LYCOPHRON, ALEXANDRA
 

LYCOPHRON of Chalcis was a Greek poet and scholar of the Library of Alexandria who flourished in the C3rd BC. His cryptic poem, the Alexandra, tells the stories of the heroes of the Trojan War in the riddling, prophetic words of the Trojan princess Cassandra.

Callimachus, Hymns and Epigrams. Lycophron. Aratus. Translated by Mair, A. W. & G. R. Loeb Classical Library Volume 129. London: William Heinemann, 1921.

This Loeb volume is still in print and available new from Amazon.com (click on image right for details). In addition to the translation of Lycrophon's Alexandra the book contains Callimachus' Hymns and Epigrams and Aratus' description of the stars, the source Greek texts and Mair's introduction, copious footnotes and an index of proper names.

The Byzantine Greek scholar Tzetzes wrote an essay on Lycophron's Alexandra which explains the many cryptic references in the poem. However, there is still no English translation of this work.


LYCOPHRON INDEX

ALEXANDRA

ALEXANDRA WITH NOTES 1

ALEXANDRA WITH NOTES 2

ALEXANDRA WITH NOTES 3

ALEXANDRA, TRANSLATED BY A. W. MAIR

The speaker is a slave appointed to watch Cassandra and report her prophecies. He addresses Priam.

[1] ALL will I tell truly that thou askest from the utter beginning, and if the tale be prolonged, forgive me, master. For not quietly as of old did the maiden loose the varied voice of her oracles, but poured forth a weird confused cry, and uttered wild words from her bay-chewing mouth, imitating the speech of the dark Sphinx. Thereof what in heart and memory I hold, hear thou, O King, and, pondering with wise mind, wind and pursue the obscure paths of her riddles, whereso a clear track guides by a straight way through things wrapped in darkness. And I, cutting the utter bounding thread, will trace her paths of devious speech, striking the starting-point like winged runner.

[16] Dawn was just soaring over the steep crag of Phegion on swift wings of Pegasus ,leaving his bed by Cerne. Tithonus, brother of thine by another mother, and the sailors loosed in calm weather the cables from the grooved rock and cut the landward ropes. And the centipede fair-faced stork-hued daughters of Phalacra smote maiden-slaying Thetis with their blades, over Calydnae showing their white wings, their stern-ornaments, their sails outspread by the northern blasts of flaming stormwind: then Alexandra opened her inspired Bacchis lips on the high Hill of Doom that was founded by the wandering cow and thus began to speak:

[31] Alas! hapless nurse of mine burnt even aforetime by the warlike pineships of the lion that was begotten in three evenings, whom of old Triton’s hound of jagged teeth devoured with his jaws. But he, a living carver of the monster’s liver, seething in steam of cauldron on a flameless hearth, shed to ground the bristles of his head; he the slayer of his children, the destroyer of my fatherland; who smote his second mother invulnerable with grievous shaft upon the breast; who, too, in the midst of the race-course seized in his arms the body of his wrestler sire beside the steep hill of Cronus, where is the horse-affighting tomb of earth-born Ischenus; who also slew the fierce hound that watched the narrow straits of the Ausonian sea, fishing over her cave, the bull-slaying lioness whom her father restored again to life, burning her flesh with brands: she who feared not Leptynis, goddess of the underworld. But one day with swordless guile a dead corse slew him: yea, even him who of old overcame Hades; I see thee, hapless city, fired a second time by Aeaceian hands and by such remains as the funeral fire spared to abide in Letrina of the son of Tantalus when his body was devoured by the flames, with the winged shafts of the neat-herd Teutarus; all which things the jealous spouse shall bring to light, sending her son to indicate the land, angered by her father’s taunts, for her bed’s sake and because of the alien bride. And herself, the skilled in drugs, seeing the baleful wound incurable of her husband wounded by the giant-slaying arrows of his adversary, shall endure to share his doom, from the topmost towers to the new slain corpse hurtling herself head foremost, and pierced by sorrow for the dead shall breathe forth her soul on the quivering body.

[69] I mourn, twice and three times for thee who lookest again to the battle of the spear and the harrying of thy halls and the destroying fire. I mourn for thee, my country, and for the grave of Atlas’ daughter’s diver son, who of old in a stitched vessel, like an Istrian fish-creel with four legs, sheathed his body in a leathern sack and, all alone, swam like a petrel of Rheithymnia, leaving Zerynthos, cave of the goddess to whom dogs are slain, even Saos, the strong foundation of the Cyrbantes, what time the plashing rain of Zeus laid waste with deluge all the earth. And their towers were hurled to the ground, and the people set themselves to swim, seeing their final doom before their eyes. And on oat and acorn and the sweet grape browsed the whales and the dolphins and the seals that are fain of the beds of mortal men.

[86] I see the winged firebrand rushing to seize the dove, the hound of Pephnos, whom the water-roaming vulture brought to birth, husked in a rounded shell.

[90] And thee, cuckold sailor, the downward path of Acheron shall receive, walking no more the byres of they father’s rugged steadings, as one when thou wert arbiter of beauty for the three goddesses. But in place of stables thou shalt pass the Jaws of the Ass and Las, and instead of well-foddered crib and sheepfold and landsman’s blade a ship and oars of Phereclus shall carry thee to the two thoroughfares and the levels of Gytheion, where, on the rocks dropping the bent teeth of the pine-ship’s anchors to guard against the flood, thou shalt rest from gambols they nine-sailed fleet.

[102] And when thou, the wolf, shalt have seized the unwed heifer, robbed of her two dove daughters and fallen into a second net of alien snares and caught by the decoy of the fowler, even while upon the beach she burns the firstlings of the flocks to the Thysad nymphs and the goddess Byne, then shalt thou speed past Scandeia and past the cape of Aegilon, a fierce hunter exulting in thy capture.

[109] And in the Dragon’s Isle of Acte, dominion of the twyformed son of earth, thou shalt put from thee thy desire; but thou shalt see no morrow’s aftermath of love, fondling in empty arms a chill embrace and a dreamland bed. For the sullen husband, whose spouse is Torone of Phlegra, even he to whom laughter and tears are alike abhorred and who is ignorant and reft of both; who once on a time crossed from Thrace unto the coastland which is furrowed by the outflow of Triton; crossed not by sailing ship but by an untrodden path, like some moldwarp, boring a secret passage in the cloven earth, made his ways beneath the sea, avoiding the stranger-slaying wrestling of his sons and sending to his sire prayers which were heard, even that he should set him with returning feet in his fatherland, whence he had come as a wanderer to Pallenia, nurse of the earth-born – he, like Guneus, a doer of justice and arbiter of the Sun’s daughter of Ichnae, shall assail thee with evil words and rob thee of they bridal, casting thee forth in thy desire from thy wanton dove: thee who, regarding not the tombs of Lycus and Chimaereus, glorious in oracles, nor thy love of Antheus nor the pure salt of Aigaeon eaten by host and guest together, didst dare to sin against the gods and to overstep justice, kicking the table and overturning Themis, modeled in the ways of the she-bear that suckled thee.

[139] Therefore in vain shalt thou twang the noisy bowstring, making melodies that bring nor food nor fee; and in sorrow shalt thou come to thy fatherland that was burnt of old, embracing in thine arms the wraith of the five-times-married frenzied descendant of Pleuron. For the lame daughters of the ancient Sea with triple thread have decreed that her bedfellows shall share their marriage-feast among five bridegrooms.

[147] Two shall she see as ravening wolves, winged wanton eagles of sharp eyes; the third sprung from root of Plynos and Carian waters, a half-Cretan barbarian, a Epeian, no genuine Argive by birth: whose grandfather of old Ennaia Hercynna Erinys Thuria, the Sword-Bearer, cut fleshless with her jaws and buried in her throat, devouring the gristle of his shoulder: his who came to youth again and escaped the grievous raping desire of the Lord of Ships and was sent by Erechtheus to Letrina’s fields to grind the smooth rock of Molpis – whose body was served as sacrifice to Rainy Zeus – that he might overcome the wooer-slayer by the unholy device for slaying his father-in-law which the son of Cadmilus devised; who drinking his last cup dived into his tomb in Nereus – the tomb which bears his name – crying a blighting curse upon the race; even he who held the reins of swift-footed Psylla and Harpinna hoofed even as the Harpies.

