about his head,
  67. and hurled him, shot as by a catapult,
  68. into the waves of the Euboic Sea.
  69. While he was hanging in the air, his form
  70. was hardened; as, we know, rain drops may first
  71. be frozen by the cold air, and then change
  72. to snow, and as it falls through whirling winds
  73. may press, so twisted, into round hailstones:
  74. even so has ancient lore declared that when
  75. strong arms hurled Lichas through the mountain air
  76. through fear, his blood was curdled in his veins.
  77. No moisture left in him, he was transformed
  78. into a flint-rock. Even to this day,
  79. a low crag rising from the waves is seen
  80. out of the deep Euboean Sea, and holds
  81. the certain outline of a human form,
  82. so sure]y traced, the wary sailors fear
  83. to tread upon it, thinking it has life,
  84. and they have called it Lichas ever since.
  85. But, O illustrious son of Jupiter!
  86. How many of the overspreading trees,
  87. thick-growing on the lofty mountain-peak
  88. of Oeta, did you level to the ground,
  89. and heap into a pyre! And then you bade
  90. obedient Philoctetes light a torch
  91. beneath it, and then take in recompense
  92. your bow with its capacious quiver full
  93. of arrows, arms that now again would see
  94. the realm of Troy. And as the pyre began
  95. to kindle with the greedy flames, you spread
  96. the Nemean lion skin upon the top,
  97. and, club for pillow, you lay down to sleep,
  98. as placid as if, with abounding cups
  99. of generous wine and crowned with garlands, you
  100. were safe, reclining on a banquet-couch.
  101. And now on every side the spreading flames
  102. were crackling fiercely, as they leaped from earth
  103. upon the careless limbs of Hercules.
  104. He scorned their power. The Gods felt fear
  105. for earth's defender and their sympathy
  106. gave pleasure to Saturnian Jove — he knew
  107. their thought—and joyfully he said to them:
  108. “Your sudden fear is surely my delight,
  109. O heavenly Gods! my heart is lifted up
  110. and joy prevails upon me, in the thought
  111. that I am called the Father and the King
  112. of all this grateful race of Gods. I know
  113. my own beloved offspring is secure
  114. in your declared protection: your concern
  115. may justly evidence his worth, whose deeds
  116. great benefits bestowed. Let not vain thoughts
  117. alarm you, nor the rising flames of Oeta;
  118. for Hercules who conquered everything,
  119. shall conquer equally the spreading fires
  120. which now you see: and all that part of him,
  121. celestial — inherited of me—
  122. immortal, cannot feel the power of death.
  123. It is not subject to the poison-heat.
  124. And therefore, since his earth-life is now lost,
  125. him I'll translate, unshackled from all dross,
  126. and purified, to our celestial shore.
  127. I trust this action seems agreeable
  128. to all the Deities surrounding me.
  129. If any jealous god of heaven should grieve
  130. at the divinity of Hercules,
  131. he may begrudge the prize but he will know
  132. at least 'twas given him deservedly,
  133. and with this thought he must approve the deed.”
  134. The Gods confirmed it: and though Juno seemed
  135. to be contented and to acquiesce,
  136. her deep vexation was not wholly hid,
  137. when Jupiter with his concluding words
  138. so plainly hinted at her jealous mind.
  139. Now, while the Gods conversed, the mortal part
  140. of Hercules was burnt by Mulciber;
  141. but yet an outline of a spirit-form
  142. remained. Unlike the well-known mortal shape
  143. derived by nature of his mother, he
  144. kept traces only of his father, Jove.
  145. And as a serpent, when it is revived
  146. from its old age, casts off the faded skin,
  147. and fresh with vigor glitters in new scales,
  148. so, when the hero had put off all dross,
  149. his own celestial, wonderful appeared,
  150. majestic and of godlike dignity.
  151. And him, the glorious father of the Gods
  152. in the great chariot drawn by four swift steeds,
  153. took up above the wide-encircling clouds,
  154. and set him there amid the glittering stars.
  1. Even Atlas felt the weight of Heaven increase,
  2. but King Eurystheus, still implacable,
  3. vented his baffled hatred on the sons
  4. of the great hero. Then the Argive mother,
  5. Alcmena, spent and anxious with long cares,
  6. the burden of her old age and her fears,
  7. could pass the weary hours with Iole
  8. in garrulous narrations of his worth,
  9. his mighty labors and her own sad days.
  10. Iole, by command of Hercules,
  11. had been betrothed to Hyllus, and by him
  12. was gravid, burdened with a noble child.
  13. And so to Iole, Alcmena told
  14. this story of the birth of Hercules:—
  15. “Ah, may the Gods be merciful to you
  16. and give you swift deliverance in that hour
  17. when needful of all help you must call out
  18. for Ilithyia, the known goddess of
  19. all frightened mothers in their travail, she
  20. whom Juno's hatred overcame and made
  21. so dreadful against me. For, when my hour
  22. of bearing Hercules was very near,
  23. and when the tenth sign of the zodiac
  24. was traversed by the sun, my burden then
  25. became so heavy, and the one I bore
  26. so large, you certainly could tell that Jove
  27. must be the father of the unborn child.
