The Metamorphoses of Ovid - Literally Translated into English Prose, with Copious Notes - and Explanations
by Publius Ovidius Naso
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[Transcriber's Note:

This text is intended for users whose text readers cannot use the "real" (unicode/utf-8) version of the file. The "oe" ligature has been unpacked into separate letters; Greek has been transliterated and shown between marks.

In the original text, words and phrases supplied by the translator were printed in italics. In this e-text they are shown in braces {}. Italics in the notes and commentary are shown conventionally with lines. Square brackets [] in the body text are in the original.

Line numbers from the Latin poem—not its prose translation—were printed as headnotes on each page. For this e-text, only the line numbers of each complete "Fable" are given. Line numbers used in footnotes are retained from the original text; these, too, refer to the Latin poem and are independent of line divisions in the translation.

In Transcriber's Notes, references to Clarke are from the third edition (1752).]





Literally Translated into English Prose, with Copious Notes and Explanations,

BY HENRY T. RILEY, B.A. of Clare Hall, Cambridge.





Reprinted from the Stereotype Plates by Wm. Clowes & Sons, Ltd., Stamford Street and Charing Cross.

[The Introduction is included here for completeness, omitting the Synopses of Books I-VII.]


The Metamorphoses of Ovid are a compendium of the Mythological narratives of ancient Greece and Rome, so ingeniously framed, as to embrace a large amount of information upon almost every subject connected with the learning, traditions, manners, and customs of antiquity, and have afforded a fertile field of investigation to the learned of the civilized world. To present to the public a faithful translation of a work, universally esteemed, not only for its varied information, but as being the masterpiece of one of the greatest Poets of ancient Rome, is the object of the present volume.

To render the work, which, from its nature and design, must, of necessity, be replete with matter of obscure meaning, more inviting to the scholar, and more intelligible to those who are unversed in Classical literature, the translation is accompanied with Notes and Explanations, which, it is believed, will be found to throw considerable light upon the origin and meaning of some of the traditions of heathen Mythology.

In the translation, the text of the Delphin edition has been generally adopted; and no deviation has been made from it, except in a few instances, where the reason for such a step is stated in the notes; at the same time, the texts of Burmann and Gierig have throughout been carefully consulted. The several editions vary materially in respect to punctuation; the Translator has consequently used his own discretion in adopting that which seemed to him the most fully to convey in each passage the intended meaning of the writer.

The Metamorphoses of Ovid have been frequently translated into the English language. On referring to Mr. Bohn's excellent Catalogue of the Greek and Latin Classics and their Translations, we find that the whole of the work has been twice translated into English Prose, while five translations in Verse are there enumerated. A prose version of the Metamorphoses was published by Joseph Davidson, about the middle of the last century, which professes to be "as near the original as the different idioms of the Latin and English will allow;" and to be "printed for the use of schools, as well as of private gentlemen." A few moments' perusal of this work will satisfy the reader that it has not the slightest pretension to be considered a literal translation, while, by its departure from the strict letter of the author, it has gained nothing in elegance of diction. It is accompanied by "critical, historical, geographical, and classical notes in English, from the best Commentators, both ancient and modern, beside a great number of notes, entirely new;" but notwithstanding this announcement, these annotations will be found to be but few in number, and, with some exceptions in the early part of the volume, to throw very little light on the obscurities of the text. A fifth edition of this translation was published so recently as 1822, but without any improvement, beyond the furbishing up of the old-fashioned language of the original preface. A far more literal translation of the Metamorphoses is that by John Clarke, which was first published about the year 1735, and had attained to a seventh edition in 1779. Although this version may be pronounced very nearly to fulfil the promise set forth in its title page, of being "as literal as possible," still, from the singular inelegance of its style, and the fact of its being couched in the conversational language of the early part of the last century, and being unaccompanied by any attempt at explanation, it may safely be pronounced to be ill adapted to the requirements of the present age. Indeed, it would not, perhaps, be too much to assert, that, although the translator may, in his own words, "have done an acceptable service to such gentlemen as are desirous of regaining or improving the skill they acquired at school," he has, in many instances, burlesqued rather than translated his author. Some of the curiosities of his version will be found set forth in the notes; but, for the purpose of the more readily justifying this assertion, a few of them are adduced: the word "nitidus" is always rendered "neat," whether applied to a fish, a cow, a chariot, a laurel, the steps of a temple, or the art of wrestling. He renders "horridus," "in a rude pickle;" "virgo" is generally translated "the young lady;" "vir" is "a gentleman;" "senex" and "senior" are indifferently "the old blade," "the old fellow," or "the old gentleman;" while "summa arx" is "the very tip-top." "Misera" is "poor soul;" "exsilio" means "to bounce forth;" "pellex" is "a miss;" "lumina" are "the peepers;" "turbatum fugere" is "to scower off in a mighty bustle;" "confundor" is "to be jumbled;" and "squalidus" is "in a sorry pickle." "Importuna" is "a plaguy baggage;" "adulterium" is rendered "her pranks;" "ambages" becomes either "a long rabble of words," "a long-winded detail," or "a tale of a tub;" "miserabile carmen" is "a dismal ditty;" "increpare hos" is "to rattle these blades;" "penetralia" means "the parlour;" while "accingere," more literally than elegantly, is translated "buckle to." "Situs" is "nasty stuff;" "oscula jungere" is "to tip him a kiss;" "pingue ingenium" is a circumlocution for "a blockhead;" "anilia instrumenta" are "his old woman's accoutrements;" and "repetito munere Bacchi" is conveyed to the sense of the reader as, "they return again to their bottle, and take the other glass." These are but a specimen of the blemishes which disfigure the most literal of the English translations of the Metamorphoses.