[168] The fourth again shall she see own brother of the swooping falcon; him whom they shall proclaim to have won the second prize among his brothers in the wrestling of war. And the fifth she shall cause to pine upon his bed, distracted by her phantom face in his dreams; the husband to be of the stranger-frenzies lady of Cyta; even him whom one day the exile from Oenone fathered, turning into men the six-footed host of ants, – the Pelasgian Typhon, out of seven sons consumed in the flame alone escaping the fiery ashes.

[180] And he shall come upon his homeward path, raising the tawny wasps from their holds, even as a child disturbs their nest with smoke. And they in their turn shall come, sacrificing cruelty to the blustering winds the heifer that bare the war-named son, the mother that was brought to bed of the dragon of Scyrus; for whom her husband shall search within the Salmydesian Sea, where she cuts the throats of Greeks, and shall dwell for a long space in the white-crested rock by the outflowing of the marshy waters of the Celtic stream; yearning for his wife whom at her slaying a hind shall rescue from the knife, offering her own throat instead. And the deep waste within the wash of the waves upon the beach shall be called the Chase of the bridegroom, mourning his ruin and his empty seafaring and her that vanished and was changed to an old witch, beside the sacrificial vessels and the lustral water and the bowl of Hades bubbling from the depths with flame, whereon the dark lady will blow, potting the flesh of the dead as might a cook.

[200] And he lamenting shall pace the Scythian land for some five years yearning for his bride. And they, beside the altar of the primal prophet, Cronus, who devours the callow young with their mother, binding themselves by the yoke of a second oath, shall take in their arms the strong oar, invoking him who saved them in their former woes, even Bacchus, the Overthrower, to whom the bull-god, one day in the shrine beside the cavern of Delphinius the Gainful god, the lord of a thousand ships, a city-sacking host, shall make secret sacrifice. And in unlooked-for requital of his offerings the god of Phigaleia, the lusty Torch-god, shall stay the lion from his banquet, entangling his foot in withes, so that he destroy not utterly the cornfield of men, nor lay it waste with tooth and devouring jaws.

[216] Long since I see the coil of trailing woes dragging in the brine and hissing against my fatherland dread threats and fiery ruin.

[219] Would that in sea-girt Issa Cadmus had never begotten thee to be the guide of the foemen, fourth in descent from unhappy Atlas, even thee, Prylis, who didst help to overthrow thine own kindred, prophet most sure of best fortune! And would that my father had not spurned the nightly terrors of the oracle of Aesacus and that for the sake of my fatherland he had made away with the two in one doom, ashing their bodies with Lemnian fire. So had not such a flood of woes overwhelmed the land.

[229] And now Palaemon, to whom babes are slain, beholds the hoary Titanid bride of Ogenus seething with the corded gulls.

[232] And now two children are slain together with their father who is smitten on the collar-bone with the hard mill-stone, an omen of good beginning; those children which before escaped when cast out to death in an ark through the lying speech of the piper, to whom hearkened the sullen butcher of his children – he the gull-reared, captive of the nets of fishermen, friend of winkle and bandy sea-snail – and imprisoned his two children in a chest. And therewithal the wretch, who was not mindful to tell the bidding of the goddess mother but erred in forgetfulness, shall die upon his face, his breast pierced by the sword.

[243] And now Myrina groans the sea-shores awaiting the snorting of horses, when the fierce wolf shall leap the swift leap of his Pelasgian foot upon the last beach and cause the clear spring to gush from the sand, opening fountains that hitherto were hidden.

[249] And now Ares, the dancer, fires the land, with his conch leading the chant of blood. And all the land lies ravaged before my eyes and, as it were fields of corn, bristle the fields of the gleaming spears. And in my ears seems a voice of lamentation from the tower tops reaching to the windless seats of air, with groaning women and rending of robes, awaiting sorrow upon sorrow.

[258] That woe, O my poor heart, that woe shall wound thee as a crowning sorrow, when the dusky, sworded, bright-eyed eagle shall rage, with his wings marking out the land – the track traced by bandied crooked steps – and, crying with his mouth his dissonant and chilly cry, shall carry aloft the dearest nursling of all thy brothers, dearest to thee and to his sire the Lord of Ptoön, and, bloodying his body with talon and beak, shall stain with gore the land, both swamp and plain, a ploughman cleaving a smooth furrow in the earth. And having slain the bull he takes the price thereof, weighed in the strict balance of the scales. But one day he shall for recompense pour in the scales an equal weight of the far-shining metal of Pactolus, and shall enter the cup of Bacchus, wept by the nymphs who love the clear water of Bephyras and the high seat of Leibethron above Pimpleia; even he, the trafficker in corpses, who, fearing beforehand his doom, shall endure to do upon his body a female robe, handling the noisy shuttle at the loom, and shall be the last to set his foot in the land of the foe, cowering, O brother, even in his sleep before thy spear.

[281] O Fate, what a pillar of our house shalt thou destroy, withdrawing her mainstay from my unhappy fatherland! But not with impunity, not without bitter toil and sorrow shall the pirate Dorian host laugh exulting in the doom of the fallen; but by the sterns running life’s last lap shall they be burnt along with the ships of pine, calling full often to Zeus the Lord of Flight to ward off bitter fate from them who perish. In that day nor trench nor defence of naval station nor stake-terraced palisade nor cornice shall avail nor battlements. But, like bees, confused with smoke and rush of flame and hurling of brands, many a diver shall leap from deck to sternpeak and prowneck and benched seats and stain with blood the alien dust.

[297] And many chieftains, and many that bore away the choicest of the spoils won by Hellas and glories in their birth, shall thy mighty hands destroy, filled full with blood and eager for battle. But not the less sorrow shall I bear, bewailing, yea, all my life long, thy burial. For pitiful, pitiful shall that day be for mine eyes and crown of all my woes that Time, wheeling the moon’s orb, shall be said to bring to pass.

[307] Ay! me, for they fair-fostered flower, too, I groan, O lion whelp, sweet darling of thy kindred, who didst smite with fiery charm of shafts the fierce dragon and seize for a little loveless while in unescapable noose him that was smitten, thyself unwounded by thy victim: thou shalt forfeit thy head and stain thy father’s altar-tomb with thy blood.

[314] O, me unhappy! the two nightingales and they fate, poor hound, I weep. One, root and branch, the dust that gave her birth shall, yawning, swallow in a secret cleft, when she sees the approaching feet of lamentable doom, even where her ancestor’s grove is, and where the groundling heifer of secret bridal lies in one tomb with her whelp, ere ever it drew the sweet milk and ere she cleansed her with fresh water from the soilure of childbed. And thee to cruel bridal and marriage sacrifice the sullen lion, child of Iphis, shall lead, imitating his dark mother’s lustrations; over the deep pail the dread butcherly dragon shall cut thy throat, as it were a garlanded heifer, and slay thee with the thrice-descended sword of Candaon, shedding for the wolves the blood of the first oath-sacrifice. And thee, again, an aged captive by the hollow strand, stoned by the public arm of the Doloncians, roused thereto by the railing curses, a robe shall cover with a rain of stones, when thou shalt put on thee sable-tailed form of Maira.

[335] And he, slain beside the altar tomb of Agamemnon, shall deck the pedestal with his grey locks – even he who, a poor prisoner ransomed for his sister’s veil, came to his country devastated with fire, and shrouded in dim darkness his former name – what time the fierce-crested serpent, seller of the land that bred him, kindles the grievous torch and draws the belly-bands and lets slip the travailing terrible ambush, and when the own cousin of the crafty reynard, son of Sisyphus, lights his evil beacon for them who sailed away to narrow Leucophrys and the two islands of child-devouring Porceus.