  28. “At last, no longer able to endure—
  29. ah me, a cold sweat seizes on me now;
  30. only to think of it renews my pains!
  31. Seven days in agony, as many nights,
  32. exhausted in my dreadful misery,
  33. I stretched my arms to heaven and invoked
  34. Lucina and three Nixian deities
  35. the guardians of birth. Lucina came;
  36. but before then she had been pledged to give
  37. my life to cruel Juno. While Lucina
  38. sat on the altar near the door and listened,
  39. with her right knee crossed over her left knee,
  40. with fingers interlocked, she stopped the birth:
  41. and in low muttered tones she chanted Charms
  42. which there prevented my deliverance.
  43. “I fiercely struggled, and insane with pain
  44. shrieked vain revilings against Jupiter;
  45. I longed for death, and my delirious words
  46. then should have moved the most unfeeling rocks.
  47. The Theban matrons, eager to help me,
  48. stood near me while they asked the aid of Heaven.
  49. “And there was present of the common class,
  50. my maid Galanthis—with her red-gold hair—
  51. efficient and most willing to obey
  52. her worthy character deserved my love.
  53. She felt assured, Juno unjustly worked
  54. some spell of strong effect against my life.
  55. And when this maid beheld Lucina perched
  56. so strangely on the altar, with her fingers
  57. inwoven on her knees and tightly pressed
  58. together, in a gripping finger-comb,
  59. she guessed that jealous Juno was the cause.
  60. Quick-witted, in a ringing voice this maid
  61. cried out, ‘Congratulations! All is well!
  62. Alcmena is delivered—a fine child
  63. so safely brought forth—her true prayers approved!’
  64. “Lucina, who presides at birth, surprised
  65. leaped up, unclenched her hands, as one amazed.
  66. Just as her hands unfastened, and her knees
  67. were parted from their stricture, I could feel
  68. the bonds of stricture loosen; and without
  69. more labor was delivered of my child.
  70. “'Tis said, Galanthis laughed and ridiculed
  71. the cheated deity; and as she laughed
  72. the vixen goddess caught her by the hair
  73. and dragging her upon the ground, while she
  74. was struggling to arise, held her, and there
  75. transformed both of her arms to animal
  76. forelegs. Her old activity remained;
  77. her hair was not changed, but she did not keep
  78. her maiden form: and ever since that day,
  79. because she aided with deceitful lips,
  80. her offspring are brought forth through the same mouth.
  81. Changed to a weasel she dwells now with me.”
  1. When she had ended the sad tale, she heaved
  2. a deep sigh, in remembrance of her tried,
  3. beloved servant; and her daughter-in-law
  4. Iole kindly answered in these words:
  5. “O my dear mother, if you weep because
  6. of her who was your servant, now transformed
  7. into a weasel, how can you support
  8. the true narration of my sister's fate;
  9. which I must tell to you, although my tears
  10. and sorrows hinder and forbid my speech?
  11. “Most beautiful of all Oechalian maids,
  12. was Dryope, her mother's only child,
  13. for you must know I am the daughter of
  14. my father's second wife. She is not now
  15. a maid; because, through violence of him
  16. who rules at Delphi and at Delos, she
  17. was taken by Andraemon, who since then
  18. has been accounted happy in his wife.
  19. “There is a lake surrounded by sweet lawns,
  20. encircling beauties, where the upper slope
  21. is crowned with myrtles in fair sunny groves.
  22. Without a thought of danger Dryope
  23. in worship one day went to gather flowers,
  24. (who hears, has greater cause to be indignant)
  25. delightful garlands, for the water-nymphs,
  26. and, in her bosom, carried her dear son,
  27. not yet a year old, whom she fed for love.
  28. Not far from that dream-lake, in moisture grew
  29. a lotus, beautiful in purple bloom,
  30. the blossoms promising its fruit was near.
  31. “At play with her sweet infant, Dryope
  32. plucked them as toys for him. I, too, was there,
  33. eagerly, also, I put forth my hand,
  34. and was just ready to secure a spray,
  35. when I was startled by some drops of blood
  36. down-falling from the blossoms which were plucked;
  37. and even the trembling branches shook in dread.
  38. “Who wills, the truth of this may learn from all
  39. quaint people of that land, who still relate
  40. the Story of Nymph Lotis. She, they say,
  41. while flying from the lust of Priapus,
  42. was transformed quickly from her human shape,
  43. into this tree, though she has kept her name.
  44. “But ignorant of all this, Dryope,
  45. alarmed, decided she must now return;
  46. so, having first adored the hallowed nymphs,
  47. upright she stood, and would have moved away,
  48. but both her feet were tangled in a root.
  49. There, as she struggled in its tightening hold,
  50. she could move nothing save her upper parts;
  51. and growing from that root, live bark began
  52. to gather slowly upward from the ground,
  53. spreading around her, till it touched her loins:
  54. in terror when she saw the clinging growth,
  55. she would have torn her hair out by the roots,
  56. but, when she clutched at it, her hands were filled
  57. with lotus leaves grown up from her changed head.
