Classical Texts Library >> Ovid, Metamorphoses >> Book 5




1. Creation
2. Four Ages of Man
3. Lycaon
4. Great Deluge
5. Python
6. Daphne & Apollo
7. Io & Jupiter


1. Phaethon
2. Callisto & Jupiter
3. Coronis & Apollo
4. Ocyroe & Aesculapius
5. Battus & Mercury
6. Aglauros & Mercury
7. Europa & Jupiter


1. Cadmus & the Dragon
2. Actaeon
3. Semele & Jupiter
4. Tiresias
5. Narcissus & Echo
6. Pentheus & Bacchus
7. Tyrrhenian Pirates & Bacchus


1. The Minyades
2. Pyramus & Thisbe
3. Mars & Venus
4. Leucothea & Clytie
5. Hermaphroditus
6. Athamas & Ino
7. Cadmus & Harmonia
8. Perseus & Atlas
9. Perseus & Andromeda


1. Perseus & Phineus
2. Pyreneus & the Muses
3. The Pierides & the Muses
4. Pluto & Proserpine
5. Arethusa & Alpheus
6. Triptolemus & Lyncus


1. Arachne & Minerva
2. Niobe
3. Leto & the Lycians
4. Marsyas
5. Tereus & Philomela
6. Orithyia & Boreas


1. Jason & Medea
2. Medea & Aeson
3. Medea & Pelias
4. Medea & Aegeus
5. Aeacus & the Myrmidones
6. Cephalus & Procris


1. Minos & Scylla
2. Daedalus & Icarus
3. Calydonian Boar Hunt
4. Althaea & Meleager
5. Perimela & Achelous
6. Baucis & Philemon
7. Erysichthon & Mestra


1. Hercules & Achelous
2. Nessus & Death of Hercules
3. Galanthis
4. Dryope
5. Iolaus
6. Byblis & Caunus
7. Iphis & Ianthe


1. Orpheus & Eurydice
2. Attis & Cybele
3. Cyparissus
4. Hyacinthus & Apollo
5. The Propoetides
6. Pygmalion
7. Myrrha & Cinyras
8. Atalanta & Hippomenes
9. Adonis


1. Death of Orpheus
2. Midas & Bacchus
3. Midas, Pan & Apollo
4. Hesione
5. Peleus & Thetis
6. Chione & Daedalion
7. Peleus & Psamathe
8. Ceyx & Halcyone
9. Aesacus & Hesperia


1. Agamemnon at Aulis
2. Cygnus & Achilles
3. Caeneus & the Centauromachy
4. Periclymenus & Hercules
5. Death of Achilles


1. Ajax & Ulysses
2. Hecuba & Polymnestor
3. Memnon
4. The Oenotrophi
5. Galatea & Polyphemus
6. Glaucus


1. Scylla & Circe
2. The Cercopes
3. The Cumaean Sibyl
4. Ulysses, Polyphemus & Circe
5. Picus & Circe
6. Diomedes in Italy
7. Aeneas in Latium
8. Vertumnus & Pomona
9. Iphis & Anaxarete
10. Romulus


1. Myscelus, Croton
2. Pythagoras
3. Egeria, Hippolytus
4. Tages, Cipus
5. Aesculapius in Rome
6. Julius Caesar



[1] While Perseus, the brave son of Jupiter, surrounded at the feast by Cepheus' lords, narrated this, a raging multitude with sudden outcry filled the royal courts—not with the clamours of a wedding feast but boisterous rage, portentous of dread war. As when the fury of a great wind strikes a tranquil sea, tempestuous billows roll across the peaceful bosom of the deep; so were the pleasures at the banquet changed to sudden tumult. Foremost of that throng, the rash ring-leader, Phineus, shook his spear, brass-tipped of ash, and shouted, “Ha, 'tis I! I come avenger of my ravished bride! Let now your flittering wings deliver you, or even Jupiter, dissolved in showers of imitation gold.” So boasted he, aiming his spear at Perseus. Thus to him cried Cepheus: “Hold your hand, and strike him not! What strange delusions, O my brother, have compelled you to this crime? Is it the just requital of heroic worth? A fair reguerdon for the life of her you loved? If truth were known, not Perseus ravished her from you; but, either 'twas the awful God that rules the Nereides; or Ammon, crowned with crescent horns; or that monstrosity of Ocean's vast abyss, which came to glut his famine on the issue of my loins. Nor was your suit abandoned till the time when she must perish and be lost to you. So cruel are you, seeking my daughter's death, rejoicing lightly in our deep despair.—And was it not enough for you to stand supinely by, while she was bound in chains, and offer no assistance, though you were her lover and betrothed? And will you grieve that she was rescued from a dreadful fate, and spoil her champion of his just rewards? Rewards that now may seem magnificent, but not denied to you if you had won and saved, when she was fettered to the rock. Let him, whose strength to my declining years restored my child, receive the merit due his words and deeds; and know his suit was not preferred to yours, but granted to prevent her certain death.”

