Classical Texts Library >> Nonnus, Dionysiaca >> Book 4




Love of Zeus & Europa
Typhoeus & Cadmus


Battle of Zeus & Typhoeus


Cadmus on Samothrace


Winning of Harmonia
The Founding of Thebes


Wedding of Harmonia
Death of Actaeon


Birth & Death of Zagreus
The Great Deluge


Love of Zeus & Semele


Death of Semele


Birth & Fostering of Dionysus
Madness of Ino


Madness of Athamas
Love of Dionysus & Ampelus


Death of Ampelus
Love of Calamus & Carpus


Tablets of Phanes
Discovery of Wine


Human Army of Dionysus


Divine Army of Dionysus

BOOKS 15 - 48


Tracking the fourth over the deep, you will see Harmonia sailing together with her agemate Cadmos.

[1] With these words, Finerod Hermes departed, fanning his light wings, and the flat of his extended shoes oared him as quick as the winds of heaven in their course. Nor did the Thracian lady, the pilot of the Cabeiroi,1 <disobey his bidding>; but she had respect for Zeus, and curving her extended fingers with a significant movement towards Ares’ unwedded daughter, she beckoned Harmonia by this clever imitation of speech.2 The other strained the answering gleam from her eyelids, and saw the round of Electra’s face unsmiling, as he cheeks like silent heralds boded the heavy load of a new unspoken distress.

[12] The maiden leapt up and followed her mother into her high-built chamber. Her mother rolled back the bolt of a sevennookshotten chamber sealed with many seals, and crossed the doorstone: her knees trembled restlessly in loving anxiety and fear. She caught and lifted the girl’s hand and rosy arm with her own snow-white hand – you might almost say that you saw white-armed Hera holding Hebe’s hand.

[20] But when treading the floor with her crimson shoes she reached the farthest curve of the resplendent room. Atlas’s daughter seated the sorrowful maiden upon a handsome chair; then she in her turn sank upon a silver-shining stool, and declared Cronion’s message to the incredulous girl, and explained everything which she had heard from the Olympian herald disguised as a land in human form. When the maiden heard of this marriage of much wandering and this unstable husband, this homeless man under their roof, she declared she would have no stranger, and refused all that Cadmos’s patron proposed on Zeus his father’s behalf, that cattle-drover Hermes! She would rather have one of her own city as husband, and away with a carryhouse mate and a wedding without wedding-gifts! Then clasping her foster-mother’s hand with her own sorrowing palm, bathed in tears she burst into reproachful speech:

[36] “Mother mine, what has possessed you to cast off your own girl? Do you join your own daughter to some upstart fellow like this? What gift will this sailor man put into my hand? Will he give me the ship’s hawser for bride-price? I did not know you were keeping your own child, the poor banished maiden, for marriage with a vagrant – you, my kind nurse! I have others to woo me, and better ones, of our own city: why must I have a bedfellow with empty hands, naked and bare, a foreign vagrant, a runaway from his father? But you will say he helped your husband Cronion. Why did not the man get from Zeus an Olympian gift of honour, if indeed he was defender of Olympos, as you say? Why did not Hera the consort of Zeus, betroth virgin Hebe to the champion of Zeus? Your husband Zeus who rules in the heights needs no Cadmos. Cronides forgive me – divine Hermes lied in what he said about Father Zeus. I don’t know how I can believe that he neglected furious Ares the pilot of warfare, and called in a mortal man to be partner in the game – he the master of world and sky! Here is a great marvel – he locked up all those Titans in the pit, and then wanted Cadmos, to destroy only one! You know how my father’s wedded – two had their sisters. Zeus my father’s father possessed the bed of his sister Hera, by the family rule of marriage; both the parents of Harmonia, Ares and Cythereia, who mounted one bed, were of one father, another pair of blood-kindred. What miserable necessity! Sisters may have a brother for bedfellow, I must have a banished man!”