[348] And I, unhappy, who refused wedlock, within the building of my stony maiden chamber without ceiling, hiding my body in the unroofed tenement of my dark prison: I who spurned from my maiden bed the god Thoraios, Lord of Ptoön, Ruler of the Seasons, as one who had taken eternal maidenhood for my portion to uttermost old age, in imitation of her who abhors marriage, even Pallas, Driver of the Spoil, the Wardress of the Gates – in that day, as a dove, to the eyrie of the vulture, in frenzy shall be haled violently in crooked talons, I who often invoked the Maiden, Yoker of Oxen, the Sea-gull, to help and defend me from marriage. And she unto the ceiling of her shrine carven of wood shall turn up her eyes and be angry with the host, even she that fell from heaven and the throne of Zeus, to be a possession most precious to my great grandfather the King. And for the sin of one man all Hellas shall mourn the empty tombs of ten thousand children – not in receptacles of bones, but perched on rocks, nor hiding in urns the embalmed last ashes from the fire, as is the ritual of the dead, but a piteous name and legends on empty cairns, bathed with the burning tears of parents and of children and mourning of wives.

[373] O Opheltes and Zarax, who keepest the secret places of the rocks, and yet cliffs, the Trychantes, and rugged Nedon, and all ye pits of Dirphossus and Diacria, and thou haunt of Phorcys! what groaning shall ye hear of corpses cast up with decks broken in twain, and what tumult of the surge that may not be escaped, when the foaming water drags men backward in its swirling tides! And how many tunnies with the sutures of their heads split upon the frying-pan! of whom the down-rushing thunderbolt in the darkness shall eat as they perish: when the destroyer shall lead them, their heads yet arching from the debauch, and light a torch to guide their feet in the darkness, sitting at his unsleeping art.

[387] And one, like a diving kingfisher, the wave shall carry through the narrow strait, a naked glutton-fish swept between the double reefs. And on the Gyrae rocks drying his feathers dripping from the sea, he shall drain a second draught of the brine, hurled from the banks by the three-taloned spear, wherewith this dread punisher, that once was a thrall, shall smite him and compel him to run his race among the whales, blustering, like a cuckoo, his wild words of abuse. And his chilly dolphin’s dead body cast upon the shore the rays of Seirius shall wither. And, rotten mummy-fish, among moss and seaweed Nesaia’s sister shall hide him for pity, she that was the helper of the most mighty Quoit, the Lord of Cynaetha. And his tomb beside the Quail that was turned to stone shall trembling watch the surge of the Aegean sea. And bitter in Hades he shall abuse with evil taunts the goddess of Castnion and Melina, who shall entrap him in the unescapable meshes of desire, in a love that is no love but springing for him the bitter death-drawing snare of the Erinyes.

[408] And woes of lamentation shall the whole land hear – all that Aratthos and the impassable Leibethrian gates of Dotion enclose: by all these, yea, even by the shore of Acheron, my bridal shall long be mourned. For in the maws of many sea-monsters shall be entombed the countless swarm devoured by their jaws with many rows of teeth; while others, strangers in a strange land, bereft of relatives, shall receive their graves.

[417] For one Bisaltian Eion by the Strymon, close marching with the Apsynthians and Bistonians, nigh to the Edonians, shall hide, the old nurse of youth, wrinkled as a crab, ere ever he behold Tymphrestus’ crag: even him who of all men was most hated by his father, who pierced the lamps of his eyes and made him blind, when he entered the dove’s bastard bed.

[424] And three sea-gulls the glades of Cercaphus shall entomb, not far from the waters of Aleis: one the swan of Molossus Cypeus Coetus, who failed to guess the number of the brood-sow’s young, when, dragging his rival into the cunning contest of the wild figs, himself, as the oracle foretold, shall err and sleep the destined sleep; the next, again, fourth in descent from Erechtheus, own brother of Aethon in the fictitious tale; and third, the son of him that with stern mattock ploughed the wooden walls of the Ectenes, whom Gongylates, the Counsellor, the Miller, slew and brake his head in pieces with his curse-expelling lash, what time the maiden daughters of Night armed them that were the brothers of their own father for the lust of doom dealt by mutual hands.

[439] And two by the mouth of the streams of Pyramus, hounds of Deraenus, shall be slain by mutual slaughter, and fight their last battle at the foot of the towers of the daughter of Pamphylus. And a steep sea-bitten fortress, even Mabarsus, shall stand between their holy cairns, so that even when they have gone down to the habitations of the dead, they may not behold each other’s tombs, bathed in blood.

[446] And five shall come to the Horned Isle of Wasps and Satrachus and the land of Hylates, and dwell beside Morpho the Lady of Zerynthus.

[450] One shall be he that shall be banished by his father’s taunts from the cave of Cychreus and the waters of Bocarus; even he my cousin, as a bastard breed, the ruin of his kin, the murderer of the colt begotten by the same father; of him who spent his sworded frenzy on the herds; whom the hide of the lion made invulnerable by the bronze in battle and who possessed but one path to Hades and the dead – that which the Scythian quiver covered, what time the lion, burning sacrifice to Comyrus, uttered to his sire his prayer that was heard, while he dandled in his arms his comrade’s cub. For he shall not persuade his father that the Lemnian thunderbolt of Enyo – he the sullen bull that never turned to flee – smote his own bowels with the gift of his bitterest foe, diving in sorrowful leap on the sword’s edge in self-wrought slaughter. Far from his fatherland his sire shall drive Trambelus’ brother, whom my father’s sister bare, when she has given to him who razed the towers as first-fruits of the spear. She it was that the babbler, the father of three daughters, standing up in the council of his townsmen, urged should be offered as dark banquet for the grey hound, which with briny water was turning all the land to mud, spewing waves from his jaws and with fierce surge flooding all the ground. But, in place of the woodpecker, he swallowed in his throat a scorpion and bewailed to Phorcus the burden of his evil travail, seeking to find counsel in his pain.

[478] The second who comes to the island is a country-man and a landsman, feeding on simple food, one of the sons of the oak, the wolf-shaped devourers of the flesh of Nyctimus, a people that were before the moon, and who in the height of winter heated in the ashes of the fire their staple of oaken bread; he shall dig for copper and from the trench drag the soil, mining with mattock every pit. His father the tusk of Oeta slew, crushing his body in the regions of the belly. In sorrow, wretched man, he learnt the truth of the saying that the all-devising fate of men rolls many a thing betwixt the life and the draught of the cup. That same tusk, all flecked with glistening foam, when he had fallen took vengeance on his slayer, smiting with unescapable blow the dancer’s ankle-bone.

[494] And the third is the son of him who took from the hollow of the rock the arms of the giant; even he into whose secret bed shall come self-invited that heifer of Ida who shall go down to Hades alive, worn out with lamentation, the mother of Munitus, whom one day, as he hunts, a viper of Crestone shall kill, striking his heel with fierce sting; what time into his father’s hands that father’s father’s mother, taken captive, shall lay the young cub reared in the dark: she on whom alone the wolves which harried the people of Acte set the yoke of slavery in vengeance for the raped Bacchant, those wolves whose head a cloven egg-shell covers, to guard them from the bloody spear; all else the worm-eaten untouched seal watches in the halls, a great marvel to the people of the country. Which things shall rear a ladder to the trace of the stars for the twin half-mortal Lapersii. Whom, O Saviour Zeus, never mayst thou send against my fatherland to succour the twice-raped corncrake, nor may they equip their winged ships and from the stern end set their naked swift foot in the landing-place of the Bebryces! Neither may those others who are mightier than these lions, the unapproachable in valour, whom Ares loves and divine Enyo and the goddess that was born on the third day, Boarmia Longatis Homolois Bia. The walls which the two working craftsmen, Drymas and Prophantus, Lord of Cromna, built for the king that brake his oath, would not avail for one day against the ravaging wolves, to keep out their grievous ruinous assault, even though they have before the towers the mighty Canastraean, the native giant, as a bar against the foemen, eager to smite with well-aimed shaft the first harrier of the flocks. His spear shall a bold falcon first handsel, swooping a swift leap, best of the Greeks, for whom, when he is dead, the ready shore of the Doloncians builds of old a tomb, even Mazusia jutting from the horn of the dry land.