[30] Not deigning to reply, against them Phineus stood; and glancing back from him to Perseus, with alternate looks, as doubtful which should feel his first attack, made brief delay. Then vain at Perseus hurled his spear, with all the force that rage inspired, but, missing him it quivered in a couch. Provoked beyond endurance Perseus leaped forth from the cushioned seats, and fiercely sent that outwrenched weapon back. It would have pierced his hostile breast had not the miscreant crouched behind the altars. Oh perverted good, that thus an altar should abet the wrong! But, though the craven Phineus escaped, not vainly flew the whizzing point, but struck in Rhoetus' forehead. As the barb was torn out of the bone, the victim's heels began to kick upon the floor, and spouting blood defiled the festal board. Then truly flame in uncontrolled rage the vulgar crowd, and hurl their harmful darts. And there are some who hold that Cepheus and his son-in-law deserved to die; but Cepheus had passed forth the threshold of his palace: having called on all the Gods of Hospitality and Truth and Justice to attest, he gave no comfort to the enemies of Peace. Unconquered Pallas is at hand and holds her Aegis to protect her brother's life; she lends him dauntless courage.

[47] At the feast was one from India's distant shores, whose name was Athis. It was said that Limnate, the daughter of the River Ganges, him in vitreous caverns bright had brought to birth; and now at sixteen summers in his prime, the handsome youth was clad in costly robes. A purple mantle with a golden fringe covered his shoulders, and a necklace, carved of gold, enhanced the beauty of his throat. His hair encompassed with a coronal, delighted with sweet myrrh. Well taught was he to hurl the javelin at a distant mark, and none with better skill could stretch the bow. No sooner had he bent the pliant horns than Perseus, with a smoking billet, seized from the mid-altar, struck him on the face, and smashed his features in his broken skull.

[59] And when Assyrian Lycabas had seen his dear companion, whom he truly loved, beating his handsome countenance in blood. And when he had bewailed his lost life, that ebbed away from that unpiteous wound, he snatched the bow that Athis used, and said; “Let us in single combat seek revenge; not long will you rejoice the stripling's fate; a deed most worthy shame.” So speaking, forth the piercing arrow bounded from the cord, which, though avoided, struck the hero's cloak and fastened in its folds.—Then Perseus turned upon him, with the trusted curving sword, cause of Medusa's death, and drove the blade deep in his breast. The dying victim's eyes, now swimming in a shadowous night, looked 'round for Athis, whom, beholding, he reclined upon, and ushered to the other world,—sad consolation of united death.

[74] And Phorbas the descendant of Methion. Who hailed from far Syene, with his friend Amphimedon of Libya, in their haste to join the battle, slipped up in the blood and fell together: just as they arose that glittering sword was driven through the throat of Phorbas into the ribs of his companion.

[79] But Erithus, the son of Actor, swung a battle-ax, so weighty, Perseus chose not combat with his curving blade. He seized in his two hands a huge bowl, wrought around with large design, outstanding from its mass. This, lifting up, he dashes on his foe, who vomits crimson blood, and falling back beats on the hard floor with his dying head. And next he slew Caucasian Abaris, and Polydaemon—from Semiramis nobly descended—and Sperchius, son, Lycetus, long-haired Elyces, unshorn, Clytus and Phlegias, the hero slew;—and trampled on the dying heaped around.

[89] Not daring to engage his enemy in open contest, Phineus held aloof, and hurled his javelin. Badly aimed—by some mischance or turned—it wounded Idas, who had followed neither side; vain-hoping thus to shun the conflict. Idas, filled with rage, on Phineus gazed with futile hate, and said, “Since I am forced unwilling to such deeds, behold, whom you have made your enemy, O savage Phineus! Let your recompense be stroke for stroke.” So speaking, from the wound he drew the steel, but, faint from loss of blood, before his arm could hurl the weapon back, he sank upon his knees.

[97] Here, also, lies Odytes (Hodites),—noblest of the Cephenes, save Cepheus only,—slaughtered by the sword of Clymenus. And Prothoenor lies the victim of Hypseus; by his side Hypseus slaughtered by Lyncidas falls. And in the midst of this destruction stood Emathion, now an aged man, revered, who feared the Gods, and stood for upright deeds. And, since his years denied him strength for war, he battled with his tongue, and railed, and cursed their impious weapons. As that aged man clings to the altar with his trembling hands, Chromis with ruthless sword cuts off his head, which straightway falls upon the altar, whence his dying tongue denounces them in words of execration: and his soul expires amid the altar flames.

[107] Then Broteas and Ammon, his twin brother, who not knew their equals at the cestus, by the hand of Phineus fell; for what avails in deed the cestus as a weapon matched with swords. Ampycus by the same hand fell,—the priest of Ceres, with his temples wreathed in white. And O, Iapetides not for this did you attend the feast! Your voice attuned melodious to the harp, was in request to celebrate the wedding-day with song,—a work of peace; as you did stand aside, holding the peaceful plectrum in your hand, the mocking Pettalus in ridicule said, “Go sing your ditties to the Stygian shades.” And, mocking thus, he drove his pointed sword in your right temple. As your limbs gave way, your dying fingers swept the tuneful strings: and falling you did chant a mournful dirge.—You to avenge enraged Lycormas tore a huge bar from the door-post, on the right, and dashing it against the mocker crushed his neck-bones: as a slaughtered bullock falls—he tumbled to the ground. Then on the left. Cinyphian Pelates began to wrench an oak plank from the door-post, but the spear of Corythus, the son of Marmarus, pinioned his right hand to the wooden post; and while he struggled Abas pierced his side.—He fell not to the floor, but dying hung suspended from the door-post by his hand.