  58. “Alas, her little son, Amphissos, felt
  59. his mother's bosom harden to his touch,
  60. and no life-stream refreshed his eager lips.
  61. And while I saw your cruel destiny,
  62. O my dear sister! and could give no help,
  63. I clung to your loved body and around
  64. the growing trunk and branches, hoping so
  65. to stop their evil growth; and I confess,
  66. endeavored there to hide beneath the bark.
  67. “And, oh! Andraemon and her father, then
  68. appeared to me while they were sadly seeking
  69. for Dryope: so there I had to show
  70. the lotus as it covered her, and they
  71. gave kisses to the warm wood, and prostrate fell
  72. upon the ground, and clung to growing roots
  73. of their new darling tree, transformed from her.—
  74. Dear sister, there was nothing of yourself
  75. remaining but your face; and I could see
  76. your tears drop slowly on the trembling leaves
  77. which had so marvellously grown on you;
  78. and while your lips remained uncovered, all
  79. the air surrounding, echoed your complaint:—
  80. “If oaths of wretched women can have force,
  81. I swear I have not merited this fate!
  82. Though innocent, to suffer punishment!
  83. And if one word of my complaint is false,
  84. I pray I may soon wither, and my leaves
  85. fall from me as in blight, and let the axe
  86. devote me, wretched to the flames. But take
  87. this infant from my branches to a nurse;
  88. and let him often play beneath his tree,—
  89. his mother always. Let him drink his milk
  90. beneath my shade. When he has learned to talk
  91. let him salute me, and in sorrow say
  92. “In this tree-trunk my mother is concealed.”
  93. O, let him dread the fate that lurks in ponds,
  94. and let him often play beneath his tree,—
  95. and let him be persuaded every shrub
  96. contains the body of a goddess. — Ah!
  97. Farewell my husband,—sister, — and farewell
  98. my father! If my love remain in you
  99. remember to protect my life from harm,
  100. so that the pruning-knife may never clip
  101. my branches, and protect my foliage from
  102. the browsing sheep.
  103. “I cannot stoop to you;
  104. 0h, if you love me, lift your lips to mine,
  105. and let me kiss you, if but once again,
  106. before this growing lotus covers me.
  107. Lift up my darling infant to my lips.
  108. How can I hope to say much more to you?
  109. The new bark now is creeping up my neck,
  110. and creeping downward from my covered brow!
  111. Ah, do not close my live eyes with your hands;
  112. there is no need of it, for growing bark
  113. will spread and darken them before I die!’
  114. Such were the last words her poor smothered lips
  115. could utter; for she was so quickly changed;
  116. and long thereafter the new branches kept
  117. the warmth of her lost body, so transformed.”
  118. And all the while that Iole told this,
  119. tearful in sorrow for her sister's fate,
  120. Alcmena weeping, tried to comfort her.
  121. But as they wept together, suddenly
  122. a wonderful event astonished them;
  123. for, standing in the doorway, they beheld
  124. the old man Iolaus, known to them,
  125. but now transformed from age to youth, he seemed
  126. almost a boy, with light down on his cheeks:
  127. for Juno's daughter Hebe, had renewed
  128. his years to please her husband, Hercules.
  129. Just at the time when ready to make oath,
  130. she would not grant such gifts to other men—
  131. Themis had happily prevented her.
  132. “For even now,” she said, “a civil strife
  133. is almost ready to break forth in Thebes,
  134. and Capaneus shall be invincible
  135. to all save the strong hand of Jove himself;
  136. and there two hostile brothers shall engage
  137. in bloody conflict; and Amphiaraus
  138. shall see his own ghost, deep in yawning earth.
  139. “His own son, dutiful to him, shall be
  140. both just and unjust in a single deed;
  141. for he, in vengeance for his father's death,
  142. shall slay his mother, and confounded lose
  143. both home and reason,—persecuted both
  144. by the grim Furies and the awful ghost
  145. of his own murdered mother; this until
  146. his wife, deluded, shall request of him
  147. the fatal golden necklace, and until
  148. the sword of Phegeus drains his kinsman's blood.
  149. “And then at last his wife Callirhoe
  150. shall supplicate the mighty Jupiter
  151. to grant her infant sons the added years
  152. of youthful manhood. Then shall Jupiter
  153. let Hebe, guardian of ungathered days,
  154. grant from the future to Callirhoe's sons,
  155. the strength of manhood in their infancy.
  156. Do not let their victorious father's death
  157. be unavenged a long while. Jove prevailed
  158. upon, will claim beforehand all the gifts
  159. of Hebe, who is his known daughter-in-law,
  160. and his step-daughter, and with one act change
  161. Callirhoe's beardless boys to men of size.”
  1. When Themis, prophesying future days,
  2. had said these words, the Gods of Heaven complained
  3. because they also could not grant the gift
  4. of youth to many others in this way.