[535] But we have one, yea one beyond our hope, for gracious champion, even the god Drymnius Promatheus Aethiops Gyrapsius, who, when they who are destined to suffer things dread and undesirable shall receive in their halls their fatal guest, the swooping robber, the wandering Orthanes, and when at banquet and festival they shall seek to propitiate the inexorable Lord of Cragos, shall put in the midst of their talk grievous wrangling. And first in words they shall tear each other with their teeth, exasperate with jeers; but anon the own cousins shall ply the spear, eager to prevent the violent rape of their cousin birds, and the carrying off of their kin, in vengeance for the traffic without gifts of wooing. Surely many a shaft shall the stream of Cnacion behold hurled by the daring eagles, incredible and marvellous for the Pheraeans to hear. One with his spear of cornel-wood shall slay one of the pair – a lion joining battle with a bull. The other in turn with his lance shall pierce the side of the ox and bring him to the ground. But against him the undaunted ram shall butt a second blow, hurling the headstone of the Amyclaean tomb. And bronze spear and thunderbolts together shall crush the bulls – whereof one had such valour as even Sciastes Orchieus, Lord of Tilphossa, did not scorn, when he bent his bow in battle. And the one pair Hades shall receive: the others the meadows of Olympus shall welcome as guests on every alternate day, brothers of mutual love, undying and dead.

[567] So their spear shall god lull to rest for us, granting us a brief remedy in our woe. But a cloud of others unapproachable in their might shall he rouse – whose rage not even the son of Rhoeo shall lull nor stay, though he bid them abide for the space of nine years in his island, persuaded by his oracles, and though he promised that his three daughters shall give blameless sustenance to all who stay and roam the Cynthian hill beside Inopus, drinking the Egyptian waters of Triton. These daughters lusty Problastus taught to be skilled in contriving milled food and to make wine and fatty oil – even the dove grand-daughters of Zarax, skilled to turn things into wine. These shall heal the great and wasting hunger of the host of alien hounds, coming one day to the grave of Sithon’s daughter.

[584] These things the Ancient Maidens whirl on with rushing thread on brazen spindles. But Cepheus and Praxandrus, not princes of a naval host but a nameless brood, fifth and fourth shall come to the land of the goddess queen of Golgi; whereof the one shall lead a Laconian troop from Therapna; the other from Olenus and Dyme shall lead his host of the men of Bura.

[594] Another shall found Argyrippa, a Daunian estate beside Ausonian Phylamus, seeing the bitter fate of his comrades turned to winged birds, who shall accept a sea life, after the manner of fishermen, like in form to bright-eyed swans. Seizing in their bills the spawn of fishes they shall dwell in an island which bears their leader’s name, on a theatre-shaped rising ground, building in rows their close-set nests with firm bits of wood, after the manner of Zethus. And together they shall betake them to the chase and by night to rest in the dell, avoiding all the alien crowd of men, but in folds of Grecian robes seeking their accustomed resting-place they shall eat crumbs from the hand and fragments of cake from the table, murmuring pleasantly, remembering, hapless ones, their former way of life. His wounding of the Lady of Troezen shall be part cause of his wild lustful bitch shall be frenzied for adulterous bed. But the altar-tomb of Hoplosmia shall save him from doom, when already prepared for slaughter. And in the glen of Ausonia he shall stand like a colossus resting his feet on the boulders, the foundations of Amoebeus, the builder of the walls, when he has cast out of his ship the ballast stones. And, disappointed by the judgement of his brother Alaenus, he shall cast an effectual curse upon the fields, that they may never send up the opulent corn-ear of Deo, when Zeus with his rain nurtures the soil, save only if one who draws his blood from his own Aetolian stock shall till the land, cleaving the furrows with team of oxen. And with pillars which no man shall boast to have moved even a little by his might. For as on wings they shall come back again, traversing with trackless steps the terraces. And a high god shall he be called by many, even by those who dwell by the cavernous plain of Io, when he shall have slain the dragon that harried the Phaeacians.

[633] And others shall sail to the sea-washed Gymnesian rocks – crab-like, clad in skins – where cloakless and unshod they shall drag out their lives, armed with three two-membered slings. Their mothers shall teach the far-shooting art to their young offspring by supperless discipline. For none of them shall chew bread with his jaws, until with well-aimed stone he shall have won the cake set as a mark above the board. These shall set foot on the rough shores that feed the Iberians near the gate of Tartessus – a race sprung from ancient Arne, chieftains of the Temmices, yearning for Graea and the cliffs of Leontarne and Scolusa nd Tegyra and Onchestus’ seat and the flood of Thermodon and the waters of Hypsarnus.

[648] Others shall wander beside Syrtis and the Libyan plains and the narrow meet of the Tyrrhenian Strait and the watching-place fatal to mariners of the hybrid monster that formerly died by the hand of Mecisteus, the hide-clad Spademan, the Cattle-driver, and the rocks of he harpy-limbed nightingales. There, devoured raw, Hades, mine host, shall seize them all, torn with all manner of evil entreatment; and he shall leave but one to tell of his slaughtered friends, even the man of the dolphin device, who stole the Phoenician goddess. He shall see the dwelling of the one-eyed lion, offering in his hands to that flesh-eater the cup of the vine as an after-supper draught. And he shall see the remnant that was spared by the arrows of Ceramyntes Peuceus Palaemon. That remnant shall break in pieces all the well-turned hulls and shall with rushes pierce their evil spoil, as it were of fishes. Unhappy labour after labour shall await him, each more baleful than that which went before. What Charybdis shall not eat of his dead? What half-maiden Fury-hound? What barren nightingale, slayer of the Centaurs, Aetolian or Curetid, shall not with her varied melody tempt them to waste away through fasting from food? What beast-moulding dragoness shall he not behold, mixing drugs with meal, and beast-shaped doom? And they, hapless ones, bewailing their fate shall feed in pigstyles, crunching grapestones mixed with grass and oilcake. But him the drowsy root shall save from harm and the coming of Ctaros, the Bright Three-headed god of Nonacris.

[681] And he shall come to the dark plain of the departed and shall seek the ancient seer of the dead, who knows the mating of men and women. He shall pour in a trench warm blood for the souls, and, brandishing before him his sword to terrify the dead, he shall there hear the thin voice of the ghosts, uttered from shadowy lips.

[688] Thereafter the island that crushed the back of the Giants and the fierce storm of Typhon, shall receive him journeying alone: an island boiling with flame, wherein the king of the immortals established an ugly race of apes, in mockery of all who raised war against the sons of Cronus. And passing the tomb of Baius, his steersman, and the dwellings of the Cimmerians and the Acherusian waters swelling with heaving surge and Ossa and the cattle-path built by the lion and the grove of Obrimo, the Maiden who dwells beneath the earth, and the Fiery Stream, where the difficult Polydegmon hill stretches its head to the sky; from which hill’s depths draw all streams and all springs throughout the Ausonian land; and leaving the high slope of Lethaeon and the lake Aornus rounded with a noose and the waters of Cocytus wild and dark, stream of black Styx, where Termieus made the seat of oath-swearing for the immortals, drawing the water in golden basins of libation, when he was about to go against the Giants and Titans – he shall offer up a gift to Daeira and her consort, fastening his helmet to the head of a pillar. And he shall slay the triple daughters of Tethys’ son, who imitated the strains of their melodious mother: self-hurled from the cliff’s top they dive with their wings into the Tyrrhenian sea, where the bitter thread spun by the Fates shall draw them. One of them washed ashore the tower of Phalerus shall receive, and Glanis wetting the earth with its streams. There the inhabitants shall build a tomb for the maiden and with libations and sacrifice of oxen shall yearly honour the bird goddess Parthenope. And Leucosia shall be cast on the jutting strand of Enipeus and shall long haunt the rock that bears her name, where rapid Is and neighbouring Laris pour forth their waters. And Ligeia shall come ashore at Tereina spitting out the wave. And her shall sailormen bury on the stony beach nigh to the eddies of Ocinarus; and an ox-horned Ares shall lave her tomb with his streams, cleansing with his waters the foundation of her whose children were turned into birds. And there one day in honour of the first goddess of the sisterhood shall the ruler of all the navy of Mopsops array for his mariners a torch-race, in obedience to an oracle, which one day the people of the Neopolitans shall celebrate, even they who shall dwell on bluff crags beside Misenum’s sheltered haven untroubled by the waves.