[128] And of the friends of Perseus, Melaneus was slain, and Dorylas whose wealth was large in Nasamonian land. No other lord, as Dorylas, such vast estates possessed; no other owned so many heaps of corn. The missile steel stood fastened in his groin, obliquely fixed,—a fatal spot—and when the author of his wound, Halcyoneus the Bactrian, beheld his victim thus, rolling his eyes and sobbing forth his soul, he railed; “Keep for yourself of all your lands as much as you can cover.” And he left the bleeding corpse. But Perseus in revenge hurled after him a spear, which, in his need, he ripped out from the wound, yet warm, and struck the boaster on the middle of his nose. The piercing steel, passed through his nose and neck,—remained projecting from the front and back. And while good fortune helped his hand, he slew Clanis and Clytius, of one mother born, but with a different wound he slaughtered each: for, leveled by a mighty arm, his ashen spear drove through the thighs of Clytius, right and left, and Clanis bit the javelin with his teeth. And by his might, Mendesian Celadon and Atreus fell, his mother of the tribes of Palestine, his father was unknown. Aethion, also, who could well foresee the things to come, but was at last deceived by some false omen. And Thoactes fell, the armour-bearer of the king; and, next, the infamous Agyrtes who had slain his father.

[149] These he slew; and though his strength was nearly spent, so many more remained: for now the multitude with one accord conspired to slaughter him. From every side the raging troops assailed the better cause. In vain the pious father and the bride, together with her mother, fill the halls with lamentations; for the clash of arms, the groans of fallen heroes drown their cries.—Bellona in a sea of blood has drenched their Household Gods, polluted by these deeds, and she endeavours to renew the strife.

[157] Perseus, alone against that raging throng, is now surrounded by a myriad men, led on by Phineus; and their flying darts, as thick as wintry tail, are showered around on every side, grazing his eyes and ears.—Quickly he fixed his shoulder firm against the rock of a great pillar, which secured his back from danger, and he faced his foes, and baffled their attack. Upon his left Chaonian Molpeus pressed, and on his right a Nabathe an called Ethemon pressed.—As when a tiger from a valley hears the lowing of two herds, in separate fields, though hunger urges he not knows on which to spring, but rages equally for each; so, Perseus doubtful which may first attack his left or right, knows not on which to turn, but stands attentive witness to the flight of Molpeus, whom he wounded in the leg. Nor could he choose—Ethemon, full of rage, pressed on him to inflict a fatal wound, deep in his neck; but with incautious force struck the stone pillar with his ringing sword and shattered the metal blade, close to the hilt; the flying fragment pierced its owner's neck, but not with mortal wound. In vain he pled for mercy, stretching forth his helpless arms: Perseus transfixed him with his glittering blade, Cyllenian.

[177] But when he saw his strength was yielding to the multitude, he said, “Since you have forced disaster on yourselves, why should I hesitate to save myself?—O friends, avert your faces if ye stand before me!” And he raised Medusa,s head. Thescelus answered him; “Seek other dupes to chase with wonders!” Just as he prepared to hurl the deadly javelin from his hand, he stood, unmoving in that attitude, a marble statue. Ampyx, close to him, exulting in a mighty spirit, made a lunge to pierce Lyncides in the breast; but, as his sword was flashing in the air, his right arm grew so rigid, there he stood unable to draw back or thrust it forth. But Nileus, who had feigned himself begot by seven-fold Nile, and carved his shield with gold and silver streams, alternate seven, shouted; “Look, look! O Perseus, him from whom I sprung! And you shall carry to the silent shades a mighty consolation in your death, that you were slain by such a one as I.” But in the midst of boasting, the last words were silenced; and his open mouth, although incapable of motion, seemed intent to utter speech. Then Eryx, chiding says; “Your craven spirits have benumbed you, not Medusa's poison.—Come with me and strike this youthful mover of magician charms down to the ground.”—He started with a rush; the earth detained his steps; it held him fast; he could not speak; he stood, complete with arms, a statue.

[200] Such a penalty was theirs, and justly earned; but near by there was one, aconteus, who defending Perseus, saw medusa as he fought; and at the sight the soldier hardened to an upright stone.—Assured he was alive, Astyages now struck him with his long sword, but the blade resounded with a ringing note; and there, astonished at the sound, Astyages, himself, assumed that nature; and remained with wonder pictured on his marble face. And not to weary with the names of men, sprung from the middle classes, there remained two hundred warriors eager for the fight—as soon as they could see Medusa's face, two hundred warriors stiffened into stone.