[64] As she spoke, her mother in distress wiped the raindrops from that mourning face: torn between two, she pitied Harmonia and shrank from the threats of Zeus.

[67] But now tricky-minded Aphrodite girt her body in the heart-bewitching cestus-belt, and clothing herself in the loverobe of Persuasion she entered Harmonia’s fragrant chamber. She had doffed her heavenly countenance, and put on a form like Peisinoë, a girl of the neighbourhood. As though in love with Cadmos and suffering from some hidden sickness, with but little brightness in her pale face, she chased away the maids; and when Harmonia was alone she sat by her side and said as in shame with deceitful tongue:

[77] “Happy girl! What a handsome stranger you have in the house! What a man to court you, most blessed of women! What a lovely bedfellow you will see, that no other maiden has won! Surely his blood comes from Assyria! That must be his home, beside the river of that enchanting Adonis, for that lovely young man came from Libanos where Cythereia dances. No, I was wrong! I don’t suppose any mortal womb bred Cadmos; no, he is sprung from Zeus and he has concealed his stock! I know where this young Olympian comes from. If Titan Atlas ever begat Electra as Maia’s sister, here’s cousin Herems without wings come as husband for Harmonia. Then that’s why we sing hymns to Cadmilos!3 He has only changed his heavenly shape and still he is called Cadmos.4 Or if he is some other god in human shape, perhaps Apollo is Emathion’s guest in this house.

[92] “World-famed maiden, you are more blessed than your mother for Olympian desire and Olympian marriage! Here is a great marvel! Zeus Allwise wedded Electra in secret – Apollo himself woos Harmonia in the light! Happy girl, whom Far-shooter desired! I only wish Apollo would be as eager for marriage with Peisinoë too! I don’t say no to Apollo, like Daphne, I can tell you! I will not feel like Harmonia! No, I will leave my inheritance and house and the parents whom I love – I will go on my travels to marriage with Apollo! I remember once a carving like him. For I once went with our father into the house of oracle, and there I saw the Pythian image; and when I saw your vagrant, I thought I saw the statue of Phoibos again in this place.

[106] “But you will say, Phoibos has a goldgleaming diadem. Cadmos is gold in all his body! If you like, take all my serfs innumerable – for him, I will put in your hands all my gold and silver, I will give royal robes of the Tyrian Sea, and the house of my fathers, if you like; accept, if I dare to say it, my father and mother too, accept all my waiting-women, and give me only this man for my bedfellow!

[114] “Maiden, why do you tremble? You will sail the seas in the spring-time across the narrow water – but with lovely Cadmos I will traverse the infinite Ocean stream in winter! Tremble not at the heavyrumbling briny swell, because love’s cargo will be kept safe on the brine by Aphrodite daughter of the brine. Maiden, you have Cadmos, seek not the throne of Olympos! I desire not the shining Eyrthraean stone of the Indies,5 nor the all-golden tree of the Hesperides, I delight not in the amber of the Heliades,6 so much as one shadowy night in which this vagrant shall hold Peisinoë in his arms. If you fetch your lineage from Ares, from Aphrodite, your provident mother has found you a marriage well worthy of theirs. I have never beheld such a flower; spring itself blooms in Cadmos by nature’s gift. I have seen his rosefinger hand, I have seen his glance distilling sweet honey; the cheeks of his lovebegetting face are red as roses; his feet go twinkling, ruddybrown in the middle, and changing colour at the ends into shining snow7; his arms are lilywhite. I will pass the hair, or I may provoke Phoibos by blaming the hue of his Therapnaian iris.8 Whenever he moved his full eyes with their heart-gladdening glance, there was the full moon shining with sparkling light; when he shook his hair and bared his neck, there appeared the morning star! I would not speak of his lips; but Persuasion dwells in his mouth, the ferry of the Loves, and pours out honey-sweet speech. Aye, the Graces manage his whole body: hands and fingers I shrink to judge, or I may find fault with the whiteness of milk.