[738] And he shall shut up the blustering winds in the hide of an ox, and wandering in woes that ebb and flow, he, the sea-gull, shall be burnt with the lash of the thunderbolt, clinging to the branch of a wild fig-tree so that the wave which draws spouting Charybdis to the deep may not swallow him in the surge. And, after brief pleasure in wedlock with the daughter of Atlas, he dares to set foot in his offhand vessel that never knew a dockyard and to steer, poor wretch, the bark which his own hands made, vainly fastened with dowels to the midst of the keel. Wherefrom Amphibaeus shall toss him forth, as it were the tiny unfledged brood of a halcyon’s bride, and cast him, with midbeams and deck together, headlong as a diver into the waves, entangled in the ropes, and sleepless, swept in the secret places of the sea, he shall dwell with the citizen of Thracian Anthedon. And like a branch of pine, blast after blast shall toss him as a cork, leaping on him with their gusts. And hardly shall the frontlet of Byne save him from the evil tide with torn breast and fingers wherewith he shall clutch the flesh-hooking rocks and be stained with blood by the sea-bitten spikes. And crossing to the island abhorred by Cronus – the isle of the Sickle that severed his privy parts – he a cloakless suppliant, babbling of awful sufferings, shall yelp out his fictitious tale of woe, paying the curse of the monster whom he blinded. Ah! not yet, not yet! Let no such sleep of forgetfulness find Melanthus, the Lord of Horses, bending. For he shall come, he shall come to Rheithron’s sheltering haven and the cliffs of Neriton. And he shall behold all his house utterly overthrown from its foundation by lewd wife-stealers. And the vixen, primly coquetting, will make empty his halls, pouring forth the pour wight’s wealth in banqueting. And he himself, poor parasite, shall see trouble beyond what he endured at the Scaean gates; he shall endure to bear with submissive back sullen threats from his own slaves and to be punished with jeers; shall endure, too, to submit to buffeting of fists and hurling of potsherds. For not alien stripes but the liberal seal of Thoas shall remain upon his sides, engraved with rods: stripes which he, our destroyer, shall consent without a murmur to have engraved upon him, putting the voluntary weal upon his frame, that he may ensnare the foemen, with spying wounds and with tears deceiving our king. He whom of old the Temmician hill of Bombyleia bare to be our chiefest bane – he alone of all his mariners, wretched one, shall win safely home. And lastly, like a sea-gull that roams the waves, worn all about by the salt water even as a shell and finding his possessions swallowed up in banqueting of the Pronians by the Laconian lady of fatal frenzy, ancient as a crow he shall flee with his weapons the shelter of the sea and in wrinkled age die beside the woods of Neriton. The deadly spike, hard to heal, of the Sardinian fish shall wound his sides with its sting and kill him; and his son shall be called the butcher of his father, that son who shall be the own cousin of the bride of Achilles. And in death he shall be garlanded as a seer by the Eurytanian folk and by the dweller in the steep abode of Trampya, wherein one day hereafter the Tymphaean dragon, even the king of the Aethices, shall at a feast destroy Heracles sprung from the seed of Aeacus and Perseus and no stranger to the blood of Temenus.

[805] When he is dead, Perge, hill of the Tyrrhenians, shall receive his ashes in the land of Gortyn; when, as he breathes out his life, he shall bewail the fate of his son and his wife, whom her husband shall slay and himself next pass to Hades, his throat cut by the hands of his sister, the own cousin of Glaucon and Apsyrtus.

[812] And having seen such a heap of woes he shall go down a second time to unturning Hades, having never beheld a day of calm in all his life. O wretched one! how much better had it been for thee to remain in thy homeland driving oxen, and to harness still the working stallion ass to the yoke, frenzied with feigned pretence of madness, than to suffer the experience of such woes!

[820] And he again – the husband seeking for his fatal bride snatched from him having heard rumours, and yearning for the winged phantom that fled to the sky – what secret places of the sea shall he not explore? What dry land shall he not come and search? First he shall visit the watching-place of Typhon, and the old hag turned to stone, and the jutting shores of the Erembi, abhorred by mariners. And he shall see the strong city of unhappy Myrrha, who was delivered of the pangs of child-birth by a branching tree; and the tomb of Gauas whose death the Muses wrought – wept by the goddess of the Rushes, Arenta, the Stranger: Gauas whom the wild boar slew with white tusk. And he shall visit the towers of Cepheus and the place that was kicked by the foot of Hermes Laphrios, and the two rocks on which the petrel leapt in quest of food, but carried off in his jaws, instead of a woman, the eagle son of the golden Sire – a male with winged sandals who destroyed his liver. By the harvester’s blade shall be slain the hateful whale dismembered: the harvester who delivered of her pains in birth of horse and man the stony-eyed weasel whose children sprang from her neck. Fashioning men as statues from top to toe he shall envelop them in stone – he that stole the lamp of his three wandering guides.

[847] And he shall visit the fields which drink in summer and the stream of Asbystes and the couch on the ground where he shall sleep among evil-smelling beasts. And all shall he endure for the sake of the Aegyan bitch, her of three husbands, who bare only female children. And he shall come as a wanderer to the folk of the Iapyges and offer gifts to the Maiden of the Spoils, even the mixing-bowl from Tamassus and the shield of oxhide and fur-lined shoes of his wife. And he shall come to Siris and the recesses of Lacinium, wherein a heifer shall fashion an orchard for the goddess Hopolosmia, furnished with trees. And it shall be for all time an ordinance for the women of the land to mourn the nine-cubit hero, third in descent from Aeacus and Doris, the hurricane of battle strife, and not to deck their radiant limbs with gold, nor array them in fine-spun robes stained with purple – because a goddess to a goddess presents that great spur of land to be her dwelling-place. And he shall come to the inhospitable wrestling-arena of the bull whom Colotis bare, even Alentia, Queen of the recesses of Longuros, rounding the Cronos’ Sickle’s leap and the water of Concheia, and Gonusa and the plains of the Sicanians, and the shrine of the ravenous wolf clad in the skin of a wild beast, which the descendant of Cretheus, when he had brought his vessel to anchor, built with his fifty mariners. And the beach still preserves the oily scrapings of the bodies of the Minyans, nor does the waves of the brine cleanse them, nor the long rubbing of the rainy shower.

[877] And others the shores and reefs near Taucheira mourn, cast upon the desolate dwelling-place of Atlas, grinning on the points of their wreckage: where Mopsus of Titaeron died and was buried by the mariners, who set over his tomb’s pedestal a broken blade from the ship Argo, for a possession of the dead, – where the Cinypheian stream fattens Ausigda with its waters, and where to Triton, descendant of Nereus, the Colchian woman gave as a gift the broad mixing-bowl wrought of gold, for that he showed them the navigable path whereby Tiphys should guide through the narrow reefs his ship undamaged. And the twy-formed god, son of the sea, declares that the Greeks shall obtain the sovereignty of the land when the pastoral people of Libya shall take from their fatherland and give to a Hellene the home-returning gift. And the Asbytians, fearing his vows, shall hide the treasure from sight in low depths of the earth, whereon the blasts of Boreas shall cast with his mariners the hapless leader of the men of Cyphos and the son of Tenthedron from Palauthra, king of the Amphrysians of Euryampus, and the lord of the Wolf that devoured the atonement and was stone and of the crags of Tymphrestus. Of whom some, unhappy, yearning for their fatherland of Aegoneia, others for Echinos, others for Titaros and for Iros and for Trachis and Perhaebic Gonnos and Phalanna, and the fields of the Olossonians, and Castanaia, torn on the rocks shall bewail their fate that lacks the rites of funeral.