[210] At last, repentant, Phineus dreads the war, unjust, for in a helpless fright he sees the statues standing in strange attitudes; and, recognizing his adherents, calls on each by name to rescue from that death. Still unbelieving he begins to touch the bodies, nearest to himself, and all are hard stone. Having turned his eyes away, he stretched his hands and arms obliquely back to Perseus, and confessed his wicked deeds; and thus imploring spoke; “Remove, I pray, O Perseus, thou invincible, remove from me that dreadful Gorgon: take away the stone-creating countenance of thy unspeakable Medusa! For we warred not out of hatred, nor to gain a throne, but clashed our weapons for a woman's sake.—Thy merit proved thy valid claim, and time gave argument for mine. It grieves me not to yield, O bravest, only give me life, and all the rest be thine.” Such words implored the craven, never daring to address his eyes to whom he spoke. And thus returned the valiant Perseus; “I will grant to you, O timid-hearted Phineus! as behoves your conduct; and it should appear a gift, magnanimous, to one who fears to move.—Take courage, for no steel shall violate your carcase; and, moreover, you shall be a monument, that ages may record your unforgotten name. You shall be seen thus always, in the palace where resides my father-in-law, that my surrendered spouse may soften her great grief when she but sees the darling image of her first betrothed.” He spoke, and moved Medusa to that side where Phineus had turned his trembling face: and as he struggled to avert his gaze his neck grew stiff; the moisture of his eyes was hardened into stone.—And since that day his timid face and coward eyes and hands, forever shall be guilty as in life.

[236] After such deeds, victorious Perseus turned, and sought the confines of his native land; together with his bride; which, having reached, he punished Proetus—who by force of arms had routed his own brother from the throne of Argos. By his aid Acrisius, although his undeserving parent, gained his citadels once more: for Proetus failed, with all his arms and towers unjustly held, to quell the grim-eyed monster, snake-begin. Yet not the valour of the youth, upheld by many labours, nor his grievous wrongs have softened you, O Polydectes! king of Little Seriphus; but bitter hate ungoverned, rankles in your hardened heart—there is no limit to your unjust rage. Even his praises are defamed by you and all your arguments are given to prove Medusa's death a fraud.—Perseus rejoined; “By this we give our true pledge of the truth, avert your eyes!” And by Medusa's face he made the features of that impious king a bloodless stone.


[250] Through all these mighty deeds Pallas, Minerva, had availed to guide her gold-begotten brother. Now she sped, surrounded in a cloud, from Seriphus, while Cynthus on the right, and Gyarus far faded from her view. And where a path, high over the deep sea, leads the near way, she winged the air for Thebes, and Helicon haunt of the Virgin Nine. High on that mount she stayed her flight, and with these words bespoke those well-taught sisters; “Fame has given to me the knowledge of a new-made fountain—gift of Pegasus, that fleet steed, from the blood of dread Medusa sprung—it opened when his hard hoof struck the ground.—It is the cause that brought me.—For my longing to have seen this fount, miraculous and wonderful, grows not the less in that myself did see the swift steed, nascent from maternal blood.” To which Urania thus; “Whatever the cause that brings thee to our habitation, thou, O goddess, art to us the greatest joy. And now, to answer thee, reports are true; this fountain is the work of Pegasus,” And having said these words, she gladly thence conducted Pallas to the sacred streams. And Pallas, after she had long admired that fountain, flowing where the hoof had struck, turned round to view the groves of ancient trees; the grottoes and the grass bespangled, rich with flowers unnumbered—all so beautiful she deemed the charm of that locality a fair surrounding for the studious days of those Mnemonian Maids.


[268] But one of them addressed her thus; “O thou whose valour gave thy mind to greater deeds! if thou hadst stooped to us, Minerva, we had welcomed thee most worthy of our choir! Thy words are true; and well hast thou approved the joys of art, and this retreat. Most happy would we be if only we were safe; but wickedness admits of no restraint, and everything affrights our virgin minds; and everywhere the dreadful Pyrenaeus haunts our sight;—scarcely have we recovered from the shock. That savage, with his troops of Thrace, had seized the lands of Daulis and of Phocis, where he ruled in tyranny; and when we sought the Temples of Parnassus, he observed us on our way;—and knowing our estate, pretending to revere our sacred lives, he said; `O Muses, I beseech you pause! Choose now the shelter of my roof and shun the heavy stars that teem with pouring rain; nor hesitate, for often the glorious Gods have entered humbler homes.’ Moved by his words, and by the growing storm, we gave assent, and entered his first house. But presently the storm abated, and the southern wind was conquered by the north; the black clouds fled, and soon the skies were clear. At once we sought to quit the house, but Pyrenaeus closed all means of exit,—and prepared to force our virtue. Instantly we spread our wings, and so escaped; but on a lofty tower he stood, as if to follow, and exclaimed; `A path for you marks out a way for me,' and quite insane, he leaped down from the top of that high tower.—Falling on his face, the bones were crushed, and as his life ebbed out the ground was crimsoned with his wicked blood.”