[143] “Accept me for your companion, unhappy me! but if I touch the boy’s right hand and stroke his tunic I may find comfortable physic for my secret sickness. I may see his neck bare, or press a finger as if unconsciously while he sits; I could gladly die, if he would only slip a willing hand into the orb of my bosom and press my two breasts, and hold his closed lips upon my lips to delight me with brushing kisses. But if I could still hold the boy in my arms, I will pass even to Acheron the River of Pain of my own free will, and with rapture even amid the many lamentations of all-forgetting Lethe. I will tell the dead of my fate, to awaken pity and envy alike in merciless Persephoneia; I will teach those grace-breathing kisses to women unhappy in love who died of that lovely fire, I will make the dead jealous, if women still grudge at the Paphian9 in Lethe after their doom.

[160] “I will go with you if you wish, even as your companion, I tremble not before unfamiliar wanderings. Hard-hearted girl, become the lawful wife to Cadmos; I would be chambermaid to you both, Harmonia and husband. – But again I tremble before you, lest some time I awaken anger and jealousy for your bed tho’ you fain would hide it, since even Hera, goddess thou she is and queen of the heavens, grudges Zeus his bastard wives on earth. She was angry with Europa and tormented the wandering Io; she spared not even goddesses; because his mother was angry, Ares persecuted Leto with child in her birthpangs. If you are not jealous to find me a physic for my desire, give me this bedfellow for one dawn, yes I beseech you, for the course of one night too; if you grudge it, kill me with your own hand, that I may know rest from carrying this always night and day, fed on the secret places of my heart, this mighty implacable fire!”

[177] She said her say, and with her girdle drove bedshy Harmonia to her voyage, stung as with a gadfly, and now obedient to desire. She changed her mind, and with divided purpose wished both to have the stranger and to live in her own land. So smitted to the heart with the sting, she spoke:

[182] “Ah me, who ahs changed my heart? Save you, my country! Farewell, Emathion and all my house! Farewell grottoes of the Cabeiroi and Corybantian cliffs; never again shall I see the revelling companies of my mother’s Hecate with their torches in the night. Farewell, maidenhood, I wed my sweet Cadmos! Artemis, be not shocked, I am to cross the swell of the blue brine. But you will say, the deep is pitiless; I care nothing for the maddened surges – let Harmonia and Cadmos drown together, and my mother’s sea10 may receive us both. I follow my boy, calling upon the goddesses who have wedded theirs! If my bedfellow carries me to the sunrise this voyage, I will proclaim how Orion loved Dawn, and I will recall the match of Cephalos11; if I go to the misty sunset, my comfort is Selene herself who felt the same for Endymion upon Latmos.” 12

[197] Such words the girl uttered in mindwandering plaints, and could not be restrained, her mind ravaged with the sting of desire. With drops of grief her face was wet as she kissed Electra’s hand and eyes, her feet and head and breast, and Emathion’s eyes, with shamefast lips although he was her brother. She embraced all her handmaids, and caressed lamenting the rows of the lifeless carven doors all round, her bed and the walls of her maiden chamber.13 Last the girl took up and kissed the dust of her country’s soil.

[207] And then Electra took Harmonia by the hand, under the witnessing escort of the gods, and took her undowered to Cadmos as his due, wiping the streaming shower from her face. Early in the morning the traveller received the Cyprian’s daughter with an old waiting-woman, and left the house, having as the queen’s gift a servant to guide him through the city to the sea.

[213] When the Moon saw the girl following a stranger alone the shore above the sea, and boiling under fiery constraint, she reproached Cypris in mocking words: “So you make war even upon your children, Cypris! Not even the fruit of your womb is spared by the goad of love! Don’t you pity the girl you bore, hardheart? What other girl can you pity then, when you drag your own child into passion? – Then you must go wandering too, my darling. Say to your mother, Paphian’s child, ‘Phaëthon14 mocks you, and Selene puts me to shame.’ Harmonia, love-tormented exile, leave to Mene her bridegroom Endymion, and care for your vagrant Cadmos. Be ready to endure as much trouble as I have, and when you are wary with lovebegetting anxiety, remember lovewounded Selene.”