[909] One evil fate after another shall god arouse, presenting them with grievous calamity in place of return to their homes.

[911] Another shall the streams of Aesarus and the little city of Crimisa in the Oenotrian land receive: even the snake-bitten slayer of the fire-brand; for the Trumpet herself shall with her hand guide his arrow point, releasing the twanging Maeotian bowstring. On the banks of Dyras he burnt of old the bold lion, and armed his hands with the crooked Scythian dragon that harped with unescapable teeth. And Crathis shall see his tomb when he is dead, sideways from the shrine of Alaeus of Patara, where Nauaethus belches seaward. The Ausonian Pellenians shall slay him when he aids the leaders of the Lindians, whom far from Thermydron and the mountains of Carpathus the fierce hound Thrascias shall send wandering to dwell in a strange and alien soil. But in Macalla, again, the people of the place shall build a great shrine above his grave and glorify him as an everlasting god with libations and sacrifice of oxen.

[930] In the sheltering arms of Lagaria shall dwell the builder of the horse. Afraid of the spear and the impetuous phalanx, he pays for the false oath of his father regarding the spear-won herds, which wretchedman, when the towers of Comaetho were confounded by the army in the cause of loving marriage, he dared to swear by Aloetis Cydonia Thraso, and by the god of Crestone, Candaon or Mamertus, warrior wolf. He even within his mother’s womb arrayed hateful battle against his brother with blows of his hands, while he looked not yet on the bright light of Tito, nor had yet escaped the grievous pains of birth. And for his false oath the gods made his son grow to be a coward man, a good boxer but a skulker in the mellay of the spear. By his arts he most greatly helped the host; and by Ciris and the bright waters of Cylistanus he shall dwell as an alien, far from his fatherland; and the tools wherewith he shall bore country, he shall consecrate in the shrine of Myndia.

[951] And others shall dwell in the land of the Sicanians, wandering to the spot where Laomedon, stung by the ravages of the gluttonous sea-monster, gave to mariners to expose the three daughters of Phoenodamas that they should be devoured by ravenous wild beasts, there far off where they came to the land of the Laestrygonians in the West, where dwells always abundant desolation. And those daughters in their turn built a great shrine for the Zerynthian mother of the wrestler, as a gift to the goddess, for as much as they had escaped from doom and lonely dwelling. Of these one the river Crimisus, in the likeness of a dog, took to be his bride: and she to the half-beast god bears a noble whelp, settler and founder of three places. That whelp shall guide the bastard scion of Anchises and bring him to the farthest bounds of the three-necked island, voyaging from Dardanian places. Hapless Aegesta! to thee by devising of the gods there shall be most great and age-long sorrow for my country when it is consumed by the breath of fire. And thou alone shalt groan for long, bewailing and lamenting unceasingly the unhappy overthrow of her towers. And all they people, clad in the sable garb of the suppliant, squalid and unkempt, shall drag out a sorrowful life, and the unshorn hair of their heads shall deck their backs, keeping the memory of ancient woes.

[978] And many shall dwell in Siris and Leutarnia’s fields, where lies the unhappy Calchas who Sisyphus-like counted the unnumbered figs, and who was smitten on the head by the rounded scourge – where Sinis’ swift stream flows, watering the rich estate of Chonia. There the unhappy men shall build a city like Ilios, and shall vex the Maiden Laphria Salpinx by slaying in the temple of the goddess the descendants of Xuthus who formerly occupied the town. And her image shall shut its bloodless eyes, beholding the hateful destruction of Ionians by Achaeans and the kindred slaughter of the wild wolves, when the minister son of the priestess dies and stains fir the altar with his dark blood.

[992] And others shall take to them the steep Tylesian hills and sea-washed Linos’ hilly promontory, the territory of the Amazon, taking on them the yoke of a slave woman, whom, as servant of the brazen-mailed impetuous maiden, the wave shall carry wandering to an alien land: slave of that maiden whose eye, smitten as she breathes her last, shall bring doom to the ape-formed Aetolian pest, wounded by the bloody shaft. And the men of Croton shall sack the city of the Amazon, destroying the dauntless maiden Clete, queen of the land that bears her name. But, ere that, many shall be laid low by her hand and bite the dust with their teeth, and not without labour shall the sons of Laureta sack the towers.

[1008] Others, again, in Tereina, where Ocinarus moistens the earth with his streams, bubbling with bright water, shall dwell, weary with bitter wandering.

[1011] And him, again, who won the second prize for beauty, and the boar leader from the streams of Lycormas, the mighty son of Gorge, on the one hand the Thracian blasts, falling on taut sails, shall carry to the sands of Libya; on the other hand from Libya again the blast of the South wind shall carry them to the Argyrini and the glades of Ceraunia, shepherding the sea with grievous hurricane. And there they shall see a sorry wandering life, drinking the waters of Aias which springs from Lacmon. And neighbouring Crathis and the land of the Mylaces shall receive them in their bounds to dwell at Polae, the town of the Colchians whom the angry ruler of Aea and of Corinth, the husband of Eiduia, sent to seek his daughter, tracking the keel that carried off the bride; they settled by the deep stream of Dizerus.

[1027] Others wanderers shall dwell in the isle of Melita, near Othronus, round which Sicanian wave laps beside Pachynus, grazing the steep promontory that in after time shall bear the name of the son of Sisyphus and the famous shrine of the maiden Longatis, where Helorus empties his chilly stream.

[1033] And in Othronus shall dwell the wolf that slew his own grandfather, yearning afar for his ancestral stream of Coscynthus. Standing in the sea upon the rocks he shall declare to his countrymen the compact of the sailing army. For never will the ally of Justice, the Telphusian hound that dwells by the streams of Ladon, allow the murderer to touch with his feet his fatherland, if he has not spent a great year in exile. Thence, fleeing from the terrible warfare of the serpent-shaped vermin, he shall sail to the city of Amantia, and coming nigh to the land of the Atintanians, right beside Practis shall he dwell upon a steep hill, drinking the waters of Chaonian Polyanthes.

[1047] And near the Ausonian false-tomb of Calchas one of the two brothers shall have an alien soil over his bones and to men sleeping in sheepskins on his tomb he shall declare in dreams his unerring message for all. And healer of diseases shall he be called by the Daunians, when they wash the sick with the waters of Althaenus and invoke the son of Epius to their aid, that he may come gracious unto men and flocks. There some time for the ambassadors of the Aetolians shall dawn a sad and hateful day, when, coming to the land of the Salangi and the seats of the Angaesi, they shall ask the fields of their lord, the rich inheritance of goodly soil. Alive in a dark tomb within the recesses of a hollow cleft shall the savages hide them; and for them the Daunites shall set up a memorial of the dead without funeral rites, roofed with piled stones, giving them the land which they desired to get, – the land of the son of the dauntless boar who devoured the brains of his enemy.

[1067] And the mariners of the descendants of Naubolus shall come to Tecmessa, where the hard horn of the Hipponian hill inclines to the sea of Lampeta. And in place of the bounds of Crisa they shall till with ox-drawn trailing ploughshare the Crotonian fields across the straits, longing for their native Lilaea and the plain of Anemoreia and Amphissa and famous Abae. Poor Setaea! for the waits an unhappy fate upon the rocks, where, most pitifully outstretched with brazen fetters on thy limbs, thou shalt die, because thou didst burn the fleet of thy masters: bewailing near Crathis thy body cast out and hung up for gory vultures to devour. And that cliff, looking on the sea, shall be called by thy name in memory of thy fate.

[1083] And others again beside the Pelasgian streams of Membles and the Cerneatid isle shall sail forth and beyond the Tyrrhenian strait occupy Lametian waters Leucanian plains.

[1086] And griefs and varied sufferings shall be the lot of these – bewailing their fate which allows them not to return home, on account of my haling to unhappy marriage.

[1090] Nor shall they who after many days come gladly home kindle the flame of votive offering in gratitude to Cerdylas Larynthius. With such craft shall the hedgehog ruin their homes and mislead the housekeeping hens embittered against the cocks. Nor shall the ship-devouring hostile beacons abate their sorrow for his shattered scion, whom a new-dug habitation in the territory of Methymna shall hide.