  5. Aurora wept because her husband had
  6. white hair; and Ceres then bewailed the age
  7. of her Iasion, grey and stricken old;
  8. and Mulciber demanded with new life
  9. his Erichthonius might again appear;
  10. and Venus, thinking upon future days,
  11. said old Anchises' years must be restored.
  12. And every god preferred some favorite,
  13. until vexed with the clamor, Jupiter
  14. implored, “If you can have regard for me,
  15. consider the strange blessings you desire:
  16. does any one of you believe he can
  17. prevail against the settled will of Fate?
  18. As Iolaus has returned by fate,
  19. to those years spent by him; so by the Fates
  20. Callirhoe's sons from infancy must grow
  21. to manhood with no struggle on their part,
  22. or force of their ambition. And you should
  23. endure your fortune with contented minds:
  24. I, also, must give all control to Fate.
  25. “If I had power to change the course of Fate
  26. I would not let advancing age break down
  27. my own son Aeacus, nor bend his back
  28. with weight of year; and Rhadamanthus should
  29. retain an everlasting flower of youth,
  30. together with my own son Minos, who
  31. is now despised because of his great age,
  32. so that his scepter has lost dignity.”
  33. Such words of Jupiter controlled the Gods,
  34. and none continued to complain, when they
  35. saw Aeacus and Rhadamanthus old,
  36. and Minos also, weary of his age.
  37. And they remembered Minos in his prime,
  38. had warred against great nations, till his name
  39. if mentioned was a certain cause of fear.
  40. But now, enfeebled by great age, he feared
  41. Miletus, Deione's son, because
  42. of his exultant youth and strength derived
  43. from his great father Phoebus. And although
  44. he well perceived Miletus' eye was fixed
  45. upon his throne, he did not dare to drive
  46. him from his kingdom.
  47. But although not forced,
  48. Miletus of his own accord did fly,
  49. by swift ship, over to the Asian shore,
  50. across the Aegean water, where he built
  51. the city of his name.
  52. Cyane, who
  53. was known to be the daughter of the stream
  54. Maeander, which with many a twist and turn
  55. flows wandering there—Cyane said to be
  56. indeed most beautiful, when known by him,
  57. gave birth to two; a girl called Byblis, who
  58. was lovely, and the brother Caunus—twins.
  59. Byblis is an example that the love
  60. of every maiden must be within law.
  61. Seized with a passion for her brother, she
  62. loved him, descendant of Apollo, not
  63. as sister loves a brother; not in such
  64. a manner as the law of man permits.
  65. At first she thought it surely was not wrong
  66. to kiss him passionately, while her arms
  67. were thrown around her brother's neck, and so
  68. deceived herself. And, as the habit grew,
  69. her sister-love degenerated, till
  70. richly attired, she came to see her brother,
  71. with all endeavors to attract his eye;
  72. and anxious to be seen most beautiful,
  73. she envied every woman who appeared
  74. of rival beauty. But she did not know
  75. or understand the flame, hot in her heart,
  76. though she was agitated when she saw
  77. the object of her swiftly growing love.
  78. Now she began to call him lord, and now
  79. she hated to say brother, and she said,
  80. “Do call me Byblis—never call me sister!”
  81. And yet while feeling love so, when awake
  82. she does not dwell upon impure desire;
  83. but when dissolved in the soft arms of sleep,
  84. she sees the very object of her love,
  85. and blushing, dreams she is embraced by him,
  86. till slumber has departed. For a time
  87. she lies there silent, as her mind recalls
  88. the loved appearance of her lovely dream,
  89. until her wavering heart, in grief exclaims:—
  90. “What is this vision of the silent night?
  91. Ah wretched me! I cannot count it true.
  92. And, if he were not my own brother, he
  93. why is my fond heart tortured with this dream?
  94. He is so handsome even to envious eyes,
  95. it is not strange he has filled my fond heart;
  96. so surely would be worthy of my love.
  97. But it is my misfortune I am his
  98. own sister. Let me therefore strive, awake,
  99. to stand with honor, but let sleep return
  100. the same dream often to me.—There can be
  101. no fear of any witness to a shade
  102. which phantoms my delight.—O Cupid, swift
  103. of love-wing with your mother, and O my
  104. beloved Venus! wonderful the joys
  105. of my experience in the transport. All
  106. as if reality sustaining, lifted me
  107. up to elysian pleasure, while in truth
  108. I lay dissolving to my very marrow:
  109. the pleasure was so brief, and Night, headlong
  110. sped from me, envious of my coming joys.
  111. “If I could change my name, and join to you,
  112. how good a daughter I would prove to your
  113. dear father, and how good a son would you
  114. be to my father. If the Gods agreed,
  115. then everything would be possessed by us
  116. in common, but this must exclude ancestors.
  117. For I should pray, compared with mine yours might
  118. be quite superior. But, oh my love,
  119. some other woman by your love will be
  120. a mother; but because, unfortunate,
  121. my parents are the same as yours, you must
  122. be nothing but a brother. Sorrows, then,
  123. shall be to us in common from this hour.