[294] So spoke the Muse. And now was heard the sound of pennons in the air, and voices, too, gave salutations from the lofty trees. Minerva, thinking they were human tongues, looked up in question whence the perfect words; but on the boughs, nine ugly magpies perched, those mockers of all sounds, which now complained their hapless fate. And as she wondering stood, Urania, goddess of the Muse, rejoined;—“Look, those but lately worsted in dispute augment the number of unnumbered birds.—Pierus was their father, very rich in lands of Pella; and their mother (called Evippe of Paeonia) when she brought them forth, nine times evoked, in labours nine, Lucina's aid.—Unduly puffed with pride, because it chanced their number equalled ours these stupid sisters, hither to engage in wordy contest, fared through many towns;—through all Haemonia and Achaia came to us, and said;—`Oh, cease your empty songs, attuned to dulcet numbers, that deceive the vulgar, untaught throng. If aught is yours of confidence, O Thespian Deities contend with us: our number equals yours. We will not be defeated by your arts; nor shall your songs prevail.—Then, conquered, give Hyantean Aganippe; yield to us the Medusean Fount;—and should we fail, we grant Emathia's plains, to where uprise Paeonia's peaks of snow.—Let chosen Nymphs award the prize—.’

[315] "'Twas shameful to contend; it seemed more shameful to submit. At once, the chosen Nymphs swore justice by their streams, and sat in judgment on their thrones of rock. At once, although the lot had not been cast, the leading sister hastened to begin.—She chanted of celestial wars; she gave the Giants false renown; she gave the Gods small credit for great deeds.—She droned out, `Forth, those deepest realms of earth, Typhoeus came, and filled the Gods with fear. They turned their backs in flight to Egypt; and the wearied rout, where Great Nile spreads his seven-channeled mouth, were there received. – Thither the earth-begot Typhoeus hastened: but the Gods of Heaven deceptive shapes assumed.—Lo, Jupiter, (As Libyan Ammon's crooked horns attest) was hidden in the leader of a flock; Apollo in a crow; Bacchus in a goat; Diana in a cat; Venus in a fish; Saturnian Juno in a snow-white cow; Cyllenian Hermes in an Ibis' wings.’—

[335] "Such stuff she droned out from her noisy mouth: and then they summoned us; but, haply, time permits thee not, nor leisure thee permits, that thou shouldst hearken to our melodies.” "Nay doubt it not,” quoth Pallas, “but relate your melodies in order.” And she sat beneath the pleasant shadows of the grove. And thus again Urania; “On our side we trusted all to one.” Which having said, Calliope arose. Her glorious hair was bound with ivy. She attuned the chords, and chanted as she struck the sounding strings:—


[341] “First Ceres broke with crooked plow the glebe; first gave to earth its fruit and wholesome food; first gave the laws;—all things of Ceres came; of her I sing; and oh, that I could tell her worth in verse; in verse her worth is due. “Because he dared to covet heavenly thrones Typhoeus, giant limbs are weighted down beneath Sicilia's Isle—vast in extent—how often thence he strains and strives to rise? But his right hand Pachynus holds; his legs are pressed by Lilybaeus, Aetna weights his head. Beneath that ponderous mass Typhoeus lies, flat on his back; and spues the sands on high; and vomits flames from his ferocious mouth. He often strives to push the earth away, the cities and the mountains from his limbs—by which the lands are shaken. Even the king, that rules the silent shades is made to quake, for fear the earth may open and the ground, cleft in wide chasms, letting in the day, may terrify the trembling ghosts. Afraid of this disaster, that dark despot left his gloomy habitation; carried forth by soot-black horses, in his gloomy car. He circumspectly viewed Sicilia's vast foundations.—Having well explored and proved no part was shattered; having laid aside his careful fears, he wandered in those parts.

[362] "Him, Venus, Erycina, in her mount thus witnessed, and embraced her winged son, and said, `O Cupid! thou who art my son—my arms, my hand, my strength; take up those arms, by which thou art victorious over all, and aim thy keenest arrow at the heart of that divinity whom fortune gave the last award, what time the triple realm, by lot was portioned out. The Gods of Heaven are overcome by thee; and Jupiter, and all the Deities that swim the deep, and the great ruler of the Water-Gods: why, then, should Tartarus escape our sway—the third part of the universe at stake—by which thy mother's empire and thy own may be enlarged according to great need. How shameful is our present lot in Heaven, the powers of love and I alike despised; for, mark how Pallas has renounced my sway, besides Diana, javelin-hurler—so will Ceres' daughter choose virginity, if we permit,—that way her hopes incline Do thou this goddess Proserpine, unite in marriage to her uncle. Venus spoke;—Cupid then loosed his quiver, and of all its many arrows, by his mother's aid, selected one; the keenest of them all; the least uncertain, surest from the string: and having fixed his knee against the bow, bent back the flexile horn.—The flying shaft struck Pluto in the breast.