[1099] One at the bath while he seeks for the difficult exits of the mesh about his neck, entangled in a net, shall search with blind hands the fringed stitching. And diving under the hot covering of the bath he shall sprinkle with his brains tripod and basin, when he is smitten in the midst of the skull with the well-sharpened axe. His piteous ghost shall wing its way to Taenarus, having looked on the bitter housekeeping of the lioness. And I beside the bath shall lie on the ground, shattered by the Chalybdic sword. For she shall cleave me – broad tendon and back – even as a woodcutter workman on the mountains cleaves trunk of pine or stem of oak – and, sand-viper as she is, will rend all my cold body in blood and set her foot on my neck and glut her laden soul of bitter bile, taking relentless vengeance on me in evil jealousy, as if I were a stolen bride and not a spear-won prize. And calling on my master and husband, who hears no more, I shall follow his track on wings of the wind. But a whelp, seeking vengeance for his father’s blood, shall with his own hand plunge his sword in the entrails of the viper, with evil healing the evil pollution of his race.

[1122] And my husband, lord of a slave bride, shall be called Zeus by the crafty Spartiates, obtaining highest honours from the children of Oebalus. Nor shall my worship be nameless among men, nor fade hereafter in the darkness of oblivion. But the chiefs of the Daunians shall build for me a shrine on the banks of the Salpe, and those also who inhabit the city of Dardanus, beside the waters of the lake. And when girls wish to escape the yoke of maidens, refusing for bridegrooms men adorned with locks such as Hector wore, but with defect of form or reproach of birth, they will embrace my image with their arms, winning of mighty shield against marriage, having clothed them in the garb of the Erinyes and dyed their faces with magic simples. By those staff-carrying women I shall long be called an immortal goddess.

[1141] And to many women robbed of their maiden daughters I shall bring sorrow hereafter. Long shall they bewail the leader who sinned against the laws of marriage, the pirate of the Cyprian goddess, when they shall send to the unkindly shrine their daughters reft of marriage. O Larymna and Spercheius and Boagrius and Cynus and Scarpheia and Phalorias and city of Naryx and Locrian streets of Thronium and Pyrnoean glades and all the house of Ileus son of Hodoedocus – ye for the sake of my impious wedlock shall pay penance to the goddess Gygaea Agrisa, for the space of a thousand years fostering to old age your unwed daughters by the arbitrament of the lot. And they, aliens in an alien land, shall have without funeral rites a tomb, a sorry tomb in wave-washed sands, when Hephaestus burns with unfruitful plants the limbs of her that perishes from Traron’s peaks, and tosses her ashes into the sea. And, to fill the place of those that shall die, others shall come by night to the fields of Sithon’s daughter by secret paths and glancing fearfully, until they rush into the shrine of Ampheira as suppliants beseeching with their prayers Stheneia. And they shall sweep and array the floor of the goddess and cleanse it with dew, having escaped the loveless anger of the citizens. For every man of Ilios shall keep watch for the maidens, with a stone in his hands, or a dark sword or hard bull-slaying axe, or shaft from Phalacra, eager to sate his hand athirst for blood. And the people shall not harm him who slays that race of reproach, but shall praise him and grave his name by ordinance.

[1174] O mother, O unhappy mother! thy fame, too, shall not be unknown, but the maiden daughter of Perseus, Triform Brimo, shall make thee her attendant, terrifying with thy baying in the night all mortals who worship not with torches the images of the Zerynthian queen of Strymon, appeasing the goddess of Pherae with sacrifice. And the island spur of Pachynus shall hold thine awful cenotaph, piled by the hands of thy master, prompted by dreams when thou hast gotten the rites of death in front of the streams of Helorus. He shall pour on the shore offerings for thee, unhappy one, fearing the anger of the three-necked goddess, for that he shall hurl the first stone at thy stoning and begin the dark sacrifice to Hades.

[1189] And thou, O brother, most beloved of my heart, stay of our halls and of our whole fatherland, not in vain shalt thou redden the altar pedestal with blood of bulls, giving full many a sacrificial offering to him who is lord of Ophion’s throne. But he shall bring thee to the plain of his nativity, that land celebrated above others by the Greeks, where his mother, skilled in wrestling, having cast into Tartarus the former queen, delivered her of him in travail of secret birth, escaping the child-devouring unholy feast of her spouse; and the fattened not his belly with food, but swallowed instead the stone, wrapped in limb-fitting swaddling-clothes: savage Centaur, tomb of his own offspring. And in the Islands of the Blest thou shalt dwell, a mighty hero, defender of the arrows of pestilence, where the sown folk of Ogygus, persuaded by the oracles of the Physician Lepsius Termintheus, shall lift thee from thy cairn in Ophryneion and bring thee to the tower of Calydnus and the land of the Aonians to be their saviour, when they are harassed by an armed host which seeks to sack their land and the shrine of Tenerus. An the chiefs o the Ectenes shall with libations celebrate thy glory in the highest, even as the immortals.

[1214] And unto Cnossus and the halls of Gortyn shall come the woe of me unhappy, and all the house of the rulers shall be overthrown. For not quietly shall the fisherman voyage, rowing his two-oared boat, to stir up Leucus, guardian of the kingdom, and weaving hate with lying wiles. He shall spare neither the children of Meda the wedded wife, in the rage of his mind, nor the daughter Cleisithera, whom her father shall betroth unhappily to the serpent whom he himself has reared. All will he slay with impious hands in the temple, maltreated and abused in the Trench of Oncaea.

[1226] And the fame of the race of my ancestors shall hereafter be exalted to the highest by their descendants, who shall with their spears win the foremost crown of glory, obtaining the sceptre and monarchy of earth and sea. Nor in the darkness of oblivion, my unhappy fatherland, shalt thou hide thy glory faded. Such a pair of lion whelps shall a certain kinsman of mine leave, a breed eminent in strength: the son of Castnia called also Cheiras, – in counsel best and not to be despised in battle. He shall first come to occupy Rhaecelus beside the steep crag of Cissus and the horned women of Laphystius. And from Almopia in his wandering Tyrsenia shall receive him and Lingeus bubbling forth its stream of hot waters, and Pisa and the glades of Agylla, rich in sheep. And with him shall an erstwhile foe join a friendly army, winning him by oaths and prayers and clasped knees: even the Dwarf who in his roaming searched out every recess of sea and earth; and therewithal the two sons of the King of the Mysians, whose spear one day shall be bent by the Housekeeping God of Wine, who shall fetter his limbs with twisted tendrils; even Tarchon and Tyrsenus, tawny wolves, sprung from the blood of Heracles. There he shall find full of eatable a table which is afterwards devoured by his attendants and shall be reminded of an ancient prophecy. And he shall found in places of the Boreigonoi a settled land beyond the Latins and Daunians – even thirty towers, when he has numbered the offspring of the dark sow, which he shall carry in his ship from the hills of Ida and places of Dardanus, which shall rear such number of young at birth. And in one city he shall set up an image of that sow and her suckling young, figuring them in bronze. And he shall build a shrine to Myndia Pallenis and establish therein the images of his fathers’ gods. He shall put aside his wife and children and all his rich possessions and honour these first, together with his aged sire, wrapping them in his robes, what time the spearmen hounds, having devoured all the goods of his country together by casting of lots, to him alone shall give the choice to take and carry away what gift from his house he will. Wherefore being adjudged even by his foes to be most pious, he shall found a fatherland of highest renown in battle, a tower blest in the children of after days, by the tall glades of Circaeon and the great Aeëtes haven, famous anchorage of the Argo, and the waters of the Marsionid lake of Phorce and the Titonian stream of the cleft that sinks to unseen depths beneath the earth and the hill of Zosterius, where is the grim dwelling of the maiden Sibylla, roofed by the cavernous pit that shelters her.

[1281] So many are the woes, hard to bear, which they shall suffer who are to lay waste my fatherland.