[226] While she was speaking, Cadmos hastened his companions over the shore. He released the back-running hawsers of the forthfaring ship, and shook out the sail to the mild spring breeze, and guided the timbered sea-car across the sea-swell, making the two ropes fast to a pin bracing the sheets equally shipshape and Phoinician fashion: for he knew from his fathers the traditional art of seamanship. He remained by the steering-oar, but he kept the girl Harmonia untouched sitting on the poop, his companion, when he saw strangers coming aboard as passengers whom the sailors were then taking in with the fare. One of the passengers seeing these two, mingled his voice with admiration as he said gently: “That sailor looks like Love himself! An no wonder that Aphrodite of the sea has a mariner son. But Eros carries bow and arrow and lifts a firebrand, he’s a little one with wings on him; and this I see is a Sidonian ketch. Perhaps that is the cunning old thief Ares sitting on the poop, and carrying Aphrodite into Libanos, from Thrace, whence he sailed last night. Be gracious, mother of Love! Send me a following wind in a waveless calm over your mother sea stormless!”

[247] Such was the sort of things the travellers said to himself, looking keenly at Harmonia out of the corner of his eye.

[249] So Cadmos finished his voyage to Hellas, with the inspired voice in his mind stinging like a gadfly; and the inspired word of Zeus ever ran unerring in his ears and dove him on. There he was to present newer gifts to All Hellenes, and to make them forget the lifebringing art of Danaos15 the master-mischiefmaker, Danaos the waterbringer: for what good did he do for the Achaians, if once he had dug the ground with his brazen pickaxes, and pecking at the flooded hollow of the gaping earth quenched the thirst of Argos? if he made wet the steppings of their feet for his dusty people, and brought up a streamlet from the deep caves – the stranger’s gift of water?

[260] But Cadmos brought gifts of voice and thought for all Hellas; he fashioned tools to echo the sounds of the tongue, he mingled sonant and consonant16 in one order of connected harmony. So he rounded off a graven model of speaking silence; for he had learnt the secrets of his country’s sublime art, an outside intruder into the wisdom of Egypt, while Agenor dwelt nine years in Memphis and founded hundred-gated Thebes.17 There he pressed out the milk of the holy books ineffable, scratched their scratches across with backfaring hand18 and traced their rounded circles. And he showed forth the Euian secrets of Osiris the wanderer, the Egyptian Dionysos.19 He learned the nightly celebration of their mystic art, and declaimed the magic hymn in the wild secret language, intoning a shrill alleluia. While a boy in the temple full of stone images, he had come to know the inscriptions caved by artists deep into the walls. With much-pondering thought he had measured the flaming arch of the innumerable stars, and learnt the sun’s course and the measure of the earth, turning the intertwined fingers of his flexible hand.20 He understood the changing circuits of the moon as he comes back and back again – how she changes her returning shape in three circles, new-shining, half-moon, and gleaming with full face; how her splendour now touching, now shrinking back, at the male furnace of father Helios is brought to birth without a mother, as she filches the father’s selfbegotten fire ever lighted again.

[285] Such was Cadmos. Quickly he set out for the Achaian cities, and left his seafaring. With Harmonia, he conveyed a swarm of seawandering companions turned travellers by land, in horsecarriages and laden wagons, on the way to the oracular sanctuaries. Then he reached Delphi, and asked an oracle from the midnipple axle21 of never-silent Pytho; and the Pythian axle speaking of himself uttered oracles of sense,22 resounding about in hollow tone:

[293] “Cadmos, in vain you travel round and round with wandering steps. You seek a bull which now cow ever calved; you seek a bull which no mortal knows how to find. Renounce Assyria, and take an earthly cow to guide your mission; search not for a bull of Olympos. Europa’s bridegroom no drover knows how to drive; he frequents no pasture, no meadow, obeys no goad, is ordered by no whip. He knows how to bear the dainty harness of Cypris, not the plow’s yokeband; he strains his neck for Love alone, and not for Demeter. No, let pass your regret for your Tyrian father, and abide among foreigners; found a city with the name of Egyptian Thebes your home, in the place where the cow of fortune shall sink and rest her heavyknee foot.”