[385] "There is a lake of greatest depth, not far from Henna's walls, long since called Pergus; and the songs of swans, that wake Cayster, rival not the notes of swans melodious on its gliding waves: a fringe of trees, encircling as a wreath its compassed waters, with a leafy veil denies the heat of noon; cool breezes blow beneath the boughs; the humid ground is sprent with purpling flowers, and spring eternal reigns. While Proserpine once dallied in that grove, plucking white lilies and sweet violets, and while she heaped her basket, while she filled her bosom, in a pretty zeal to strive beyond all others; she was seen, beloved, and carried off by Pluto—such the haste of sudden love. The goddess, in great fear, called on her mother and on all her friends; and, in her frenzy, as her robe was rent, down from the upper edge, her gathered flowers fell from her loosened tunic.—This mishap, so perfect was her childish innocence, increased her virgin grief.—The ravisher urged on his chariot, and inspired his steeds; called each by name, and on their necks and manes shook the black-rusted reins. They hastened through deep lakes, and through the pools of Palici, which boiling upward from the ruptured earth smell of strong sulphur. And they bore him thence to where the sons of Bacchus, who had sailed from twin-sea Corinth, long ago had built a city's walls between unequal ports.

[409] “Midway between the streams of Cyane and Arethusa lies a moon-like pool, of silvered narrow horns. There stood the Nymph, revered above all others in that land, whose name was Cyane. From her that pond was always called. And as she stood, concealed in middle waves that circled her white thighs, she recognized the God, and said; `O thou shalt go no further, Pluto, thou shalt not by force alone become the son-in-law of Ceres. It is better to beseech a mother's aid than drag her child away! And this sustains my word, if I may thus compare great things with small, Anapis loved me also; but he wooed and married me by kind endearments; not by fear, as thou hast terrified this girl.’ So did she speak; and stretching out her arms on either side opposed his way. The son of Saturn blazed with uncontrolled rage; and urged his steeds, and hurled his royal scepter in the pool. Cast with a mighty arm it pierced the deeps The smitten earth made way to Tartarus;—it opened a wide basin and received the plunging chariot in the midst.—

[425] "But now the mournful Cyane began to grieve, because from her against her fountain-rights the goddess had been torn. The deepening wound still rankled in her breast, and she dissolved in many tears, and wasted in those waves which lately were submissive to her rule. So you could see her members waste away: her hones begin to bend; her nails get soft; her azure hair, her fingers, legs and feet, and every slender part melt in the pool: so brief the time in which her tender limbs were changed to flowing waves; and after them her back and shoulders, and her sides and breasts dissolved and vanished into rivulets: and while she changed, the water slowly filled her faulty veins instead of living blood—and nothing that a hand could hold remained.

[438] "Now it befell when Proserpine was lost, her anxious mother sought through every land and every sea in vain. She rested not. Aurora, when she came with ruddy locks, might never know, nor even Hesperus, if she might deign to rest.—She lit two pines from Aetna's flames and held one in each hand, and restless bore them through the frosty glooms: and when serene the day had dimmed the stars she sought her daughter by the rising sun; and when the sun declined she rested not. Wearied with labour she began to thirst, for all this while no streams had cooled her lips; when, as by chance, a cottage thatched with straw gladdened her sight. Thither the goddess went, and, after knocking at the humble door, waited until an ancient woman came; who, when she saw the goddess and had heard her plea for water, gave her a sweet drink, but lately brewed of parched barley-meal; and while the goddess quaffed this drink a boy, of bold and hard appearance, stood before and laughed and called her greedy. While he spoke the angry goddess sprinkled him with meal, mixed with the liquid which had not been drunk. His face grew spotted where the mixture struck, and legs appeared where he had arms before, a tail was added to his changing trunk; and lest his former strength might cause great harm, all parts contracted till he measured less than common lizards. While the ancient dame wondered and wept and strove for one caress, the reptile fled and sought a lurking place.—His very name describes him to the eye, a body starred with many coloured spots.

[462] "What lands, what oceans Ceres wandered then, would weary to relate. The bounded world was narrow for the search. Again she passed through Sicily; again observed all signs; and as she wandered came to Cyane, who strove to tell where Proserpine had gone, but since her change, had neither mouth nor tongue, and so was mute. And yet the Nymph made plain by certain signs what she desired to say: for on the surface of the waves she showed a well-known girdle Proserpine had lost, by chance had dropped it in that sacred pool; which when the goddess recognized, at last, convinced her daughter had been forced from her, she tore her streaming locks, and frenzied struck her bosom with her palms. And in her rage, although she wist not where her daughter was, she blamed all countries and cried out against their base ingratitude; and she declared the world unworthy of the gift of corn: but Sicily before all other lands, for there was found the token of her loss. For that she broke with savage hand the plows, which there had turned the soil, and full of wrath leveled in equal death the peasant and his ox—both tillers of the soil—and made decree that land should prove deceptive to the seed, and rot all planted germs.—That fertile isle, so noted through the world, becomes a waste; the corn is blighted in the early blade; excessive heat, excessive rain destroys; the winds destroy, the constellations harm; the greedy birds devour the scattered seeds; thistles and tares and tough weeds choke the wheat.