  124. What have my night-born vision signified?
  125. What weight have dreams? Do dreams have any weight?
  126. The Gods forbid! The Gods have sisters! Truth
  127. declares even Saturn married Ops, his own
  128. blood-kin, Oceanus his Tethys, Jove,
  129. Olympian his Juno. But the Gods
  130. are so superior in their laws, I should
  131. not measure human custom by the rights
  132. established in the actions of divinities.
  133. This passion must be banished from my heart,
  134. or, if it cannot be so, I must pray
  135. that I may perish, and be laid out dead
  136. upon my couch so my dear brother there
  137. may kiss my lips. But then he must consent,
  138. and my delight would seem to him a crime.
  139. “Tis known the sons of Aeolus embraced
  140. their sisters —But why should I think of these?
  141. Why should I take example from such lives?
  142. Must I do as they did? Far from it! let
  143. such lawless flames be quenched, until I feel
  144. no evil love for him, although the pure
  145. affection of a sister may be mine,
  146. and cherished. If it should have happened first
  147. that my dear brother had loved me—ah then,
  148. I might have yielded love to his desire.
  149. Why not now? I myself must woo him, since
  150. I could not have rejected him, if he
  151. had first wooed me. But is it possible
  152. for me to speak of it, with proper words
  153. describing such a strange confession? Love
  154. will certainly compel and give me speech.
  155. But, if shame seal my lips, then secret flame
  156. in a sealed letter may be safely told.”
  1. And after all this wavering, her mind
  2. at last was satisfied; and as she leaned
  3. on her left elbow, partly raised from her
  4. half-dream position, she said, “Let him see:
  5. let me at once confess my frantic passion
  6. without repression! O my wretched heart!
  7. What hot flame burns me!” But while speaking so,
  8. she took an iron pen in her right hand,
  9. and trembling wrote the heart-words as she could,
  10. all on a clean wax tablet which she held
  11. in her limp left hand. She begins and stops,
  12. and hesitates—she loves and hates her hot
  13. confession—writes, erases, changes here
  14. and there, condemns, approves, disheartened throws
  15. her tablets down and takes them up again:
  16. her mind refuses everything she does,
  17. and moves against each action as begun:
  18. shame, fear and bold assurance mingled showed
  19. upon her face, as she began to write,
  20. “Your sister” but at once decided she
  21. could not say sister, and commenced instead,
  22. with other words on her amended wax.
  23. “A health to you, which she who loves you fails
  24. to have, unless you grant the same to her.
  25. It shames me, oh I am ashamed to tell
  26. my name to you, and so without my name,
  27. I would I might plead well until the hopes
  28. of my desires were realized, and then
  29. you might know safely, Byblis is my name.
  30. “You might have knowledge of my wounded heart,
  31. because my pale, drawn face and down-cast eyes
  32. so often tearful, and my sighs without
  33. apparent cause have shown it — and my warm
  34. embraces, and my frequent kisses, much
  35. too tender for a sister. All of this
  36. has happened, while with agitated heart
  37. and in hot passion, I have tried all ways,
  38. (I call upon the Gods to witness it!)
  39. that I might force myself to sanity.
  40. And I have struggled, wretched nights and days,
  41. to overcome the cruelties of love,
  42. too dreadful for a frail girl to endure,
  43. for they most surely are all Cupid's art.
  44. “I have been overborne and must confess
  45. my passion, while with timid prayers I plead;
  46. for only you can save me. You alone
  47. may now destroy the one who loves you best:
  48. so you must choose what will be the result.
  49. The one who prays is not your enemy;
  50. but one most closely joined to you, yet asks
  51. to knit the tie more firmly. Let old men
  52. be governed by propriety, and talk
  53. of what is right and wrong, and hold to all
  54. the nice distinctions of strict laws. But Love,
  55. has no fixed law for those whose age is ours,
  56. is heedless and compliant. And we have
  57. not yet discovered what is right or wrong,
  58. and all we should do is to imitate
  59. the known example of the Gods. We have
  60. no father's harsh rule, and we have no care
  61. for reputation, and no fear that keeps
  62. us from each other. But there may be cause
  63. for fear, and we may hide our stolen love,
  64. because a sister is at liberty
  65. to talk with her dear brother—quite apart:
  66. we may embrace and kiss each other, though
  67. in public. What is wanting? Pity her
  68. whose utmost love compels her to confess;
  69. and let it not be written on her tomb,
  70. her death was for your sake and love denied.”
  71. Here when she dropped the tablet from her hand,
  72. it was so full of fond words, which were doomed
  73. to disappointment, that the last line traced
  74. the edge: and without thinking of delay,
  75. she stamped the shameful letter with her seal,
  76. and moistened it with tears (her tongue failed her
  77. for moisture). Then, hot-blushing, she called one
  78. of her attendants, and with timid voice
  79. said, coaxing, “My most trusted servant, take
  80. these tablets to my—” after long delay
  81. she said, “my brother.” While she gave the tablets
  82. they suddenly slipped from her hands and fell.
  83. Although disturbed by this bad omen, she
  84. still sent the letter, which the servant found
  85. an opportunity to carry off.