[307] So speaking he lulled the tripods’ wild voice: the ridges of Parnassos quaked, when they heard the noise of their neighbour Phoibos; Castalia marked it, and her inspired water bubbled in oracular rills.

[311] The god spoke: and Cadmos gave place. Near the temple he saw a cow, and went beside her as she walked. His men followed, and made sparing pace, equal to the slow-obeying hoof of the unerring cow, sedulous servants. On the way, Cadmos espied from the road a sacred place conspicuous; the place where the Pythian hand noticed on a hill the ninecircling coil of the dragon’s back, and put to sleep the deadly poison of the Cirrhaian23 serpent. Then the wanderer left the heads of Parnassos and trod the neighbouring soil of Daulis, whence comes the tale I hear of the dumb woespinner Philomela and her talking dress, whom Tereus defiled, when Hera, queen of wedlock, turned her back on the wedding among the mountains with no wedding dances; how the girl mourned over the undecked pallet of the bridebed on the common road; how the girl tongue-shorn bewailed this Thracian rape; and how voiceless Echo copied her tears and groaned too, bewailing the bedshy maiden Philomela, as the blood of her maidenhood ran mingling with the red stream from her new-severed tongue.24

[331] He saw too the city of Tityos, where that bold son of Earth marching through the fair-leafy woods of Panopeus lifted the sacred robe of Leto and attempted violence.25 He set a footstep on Tanagra bottom; and passing from Coroneia to the soil of Haliartos, he came near to the city of Thespiai, and Plataiai in its deep ravines, and Aonia on the Boitoian ground. This is the place where Orion26 the lovesick son of Earth was brought low, great as he was, by the Scorpion, who came to help the hard-hearted Archeress: he was in the act of lifting the lowest edge of the tunic of the unmated goddess, when crawling slow came that earthly horror, hit his adversary’s heal and pierced it with freezing sting.

[344] He traversed the land of Chaironeia, where the cow’s hoof was whitened in cutting the silvery dust, and following the many winding circuits of the rocky path it shook off the white dirt from its dusty feet. Then the oracular hoof of the cow gave way, and she sank to the ground foretelling the city to be. Now that the divine utterance out of the Pythian cave was fulfilled, Cadmos brought the sacred cow beside an altar smoking with incense, and sought for a rill of spring water, that he might cleanse his ministering hands and pour the pure water over the sacrifice; for as yet there were no wineplanted gardens to show the delicate fruit of their ripening crop.

[356] He stayed his feet beside dragonbreeding Dirce27: and stood amazed when he saw the speckleback serpent, Ares’ child, appear from one side and girdle the spring with snaky coil. The serpent scared away the great company who followed Cadmos, biting tone under the chest with his flashing jaws, rending another with a stroke of bloody tooth, tearing another’s lifesaving liver when he showed fight and laying him dead: a rough mane slipping out of the dank head ran down disorderly over his neck. Another he scared leaping above the man’s temples, ran up another’s chin irresistible to strike his eye with poison-shooting dew, and darkened the sparkling gleam of the closing orb. One he caught by the foot and held it in his jaws, tearing it with his bite – spat out green foam from his teeth upon the lad’s body, and the greenish poison froze the body livid like steel. Another panted under the strokes of the jaws, and the membranes of the brain billowed throbbing out of the head at the poisonous bite, while a stream of matter ran down through the drenched nostrils out of the melting brain.