[487] “For this the Nymph, Alpheian, raised her head above Elean waves; and having first pushed back her dripping tresses from her brows, back to her ears, she thus began to speak; `O mother of the virgin, sought throughout the globe! O mother of nutritious fruits! Let these tremendous labours have an end; do not increase the violence of thy wrath against the Earth, devoted to thy sway, and not deserving blame; for only force compelled the Earth to open for that wrong. Think not my supplication is to aid my native country; hither I am come an alien: Pisa is my native land, and Elis gave me birth. Though I sojourn a stranger in this isle of Sicily it yet delights me more than all the world. I, Arethusa, claim this isle my home, and do implore thee keep my throne secure, O greatest of the Gods! A better hour, when thou art lightened of thy cares, will come, and when thy countenance again is kind; and then may I declare what cause removed me from my native place—and through the waves of such a mighty ocean guided me to find Ortygia. Through the porous earth by deepest caverns, I uplift my head and see unwonted stars. Now it befell, as I was gliding far beneath the world, where flow dark Stygian streams, I saw thy Proserpine. Although her countenance betrayed anxiety and grief, a queen She reigned supremely great in that opacous world queen consort mighty to the King of Hell.’

[509] "Astonished and amazed, as thunderstruck, when Proserpina's mother heard these words, long while she stood till great bewilderment gave way to heavy grief. Then to the skies, ethereal, she mounted in her car and with beclouded face and streaming hair stood fronting Jove, opprobrious. `I have come O Jupiter, a suppliant to thee, both for my own offspring as well as thine. If thy hard heart deny a mother grace, yet haply as a father thou canst feel some pity for thy daughter; and I pray thy care for her may not be valued less because my groaning travail brought her forth.—My long-sought daughter has at last been found, if one can call it, found, when certain loss more certain has been proved; or so may deem the knowledge of her state.—But I may bear his rude ways, if again he bring her back. Thy worthy child should not be forced to wed a bandit-chief, nor should my daughter's charms reward his crime.’ She spoke;—and Jupiter took up the word; `This daughter is a care, a sacred pledge to me as well as thee; but if it please us to acknowledge truth, this is a deed of love and injures not. And if, O goddess, thou wilt not oppose, such law-son cannot compass our disgrace: for though all else were wanting, naught can need Jove's brother, who in fortune yields to none save me. But if thy fixed desire compel dissent, let Proserpine return to Heaven; however, subject to the binding law, if there her tongue have never tasted food—a sure condition, by the Fates decreed.’

[533] "He spoke; but Ceres was no less resolved to lead her daughter thence. Not so the Fates permit.—The virgin, thoughtless while she strayed among the cultivated Stygian fields, had broken fast. While there she plucked the fruit by bending a pomegranate tree, and plucked, and chewed seven grains, picked from the pallid rind; and none had seen except Ascalaphus—him Orphne, famed of all Avernian Nymphs had brought to birth in some infernal cave, days long ago, from Acheron's embrace—he saw it, and with cruel lips debarred young Proserpine's return. Heaving a sigh, the Queen of Erebus, indignant changed that witness to an evil bird: she turned his head, with sprinkled Phlegethonian lymph, into a beak, and feathers, and great eyes; his head grew larger and his shape, deformed, was cased in tawny wings; his lengthened nails bent inward;—and his sluggish arms as wings can hardly move. So he became the vilest bird; a messenger of grief; the lazy owl; sad omen to mankind.

[551] "The telltale's punishment was only just; O Siren Maids, but wherefore thus have ye the feet and plumes of birds, although remain your virgin features? Is it from the day when Proserpina gathered vernal flowers; because ye mingled with her chosen friends? And after she was lost, in vain ye sought through all the world; and wished for wings to waft you over the great deep, that soon the sea might feel your great concern.—The Gods were kind: ye saw your limbs grow yellow, with a growth of sudden-sprouting feathers; but because your melodies that gently charm the ear, besides the glory of your speech, might lose the blessing, of a tongue, your virgin face and human voice remained.

[564] "But Jupiter, the mediator of these rival claims, urged by his brother and his grieving sister, divided the long year in equal parts. Now Proserpina, as a Deity, of equal merit, in two kingdoms reigns:—for six months with her mother she abides, and six months with her husband.—Both her mind and her appearance quickly were transformed; for she who seemed so sad in Pluto's eyes, now as a goddess beams in joyful smiles; so, when the sun obscured by watery mist conquers the clouds, it shines in splendour forth.


[572] “And genial Ceres, full of joy, that now her daughter was regained, began to speak; `Declare the reason of thy wanderings, O Arethusa! tell me wherefore thou wert made a sacred stream.’ The waters gave no sound; but soon that goddess raised her head from the deep springs; and after sue had dried her green hair with her hand, with fair address she told the ancient amours of that stream which flows through Elis.—`I was one among the Nymphs of old Achaia,’—so she said—`And none of them more eager sped than I, along the tangled pathways; and I fixed the hunting-nets with zealous care.—Although I strove not for the praise that beauty gives, and though my form was something stout for grace, it had the name of being beautiful. So worthless seemed the praise, I took no joy in my appearance—as a country lass I blushed at those endowments which would give delight to others—even the power to please seemed criminal.—And I remember when returning weary from Stymphal fan woods, and hot with toil, that made the glowing sun seem twice as hot, I chanced upon a stream, that flowed without a ripple or a sound so smoothly on, I hardly thought it moved.