[1282] For what has the unhappy mother of Prometheus in common with the nurse of Sarpedon? Whom the sea of Helle and the Clashing Rocks and Salmydessus and the inhospitable wave, neighbour to the Scythians, sunder with strong cliffs and Tanais divides with his streams – Tanais who, undefiled, cleaves the middle of the lake which is most dear to Maeotian men who mourn their chilblained feet.

[1291] My curse, first upon the Carnite sailor hounds! the merchant wolves who carried off from Lerne the ox-eyed girl, the bull-maiden, to bring to the lord of Memphis a fatal bride, and raised the beacon of hatred for the two continents. For afterward the Curetes, Idaean boars, seeking to avenge the rape by their heavy deed of violence, carried off captive in a bull-formed vessel the Saraptian heifer to the Dictaean palace to be the bride of Asteros, the lord of Crete. Nor were they contended when they had taken like for like; but sent Teucer and his Draucian father Scamandrus a raping army to the dwelling-place of the Bebryces to war with mice; of the seed of those men Dardanus begat the authors of my race, when he married the noble Cretan maiden Arisba.

[1309] And second they sent the Atracian wolves to steal for their leader of the single sandal the fleece that was protected by the watching dragon’s ward. He came to Libyan Cytaea and put to sleep with simples that four-nostrilled snake, and handled the curved plough of the fire-breathing bulls, and had his own body cut to pieces in a caldron and, not joyfully, seized the hide of the ram. But the self-invited crow he carried off – her who slew her brother and destroyed her children – and set her as ballast in the chattering jay which uttered a mortal voice derived from Chaonian abode and well knew how to speed.

[1322] And again he that took up from the rock his father’s shoes and sword-belt and sword, the son of Phemius, on whose sad grave – whereto he was hurled without funeral rites – steep Scyrus long keeps watch beneath its hissing precipices – he went with the wild beast, the Initiate, who drew the milky breast of the hostile goddess Tropaea, and stole the belt and roused a double feud, taking away the girdle and from Themiscyra carrying off the archer Orthosia; and her sisters, the maidens of Neptunis, left Eris, Lagmus and Telamus and the stream of Thermodon and the hill of Actaeum to seek vengeance and relentless rape. Across the dark Ister they drove their Scythian mares, shouting their battle-cry against the Greeks and the descendants of Erechtheus. And they sacked all Acte with the spear and laid waste with fire the fields of Mopsopia.

[1341] And my ancestor laid waste the plain of Thrace and the country of the Eordi and the land of the Galadraei, and fixed his bounds beside the waters of Peneius, fettering them with a stern yoke laid upon their necks, in battle a young warrior, most eminent of his race. And she in return for these things sent her champion, the driver of the oxen, him of the six ships, robed in a hide, and laid in ruins with the spade their steep hill; and him shall Gorgas, changing her mind, consecrate in the estate of the gods, even she that was the prime mover in his woes.

[1351] And in turn the falcons set forth from Tmolus and Cimpsus and the gold-producing streams of Pactolus and the waters of the lake where the spouse of Typhon couches in the hidden recess of her dread bed, and rioted into Ausonian Agylla and in battles of the spear joined terrible wrestling with the Ligurians and them who drew the root of their race from the blood of the Sithonian giants. And they took Pisa and subdued all the spear-won land that stands near the Umbrians and the high cliffs of the Salpians.

[1362] And, last, the fire-brand wakens the ancient strife, kindling anew with flame the ancient fire that already slept since she saw the Pelasgians dipping alien pitchers in the waters of Rhyndacus. But the other in turn in a frenzy of revenge shall repay the injury threefold and fourfold, laying waste the shore of the land across the sea.

[1369] First there shall come a Zeus who bears the name of Zeus Lapersios; who shall come with swooping thunderbolt to burn all the habitations of the foe. With him shall I die, and when I flit among the dead I shall hear these further things which I am about to utter.

[1374] And, second, the son of him that was slain in a net, like a dumb fish, shall lay waste with fire the alien land, coming, at the bidding of the oracles of the Physician, with a host of many tongues.

[1378] And third, the son of the woodcutter king, beguiling the potter maiden of Branchidae to give him in his need earth mixed with water, wherewith to set on a tablet his finger-seal, shall found the mountain monarchy of the Phtheires, when he has destroyed the host of the Carians – the first to fight for hire – what time his wanton daughter shall abuse her nakedness and say in mockery of marriage that she will conclude her nuptials in the brothels of barbarians.

[1388] And then, again, the fourth, of the seed of Dymas, the Codrus-ancients of Lacmon and Cyrita – who shall dwell in Thigros and the hill of Satnion and the extremity of the peninsula of him who of old was utterly hated by the goddess Cyrita: the father of the crafty vixen who by daily traffic assuaged the raging hunger of her sire – even Aethon, plougher of alien shires.

[1397] And the Phrygian, avenging the blood of his brothers, will sack again the land that nursed the ruler of the dead, who in loveless wise pronounces relentless judgement on the departed. He shall spoil the ears of the ass, lobes and all, and deck his temples, fashioning a terror for the ravenous blood-suckers. By him all the land of Phlegra shall be enslaved and the ridge of Thrambus and spur of Titon by the sea and the plains of the Sithonians and the fields of Pallene, which the ox-horned Brychon, who served the giants, fattens with his waters.

[1409] And many woes, on this side and that alternately, shall be taken as an offering by Candaeus or Mamertus – or what name should be given to him who banquets in gory battles?

[1412] Yet the mother of Epimetheus shall not yield but in return for all shall send a single giant of the seed of Perseus, who shall walk over the sea on foot and sail over the earth, smiting the dry land with the oar. And the shrines of Laphria Mamerse shall be consumed with fire together with their defence of wooden walls, and shall blame for their hurt the prater of oracles, the false prophesying lackey of Pluto. By his unapproachable host every fruit-bearing oak and wild tree flourishing on the mountain shall be devoured, stripping off its double covering of bark, and every flowing torrent shall be dried up, as they slake with open mouth their black thirst. And they shall raise overhead clouds of arrows hurtling from afar, whose shadow shall obscure the sun, like a Cimmerian darkness dimming the sun. And blooming for a brief space, as a Locrian rose, and burning all things like withered ear of corn, he shall in his turn taste of homeward flight, glancing fearfully towards the oaken bulwark hard at hand, even as a girl in the dusky twilight frightened by a brazen sword.

[1434] And many contests and slaughters in between shall solve the struggles of men, contending for dread empire, now on land, now on the plough-turned backs of earth, until a tawny lion – sprung from Aeacus and from Dardanus, Thesprotian at once and Chalastraean – shall lull to rest the grievous tumult, and, overturning on its face all the house of his kindred, shall compel the chiefs of the Argives to cower and fawn upon the wolf-leader of Galadra, and to hand over the sceptre of the ancient monarchy. With him, after six generations, my kinsman, an unique wrestler, shall join battle by sea and land and come to terms, and shall be celebrated among his friends as most excellent, when he has received the first fruits of the spear-won spoils.

[1451] Why, unhappy, do I call to the unheeding rocks, to the deaf wave, and to the awful glades, twanging the idle noise of my lips? For Lepsieus has taken credit from me, daubing with rumour of falsity my words and the true prophetic wisdom of my oracles, for that he was robbed of the bridal which he sought to win. Yet will he make my oracles true. And in sorrow shall many a one know it, when there is no means any more to help my fatherland and shall praise the frenzied swallow.

[1461] So much she spake, and then sped back and went within her prison. But in her heart she wailed her latest Siren song – like some Mimallon of Claros or babbler of Melancraera, Neso’s daughter, or Phician monster, mouthing darkly her perplexed words. And I came, O King, to announce to thee this the crooked speech of the maiden prophetess, since thou didst appoint me to be the warder of her stony dwelling and didst charge me to come as a messenger to report all to thee and truly recount her words. But may God turn her prophecies to fairer issue – even he that cares for thy throne, preserving the ancient inheritance of the Bebryces.

THE END

  ALEXANDRA W/ NOTES 1 >>
 
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