|Nymphs of the
Land of Latium
THE NAIADES LATINIAI were Naiad Nymphs of the springs and fountains of Latium (i.e. the region of Rome) in Italy. They were daughters of the local River-Gods Albulba, Anio, and Almo.
|ALBULBA, ANIO, ALMO (Ovid Metamorphoses 14.326)
Ovid, Metamorphoses 14. 326 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"King Picus, son of Saturnus [Kronos], ruled the land of Ausonia [Latium] . . . You observe his features. Gaze upon his striking grace and from his likeness here admire the truth . . . Many a glance he drew from Dryades born among the Latin hills; he was the darling of the Numina Fontana (Fountain-Sprites) and all the Naides of Albulba and Anio and Almo's streams [but he loved Canens alone, daughter of Janus]."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 14. 787 ff :
"Cures warriors, like silent wolves stealing in whispers on the sleeping town [of Rome], made for the gates which Romulus had barred, but one of them Juno [Hera] herself unlocked, keeping the hinges silent. Only Venus [Aphrodite] perceived the gate's great bars had dropped, and would have closed it but that gods are never allowed to undo waht gods have done. Beside the shrine of Janus lived Ausonia's Naiad-Nymphae, their watery home an ice-cold welling spring. The goddess [Aphrodite] begged their help [when the Cures tribe attempted to capture the sleeping town], nor did the Nymphae baulk at her request, but conjured forth the currents of their spring; but still the gate of open Janus was unblocked, the gush of water had not barred the passageway. Now they set yellow sulphur underneath their sparkling spring and fired the hollow veins with smoking bitumen. Forced by their power and other pressures, heat pierced its way down right to the bottom of the spring, until water dared a moment past to vie with Alpine cold now matched the flame of fire. Splashed by the boiling flow the twin gateposts steamed and the gate . . . was blocked by the strange stream till the defending force could spring to arms."
Ovid, Fasti 4. 751 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"I entered a forbidden wood, and the Nymphae and half-goat god [Faunus-Pan] bolted from my sight. If any knife has robbed a grove of a shady bough to give ailing sheep a basket of leaves: forgive my offence. Do not fault me for sheltering my flock from the hail in a rustic shrine, nor harm me for disturbing the pools. Pardon, Nymphae, trampling hooves for muddying your stream. Goddess [Pales], placate for us the Springs and Fountain Spirits [Naiades], placate the gods dispersed through every grove. Keep from our sight the Dryades and Diana's [Artemis'] bath and Faunus [Pan] lying in the fields at noon."
Statius, Silvae 2. 3. 1 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :
"Enfolding with its overshadowing boughs the clear waters of my elegant Melior's [historical Latin patron of the poet Statius] lake there stands a tree, whose trunk, curing from its base, bends down towards the mere, and then shoots up aloft straight to its summit, as though it grew a second time from the midst of the waves, and dwelt with hidden roots in the glassy stream. Why ask so slight a tale of Phoebus [Apollon]? Do you, O Naides, relate the cause, and you compliant Fauni [Satyrs]--ye will suffice--inspire my song.
Frightened troops of Nymphae were fleeing from Pan; on he came, as though all were his quarry, yet on [the Naias] Pholoe alone was he bent. By copse and stream she fled, shunning now the hairy following limbs, now the wanton horns. Through Janus' grove [at the foot of the Capitol at Rome], scene of battles, and Cacus' deadly haunts [on the Aventine hill]; through the fields of Quirinus she came running a-tiptoe and gained the Caelian wilds; there at last wearied out and fordone with fear--where to-day stand the quiet home of hospitable Melior--she gathered her saffron robe closer about her, and sank down on the edge of the snow-white bank. Swiftly follows the shepherd-god, and deems the maid his bride; already he allays the panting of his fevered breast, already he hovers lightly o'er his prey.
Lo! With speedy steps Diana [Artemis] approached, as she ranges the seven hills and tracks the flight of a deer on Aventine; the goddess was vexed to see it, and turning to her trusty comrades: ‘Shall I never keep this unseemly, wanton brood from lustful rapine? Must my chaste band of followers ever grow fewer?’
So speaking she drew a short shaft from her quiver, but sped it not from the bent bow or with the wonted twang, but was content to fling it with one hand, and touched - so ‘tis said - the left hand of the drowsy Naiad with the arrow-feathers. She awaking beheld at once the day and her wanton foe, and lest she should bare her snow-white limbs plunged just as she was with all her raiment into the lake, and at the bottom of the mere, believing Pan was following, she wrapped the weeds about her.
What could the robber do, so suddenly baffled? Conscious of his shaggy hide, and from childhood untaught to swim, he dares not trust himself to the deep waters. Lavish complaint made he of heartless Bromius [Dionysos], of the jealous lake and jealous shaft; then spying a young plane tree with long stem and countless branches and summit aspiring to heaven he set it by him and heaped fresh sand about it and sprinkled it with the longed-for waters, and thus commanded it: ‘Live long, O tree, as the memorable token of my vow, and do thou at least stoop down and cherish the secret abode of this hard-hearted Nympha, and cover her waters with thy leaves. Let her not, I pray, though she has deserved it, be scorched by the sun's heat or lashed by cruel hail; only mind thou to bestrew the pool with thickly scattered leaves. Then will I long remember thee and the mistress of this kindly place, and guard both a secure old age, so that the trees of Jove [the oak of Zeus] and Phoebus [the laurel of Apollon], and the twy-coloured poplar shade and my own pines may marvel at thy boughs.’
So he spake; and the tree, quickened with the old passion of the god, hangs and broods over the full mere with drooping stem, and searches the waves with loving shadows, and hops for their embrace; but he breath of the waters put it from them, and suffered not its touch. At length it struggles upward, and poised upon its base cunningly lifts its head without any knot, as though it sank with another root into the bottom of the lake. Now not even the Nais, Phoebe's [Artemis'] votary, hates it, but her stream invites the boughs she banished."
- Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
- Ovid, Fasti - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
- Statius, Silvae - Latin Epic C1st AD