[587] `The water was so clear that one could see and count the pebbles in the deepest parts, and silver willows and tall poplar trees, nourished by flowing waters, spread their shade over the shelving banks. So I approached, and shrinkingly touched the cool stream with my feet; and then I ventured deeper to my knees; and not contented doffed my fleecy robes, and laid them on a bending willow tree. Then, naked, I plunged deeply in the stream, and while I smote the water with my hands, and drew it towards me, striking boldly forth, moving my body in a thousand ways, I thought I heard a most unusual sound, a murmuring noise beneath the middle stream. Alarmed, I hastened to the nearest bank, and as I stood upon its edge, these words hoarsely Alpheus uttered from his waves; `Oh, whither dost thou hasten?’ and again, ‘Oh, whither dost thou hasten?’ said the voice.

[601] `Just as I was, I fled without my clothes, for I had left them on the other bank; which, when he saw, so much the more inflamed, more swiftly he pursued: my nakedness was tempting to his gaze. And thus I ran; and thus relentlessly he pressed my steps: so from the hawk the dove with trembling wings; and so, the hawk pursues the frightened dove. Swiftly and long I fled, with winding course, to Orchamenus, Psophis and Cyllene, and Maenalus and Erymanthus cold, and Elis. Neither could he gain by speed, although his greater strength must soon prevail, for I not longer could endure the strain. Still I sped onward through the fields and woods, by tangled wilds and over rocks and crags; and as I hastened from the setting sun, I thought I saw a growing shadow move beyond my feet; it may have been my fear imagined it, but surely now I heard the sound of footsteps: I could even feel his breathing on the loose ends of my hair; and I was terrified. At last, worn out by all my efforts to escape, I cried; `Oh, help me—thou whose bow and quivered darts I oft have borne—thy armour-bearer calls—O chaste Diana help,—or I am lost.’

[621] `It moved the goddess, and she gathered up a dense cloud, and encompassed me about.—The baffled River circled round and round, seeking to find me, hidden in that cloud—twice went the River round, and twice cried out, `Ho, Arethusa! Arethusa, Ho!’ `What were my wretched feelings then? Could I be braver than the Iamb that hears the wolves, howling around the high-protecting fold? Or than the hare, which lurking in the bush knows of the snarling hounds and dares not move? And yet, Alpheus thence would not depart, for he could find no footprints of my flight. He watched the cloud and spot, and thus besieged, a cold sweat gathered on my trembling limbs. The clear-blue drops, distilled from every pore, made pools of water where I moved my feet, and dripping moisture trickled from my hair.—Much quicker than my story could be told, my body was dissolved to flowing streams.—But still the River recognized the waves, and for the love of me transformed his shape from human features to his proper streams, that so his waters might encompass mine. Diana, therefore, opened up the ground, in which I plunged, and thence through gloomy caves was carried to Ortygia—blessed isle! To which my chosen goddess gave her name! Where first I rose amid the upper air!’


[642] "Thus Arethusa made an end of speech: and presently the fertile goddess yoked two dragons to her chariot: she curbed their mouths with bits: they bore her through the air, in her light car betwixt the earth and skies, to the Tritonian citadel, and to Triptolemus, to whom she furnished seed, that he might scatter it in wasted lands, and in the fallow fields; which, after long neglect, again were given to the plow. After he had traveled through uncharted skies, over wide Europe and vast Asian lands, he lit upon the coast of Scythia, where a king called Lyncus reigned. And there, at once he sought the palace of that king, who said; `Whence come you, stranger, wherefore in this land? Come, tell to me your nation and your name.’ And after he was questioned thus, he said, `I came from far-famed Athens and they call my name Triptolemus. I neither came by ship through waves, nor over the dry land; for me the yielding atmosphere makes way.—I bear the gifts of Ceres to your land, which scattered over your wide realm may yield an ample harvest of nutritious food.’ The envious Lyncus, wishing to appear the gracious author of all benefits, received the unsuspecting youth with smiles; but when he fell into a heavy sleep that savage king attacked him with a sword—but while attempting to transfix his guest, the goddess Ceres changed him to a lynx:—and once again she sent her favoured youth to drive her sacred dragons through the clouds.


[662] "The greatest of our number ended thus her learned songs; and with concordant voice the chosen Nymphs adjudged the Deities, on Helicon who dwell, should be proclaimed the victors. But the vanquished nine began to scatter their abuse; to whom rejoined the goddess; `Since it seems a trifling thing that you should suffer a deserved defeat, and you must add unmerited abuse to heighten your offence, and since by this appears the end of our endurance, we shall certainly proceed to punish you according to the limit of our wrath.’ But these Emathian sisters laughed to scorn our threatening words; and as they tried to speak, and made great clamour, and with shameless hands made threatening gestures, suddenly stiff quills sprouted from out their finger-nails, and plumes spread over their stretched arms; and they could see the mouth of each companion growing out into a rigid beak.—And thus new birds were added to the forest.—While they made complaint, these Magpies that defile our groves, moving their stretched-out arms, began to float, suspended in the air. And since that time their ancient eloquence, their screaming notes, their tiresome zeal of speech have all remained.”