[365] Then quickly the dragon curled round Cadmos, creeping up his legs, and bound him in dangerous bonds; then raising his body high above him with a mounting lurch of his limbs, darted at the round midnipple of his oxhide shield. The man with his legs enclosed by those slanting rings was exhausted by the heavy weight of the long trailing snake – a horrible burden! but the wearied bearer still stood upright, until the serpent dragged him to the ground and opened his cruel mouth – the monster gaped, and the bloody portal of his raw-ravening throat yawned wide: he turned his head sideways, and with shaking hood curved his neck backwards stretched high over the middle of his coils.

[389] But when Cadmos was nearly exhausted, Athena came near, shaking the aegis-cape with the Gorgon’s head and snaky hair, the forecast of coming victory; and the nation-mustering deity cried aloud to the dumbfounded man –

[393] “Cadmos, helpmate and ally of Zeus Giantslayer in the battle! Are you afraid when you see only one snake? In those battles Cronion trusted in you, and brought low Typhon with all that shock of heads, and every one a snake! Tremble no more at the hiss from the creature’s teeth. Pallas bids you on! Brazen Ares shall not save his reptile guardian beside murderous Dirce. But when he is killed, take the creature’s horrible teeth, sow the ground all about with the snaky corn, reap the viperous harvest of warrior giants, join the battalions of the Earthborn in one common destruction, and leave only five living: let the crop of the Sown28 sprout up to glorious fruitage for Thebes that shall be.”

[406] With these words Athena encouraged the discomfited Cadmos, and then she cleft the aery deeps with windswift foot, until she entered the house of Zeus. But Cadmos where he stood on the dry earth lifted a well-rounded boundary-stone of the broad farm-land, a rocky missile! and with a straight cast of the stone smashed the top of the dragon’s head; then drawing a whetted knife from his thigh he cut through the monster’s neck. The hood severed from the body lay apart, but the tail still moved, rolling in the dust until it had uncoiled again its familiar rings. There lay the dragon stretched on the ground, dead, and over the corpse furious Ares shouted in heavy anger. By his wrath Cadmos was destined to change his limbs for a curling shape, and to have a strange aspect of dragon’s countenance at the ends of the Illyrian country.29

[421] But that was ordained for long after. Now he gathered the fruit of death inside a helmet of bronze, the grim harvest of the creature’s jaws. Then he drew upon the land the humped plow of Pallas from her holy place in those parts, and plowed a battle-breeding furrow in the bright earth, and sowed long lines of the poison-casting teeth. There grew out the self-delivered crop of giants: one shot up with head high, shaking the top of a mailcoated breast; one with jutting head stretched a horrid shoulder over the opening earth; another bent forward above ground as far as the midnipple, one again rose on the ground half-finished and lifted a soil-grown shield; another shook a nodding plume before him and showed not yet his chest; while still creeping up slowly from his mother’s flanks he showed fight against fearless Cadmos, clad in armour he was born in. O what a great miracle! Eileithyia armed him whom the mother had not yet spawned! And there was one who cast his brother-spear,30 fumbling and half-visible; one who lightly drew the whole body into the light, but left his toes unfinished sticking in the ground.

[441] Cadmos for all that did not neglect Athena’s injunction. He reaped the stubble of giants springing up ever anew. One he struck with windswift spear over the breast, hit one on the broad neck by the collarbone shearing the bones of the hairy throat: another he tore with hurtling stone while he sowed as far as the belly. The blood of the dreadful giants flowed in rivers; Ares slipt in the gore staining his limbs with crimson, and Victory’s robe was reddened with purple drops while she stood beside the battle. Another showed fight, and Cadmos ran his sword through his cognate shield of oxhide, into the hipjoint and out at the small of his back. The slaughter stayed not: as the giants were cut and smitten with the sword, a deadly spout of bloody dew bubbled up.