  86. He gave the secret love-confession. This
  87. her brother, grandson of Maeander, read
  88. but partly, and with sudden passion threw
  89. the tablets from him. He could barely hold
  90. himself from clutching on the throat of her
  91. fear-trembling servant; as, enraged, he cried,
  92. “Accursed pander to forbidden lust,
  93. be gone!—before the knowledge of your death
  94. is added to this unforeseen disgrace!”
  95. The servant fled in terror, and told all
  96. her brother's actions and his fierce reply
  97. to Byblis: and when she had heard her love
  98. had been repulsed, her startled face went pale,
  99. and her whole body trembled in the grip
  100. of ice-chills. Quickly as her mind regained
  101. its usual strength, her maddening love returned,
  102. came back with equal force, and while she choked
  103. with her emotion, gasping she said this:
  104. “I suffer only from my folly! why did I
  105. so rashly tell him of my wounded heart?
  106. And why did I so hastily commit
  107. to tablets all I should have kept concealed?
  108. I should have edged my way by feeling first,
  109. obscurely hinting till I knew his mind
  110. and disposition towards me. And so that
  111. my first voyage might get favorable wind,
  112. I should have tested with a close-reefed sail,
  113. and, knowing what the wind was, safely fared.
  114. But now with sails full spread I have been tossed
  115. by unexpected winds. And so my ship
  116. is on the rocks; and, overwhelmed with all
  117. the power of Ocean, I have not the strength
  118. to turn back and recover what is lost.
  119. “Surely clear omens warned me not to tell
  120. my love so soon, because the tablets fell
  121. just when I would have put them in the hand
  122. of my picked servant — certainly a sign
  123. my hasty hopes were destined to fall down.
  124. Is it not clear I should have changed the day;
  125. and even my intention? Rather say
  126. should not the day have been postponed at once?
  127. The god himself gave me unerring signs,
  128. if I had not been so deranged with love.
  129. I should have spoken to him, face to face;
  130. and with my own lips have confessed it all;
  131. and then my passion had been seen by him,
  132. and, as my face was bathed in tears, I could
  133. have told him so much more than words engraved
  134. on tablets; and, while I was telling him
  135. I could have thrown my arms around his neck,
  136. and if rejected could have seemed almost
  137. at point of death; as I embraced his feet,
  138. while prostrate, even might have begged for life.
  139. I could have tried so many plans, and they
  140. together would have won his stubborn heart.
  141. “Perhaps my stupid servant, in mistake,
  142. did not approach him at a proper time,
  143. and even sought an hour his mind was full
  144. of other things.
  145. “All this has harmed my case;
  146. there is no other reason; he was not
  147. born of a tigress, and his heart is not
  148. of flint or solid iron, or of adamant;
  149. and no she-lion suckled him. He shall
  150. be won to my affection; and I must
  151. attempt again, again, nor ever cease
  152. so long as I have breath. If it were not
  153. too late already to undo what has
  154. been done, 'twere wiser not begun at all.
  155. But since I have begun, it now is best
  156. to end it with success. How can he help
  157. remembering what I dared, although I should
  158. abandon my design! In such a case,
  159. because I gave up, I must be to him
  160. weak, fickle-minded; or perhaps he may
  161. believe I tried to tempt him with a snare.
  162. But come what may, he will not think of me
  163. as overcome by some god who inflames
  164. and rules the heart. He surely will believe
  165. I was so actuated by my lust.
  166. “If I do nothing more, my innocence
  167. is gone forever. I have written him
  168. and wooed him also, in a way so rash
  169. and unmistakable, that if I should
  170. do nothing more than this, I should be held
  171. completely guilty in my brother's sight—
  172. but I have hope, and nothing worse to fear.”
  1. Then back and forth she argues; and so great
  2. is her uncertainty, she blames herself
  3. for what she did, and is determined just
  4. as surely to succeed.
  5. She tries all arts,
  6. but is repeatedly repulsed by him,
  7. until unable to control her ways,
  8. her brother in despair, fled from the shame
  9. of her designs: and in another land
  10. he founded a new city.
  11. Then, they say,
  12. the wretched daughter of Miletus lost
  13. control of reason. She wrenched from her breast
  14. her garments, and quite frantic, beat her arms,
  15. and publicly proclaims unhallowed love.
  16. Grown desperate, she left her hated home,
  17. her native land, and followed the loved steps
  18. of her departed brother. Just as those
  19. crazed by your thyrsus, son of Semele!
  20. The Bacchanals of Ismarus, aroused,
  21. howl at your orgies, so her shrieks were heard
  22. by the shocked women of Bubassus, where
  23. the frenzied Byblis howled across the fields,
  24. and so through Caria and through Lycia,
  25. over the mountain Cragus and beyond
  26. the town, Lymira, and the flowing stream
  27. called Xanthus, and the ridge where dwelt
  28. Chimaera, serpent-tailed and monstrous beast,
  29. fire breathing from its lion head and neck.
  30. She hurried through the forest of that ridge—
  31. and there at last worn out with your pursuit,
  32. O Byblis, you fell prostrate, with your hair
  33. spread over the hard ground, and your wan face
  34. buried in fallen leaves. Although the young,
  35. still tender-hearted nymphs of Leleges,
  36. advised her fondly how to cure her love,
  37. and offered comfort to her heedless heart,
  38. and even lifted her in their soft arms;
  39. without an answer Byblis fell from them,
  40. and clutched the green herbs with her fingers, while
  41. her tears continued to fall on the grass.
  42. They say the weeping Naiads gave to her
  43. a vein of tears which always flows there from
  44. her sorrows—nothing better could be done.
  45. Immediately, as drops of pitch drip forth
  46. from the gashed pine, or sticky bitumen
  47. distils out from the rich and heavy earth,
  48. or as the frozen water at the approach
  49. of a soft-breathing wind melts in the sun;
  50. so Byblis, sad descendant of the Sun,
  51. dissolving in her own tears, was there changed
  52. into a fountain; which to this late day,
  53. in all those valleys has no name but hers,
  54. and issues underneath a dark oak-tree.
  1. The tale of this unholy passion would
  2. perhaps, have filled Crete's hundred cities then,
  3. if Crete had not a wonder of its own
  4. to talk of, in the change of Iphis. Once,
  5. there lived at Phaestus, not far from the town
  6. of Gnossus, a man Ligdus, not well known;
  7. in fact obscure, of humble parentage,
  8. whose income was no greater than his birth;
  9. but he was held trustworthy and his life
  10. had been quite blameless. When the time drew near
  11. his wife should give birth to a child, he warned
  12. her and instructed her, with words we quote:—
  13. “There are two things which I would ask of Heaven:
  14. that you may be delivered with small pain,
  15. and that your child may surely be a boy.
  16. Girls are such trouble, fair strength is denied
  17. to them.—Therefore (may Heaven refuse the thought)
  18. if chance should cause your child to be a girl,
  19. (gods pardon me for having said the word!)
  20. we must agree to have her put to death.”
  21. And all the time he spoke such dreaded words,
  22. their faces were completely bathed in tears;
  23. not only hers but also his while he
  24. forced on her that unnatural command.
  25. Ah, Telethusa ceaselessly implored
  26. her husband to give way to fortune's cast;
  27. but Ligdus held his resolution fixed.
  28. And now the expected time of birth was near,
  29. when in the middle of the night she seemed
  30. to see the goddess Isis, standing by
  31. her bed, in company of serious spirit forms;
  32. Isis had crescent horns upon her forehead,
  33. and a bright garland made of golden grain
  34. encircled her fair brow. It was a crown
  35. of regal beauty: and beside her stood
  36. the dog Anubis, and Bubastis, there
  37. the sacred, dappled Apis, and the God
  38. of silence with pressed finger on his lips;
  39. the sacred rattles were there, and Osiris, known
  40. the constant object of his worshippers' desire,
  41. and there the Egyptian serpent whose quick sting
  42. gives long-enduring sleep. She seemed to see
  43. them all, and even to hear the goddess say
  44. to her, “O Telethusa, one of my
  45. remembered worshippers, forget your grief;
  46. your husband's orders need not be obeyed;
  47. and when Lucina has delivered you,
  48. save and bring up your child, if either boy
  49. or girl. I am the goddess who brings help
  50. to all who call upon me; and you shall
  51. never complain of me—that you adored
  52. a thankless deity.” So she advised
  53. by vision the sad mother, and left her.
  54. The Cretan woman joyfully arose
  55. from her sad bed, and supplicating, raised
  56. ecstatic hands up towards the listening stars,
  57. and prayed to them her vision might come true.
  58. Soon, when her pains gave birth, the mother knew
  59. her infant was a girl (the father had
  60. no knowledge of it, as he was not there).
  61. Intending to deceive, the mother said,
  62. “Feed the dear boy.” All things had favored her
  63. deceit—no one except the trusted nurse,
  64. knew of it. And the father paid his vows,
  65. and named the child after its grandfather, whose
  66. name was honored Iphis. Hearing it so called,
  67. the mother could not but rejoice, because
  68. her child was given a name of common gender,
  69. and she could use it with no more deceit.
  70. She took good care to dress it as a boy,
  71. and either as a boy or girl, its face
  72. must always be accounted lovable.
  73. And so she grew,—ten years and three had gone,
  74. and then your father found a bride for you
  75. O Iphis—promised you should take to wife
  76. the golden-haired Ianthe, praised by all
  77. the women of Phaestus for the dower
  78. of her unequalled beauty, and well known,
  79. the daughter of a Cretan named Telestes.
  80. Of equal age and equal loveliness,
  81. they had received from the same teachers, all
  82. instruction in their childish rudiments.
  83. So unsuspected love had filled their hearts
  84. with equal longing—but how different!
  85. Ianthe waits in confidence and hope
  86. the ceremonial as agreed upon,
  87. and is quite certain she will wed a man.
  88. But Iphis is in love without one hope
  89. of passion's ecstasy, the thought of which
  90. only increased her flame; and she a girl
  91. is burnt with passion for another girl!