[455] Then by the wise counsel of Pallas he lifted a stone high above the giants’ heads; and they drunken with gory lust for Enyo, went wild with warlike fury and destroyed each other with the steel of their cousin,31 and found burial in the dust. One fought with another: with ruddy gore the surface of the shield was drenched and spotted and darkened, as a giant died; the crop of that field was shorn by the brother-murdering blade of an earthgrown knife.32

1. Because she was queen of Samothrace, of which the Cabeiroi are the gods.
2. The Eastern mode of beckoning; not with one finger upwards, by the whole hand extended, palm downwards, with a forward and downward movement.
3. Son of Hephaistos and Cabeiroi, and father of the Cabeiroi in Samothrace; sometimes identified with Hermes, e.g. Lycophron 162.
4. Cadmos = Cadmilos = Hermes, cf. Lycophron 219.
5. Perhaps the ruby, perhaps pearls from the Persian Gulf or Indian Ocean.
6. Sisters of Phaëthon, whose tears were amber.
7. i.e. white where the sandals protect them, brownish-red above the instep. The effeminate prettiness of Cadmos here is in accordance with the degenerate taste of the day.
8. i.e. Cadmos has something better than the traditional (Hom. Od. vi. 231; xxiii. 158) “hyacinthine” locks.
9. Aphrodite.
10. Aphrodite came out of the sea.

11. Eos, the Dawn-goddess, loved Orion the giant hunter (see below, 338) and carried him off; they had a son Phaëthon, who became an attendant of Aphrodite. She had a similar affair with the Attic hero Cephalos.
12. Endymion of Latmos was a handsome shepherd whom the Moon-goddess loved. For some reason (accounts vary) he was cast into a perpetual sleep. (See below, 222.)
13. See Medeia’s farewells, Apoll. Rhod. iv. 26; the ultimate source is perhaps Euripides, Alc. 175 ff.
14. Here the Sun. It was Helios who saw the loves of Ares and Aphrodite and told Hephaistos: Hom. Od. viii. 270.
15. For some obscure reason Danaos and his daughters are commonly connected with water. One of them, Amymone, seems to be originally the nymph of a fountain in the Argolid.
16. Azuga and suzuga seem to be a paraphrase of vowel and consonant, those which exist unjoined and those which must be joined.
17. Egyptian Thebes.
18. The earliest Greek writing, like the Phoenician, went from right to left.
19. Osiris is very commonly identified with Dionysos, especially in Hellenistic times.
20. He made the numbers with his fingers as he reckoned them; the ancients had an elaborate system of finger-signs, something like our deaf-and-dumb alphabets, but used for numerals only.

21. Supposed to be the central point of the earth.
22. Usually the priestess spoke unintelligible sounds, which the priest interpreted.
23. Loosely for “Delphic,” Cirrha being the harbour-town below Delphi.
24. Pandion, king of Athens, had two daughters, Procne and Philomela. Tereus, king of the Thracians, who then occupied Daulis, married Procne, and after a while sent a message to Athens to say she was dead and to invite Philomela to come to him. On her arrival he raped her, and then cut out her tongue and imprisoned her, to prevent her complaining to her sister. But she managed to send Procne a woven cloth with the whole story embroidered on it. Procne fetched her; the two sisters killed Tereus’s and Procne’s son Itys, and served him up to his father at dinner. On discovering this, Tereus pursued both women to kill them; the gods intervened and he was changed into a hoopoe, Procne into a nightingale, Philomela into a swallow (Latin authors generally reverse these two metamorphoses), and Itys, in some late accounts, into a bird of some kind, perhaps a wood-pigeon.
25. Tityos attacked Leto soon after the birth of Apollo and Artemis. Apollo came to her rescue and killed him with his arrows.

26. Orion is connected with Boeotia in sundry stories. He offended Artemis either in the way here described or by boasting of his prowess in hunting; Earth sent a huge scorpion which killed him with its sting. Finally he became the constellation which bears his name.
27. A stream near Thebes.
28. The Theban aristocracy were called Spartoi from this legend.
29. After a long life he and Harmonia went to Illyria and were changed to serpents (i.e., live for ever as powers of the underworld).
30. Because he and the spear were born together.
31. Like cognate shield and brother spear.
32. For the model of this passage, see Apoll. Rhod. iii. 1354 ff.