  92. She hardly can hold back her tears, and says:
  93. “O what will be the awful dreaded end,
  94. with such a monstrous love compelling me?
  95. If the Gods should wish to save me, certainly
  96. they should have saved me; but, if their desire
  97. was for my ruin, still they should have given
  98. some natural suffering of humanity.
  99. The passion for a cow does not inflame a cow,
  100. no mare has ever sought another mare.
  101. The ram inflames the ewe, and every doe
  102. follows a chosen stag; so also birds
  103. are mated, and in all the animal world
  104. no female ever feels love passion for
  105. another female—why is it in me?
  106. “Monstrosities are natural to Crete,
  107. the daughter of the Sun there loved a bull—
  108. it was a female's mad love for the male—
  109. but my desire is far more mad than hers,
  110. in strict regard of truth, for she had hope
  111. of love's fulfillment. She secured the bull
  112. by changing herself to a heifer's form;
  113. and in that subtlety it was the male
  114. deceived at last. Though all the subtleties
  115. of all the world should be collected here;—
  116. if Daedalus himself should fly back here
  117. upon his waxen wings, what could he do?
  118. What skillful art of his could change my sex,
  119. a girl into a boy—or could he change
  120. Ianthe? What a useless thought! Be bold
  121. take courage Iphis, and be strong of soul.
  122. This hopeless passion stultifies your heart;
  123. so shake it off, and hold your memory
  124. down to the clear fact of your birth: unless
  125. your will provides deception for yourself:
  126. do only what is lawful, and confine
  127. strictly, your love within a woman's right.
  128. “Hope of fulfillment can beget true love,
  129. and hope keeps it alive. You are deprived
  130. of this hope by the nature of your birth.
  131. No guardian keeps you from her dear embrace,
  132. no watchful jealous husband, and she has
  133. no cruel father: she does not deny
  134. herself to you. With all that liberty,
  135. you can not have her for your happy wife,
  136. though Gods and men should labor for your wish.
  137. None of my prayers has ever been denied;
  138. the willing Deities have granted me
  139. whatever should be, and my father helps
  140. me to accomplish everything I plan:
  141. she and her father also, always help.
  142. But Nature is more powerful than all,
  143. and only Nature works for my distress.
  144. “The wedding-day already is at hand;
  145. the longed-for time is come; Ianthe soon
  146. will be mine only—and yet, not my own:
  147. with water all around me I shall thirst!
  148. O why must Juno, goddess of sweet brides,
  149. and why should Hymen also, favor us
  150. when man with woman cannot join in wedlock,
  151. but both are brides?” And so she closed her lips.
  1. The other maiden flamed with equal love,
  2. and often prayed for Hymen to appear.
  3. But Telethusa, fearing that event,
  4. the marriage which Ianthe keenly sought,
  5. procrastinated, causing first delay
  6. by some pretended illness; and then gave
  7. pretence of omens and of visions seen,
  8. sufficient for delay, until she had
  9. exhausted every avenue of excuse,
  10. and only one more day remained before
  11. the fateful time, it was so near at hand.
  12. Despairing then of finding other cause
  13. which might prevent the fated wedding-day,
  14. the mother took the circled fillets from
  15. her own head, and her daughter's head, and prayed,
  16. as she embraced the altar—her long hair
  17. spread out upon the flowing breeze—and said:
  18. “O Isis, goddess of Paraetonium,
  19. the Mareotic fields, Pharos, and Nile
  20. of seven horns divided—oh give help!
  21. Goddess of nations! heal us of our fears!
  22. I saw you, goddess, and your symbols once,
  23. and I adored them all, the clashing sounds
  24. of sistra and the torches of your train,
  25. and I took careful note of your commands,
  26. for which my daughter lives to see the sun,
  27. and also I have so escaped from harm;—
  28. all this is of your counsel and your gift;
  29. oh, pity both of us—and give us aid!”
  30. Tears emphasized her prayer; the goddess seemed
  31. to move—in truth it was the altar moved;
  32. the firm doors of the temple even shook—
  33. and her horns, crescent, flashed with gleams of light,
  34. and her loud sistrum rattled noisily.
  35. Although not quite free of all fear, yet pleased
  36. by that good omen, gladly the mother left
  37. the temple with her daughter Iphis, who
  38. beside her walked, but with a lengthened stride.
  39. Her face seemed of a darker hue, her strength
  40. seemed greater, and her features were more stern.
  41. Her hair once long, was unadorned and short.
  42. There is more vigor in her than she showed
  43. in her girl ways. For in the name of truth,
  44. Iphis, who was a girl, is now a man!
  45. Make offerings at the temple and rejoice
  46. without a fear!—They offer at the shrines,
  47. and add a votive tablet, on which this
  48. inscription is engraved:
  49. these gifts are paid
  50. by Iphis as a man which as a maid
  51. he vowed to give.
  52. The morrow's dawn
  53. revealed the wide world; on the day agreed,
  54. Venus, Juno and Hymen, all have met
  55. our happy lovers at the marriage fires;
  56. and Iphis, a new man, gained his Ianthe.