[Transcriber's Note:

The Clarke "translation" was published as part of a student edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses, with the Latin on the top half of the page, the English below. It was not intended as an independent text.]

In the year 1656, a little volume was published, by J[ohn] B[ulloker,] entitled "Ovid's Metamorphosis, translated grammatically, and, according to the propriety of our English tongue, so far as grammar and the verse will bear, written chiefly for the use of schools, to be used according to the directions in the preface to the painfull schoolmaster, and more fully in the book called, 'Ludus Literarius, or the Grammar school, chap. 8.'" Notwithstanding a title so pretentious, it contains a translation of no more than the first 567 lines of the first Book, executed in a fanciful and pedantic manner; and its rarity is now the only merit of the volume. A literal interlinear translation of the first Book "on the plan recommended by Mr. Locke," was published in 1839, which had been already preceded by "a selection from the Metamorphoses of Ovid, adapted to the Hamiltonian system, by a literal and interlineal translation," published by James Hamilton, the author of the Hamiltonian system. This work contains selections only from the first six books, and consequently embraces but a very small portion of the entire work.

For the better elucidation of the different fabulous narratives and allusions, explanations have been added, which are principally derived from the writings of Herodotus, Apollodorus, Pausanias, Dio Cassius, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Strabo, Hyginus, Nonnus, and others of the historians, philosophers, and mythologists of antiquity. A great number of these illustrations are collected in the elaborate edition of Ovid, published by the Abbe Banier, one of the most learned scholars of the last century; who has, therein, and in his "Explanations of the Fables of Antiquity," with indefatigable labour and research, culled from the works of ancient authors, all such information as he considered likely to throw any light upon the Mythology and history of Greece and Rome.

This course has been adopted, because it was considered that a statement of the opinions of contemporary authors would be the most likely to enable the reader to form his own ideas upon the various subjects presented to his notice. Indeed, except in two or three instances, space has been found too limited to allow of more than an occasional reference to the opinions of modern scholars. Such being the object of the explanations, the reader will not be surprised at the absence of critical and lengthened discussions on many of those moot points of Mythology and early history which have occupied, with no very positive result, the attention of Niebuhr, Lobeck, Mueller, Buttmann, and many other scholars of profound learning.






In the mean time Minos besieges Megara. Scylla, becoming enamoured of him, betrays her country, the safety of which depends upon the purple lock of her father Nisu. Being afterwards rejected by Minos, she clings to his ship, and is changed into a bird, while her father becomes a sea eagle. Minos returns to Crete, and having erected the Labyrinth with the assistance of Daedalus, he there encloses the Minotaur, the disgrace of his family, and feeds it with his Athenian captives. Theseus being one of these, slays the monster: and having escaped from the Labyrinth by the aid of Ariadne, he takes her with him, but deserts her in the isle of Dia, where Bacchus meets with her, and places her crown among the Constellations. Daedalus being unable to escape from the island of Crete, invents wings and flies away; while Icarus, accompanying his father, is drowned. The partridge beholds the father celebrating his funeral rites, and testifies his joy: Perdix, or Talus, who had been envied by Minos for his ingenuity, and had been thrown by him from the temple of Minerva, having been transformed into that bird. Theseus, having now become celebrated, is invited to the chase of the Calydonian boar, which Atalanta is the first to wound. Meleager slays the monster; and his death is accelerated by his mother Althaea, who places in the fire the fatal billet. Returning from the expedition, Theseus comes to Acheloues, and sees the islands called the Echinades, into which the Naiads have been transformed. Pirithoues denies the possibility of this; but Lelex quotes, as an example, the case of Baucis and Philemon, who were changed into trees, while their house became a temple, and the neighbouring country a pool of water. Acheloues then tells the story of the transformations of Proteus and of Metra, and how Metra supported her father Erisicthon, while afflicted with violent hunger.


Acheloues then relates his own transformations, when he was contending with Hercules for the hand of Deianira. Hercules wins her, and Nessus attempts to carry her off: on which Hercules pierces him with one of his arrows that has been dipped in the blood of the Hydra. In revenge, Nessus, as he is dying, gives to Deianira his garment stained with his blood. She, distrusting her husband's affection, sends him the garment; he puts it on, and his vitals are consumed by the venom. As he is dying, he hurls his attendant Lychas into the sea, where he becomes a rock. Hercules is conveyed to heaven, and is enrolled in the number of the Deities. Alcmena, his mother, goes to her daughter-in-law Iole, and tells her how Galanthis was changed into a weasel; while she, in her turn, tells the story of the transformation of her sister Dryope into the lotus. In the meantime Iolaues comes, whose youth has been restored by Hebe. Jupiter shows, by the example of his sons AEacus and Minos, that all are not so blessed. Miletus, flying from Minos, arrives in Asia, and becomes the father of Byblis and Caunus. Byblis falls in love with her brother, and is transformed into a fountain. This would have appeared more surprising to all, if Iphis had not a short time before, on the day of her nuptials, been changed into a man.


Hymenaeus attends these nuptials, and then goes to those of Orpheus; but with a bad omen, as Eurydice dies soon after, and cannot be brought to life. In his sorrow, Orpheus repairs to the solitudes of the mountains, where the trees flock around him at the sound of his lyre; and, among others, the pine, into which Atys has been changed; and the cypress, produced from the transformation of Cyparissus. Orpheus sings of the rape of Ganymede; of the change of Hyacinthus, who was beloved and slain by Apollo, into a flower; of the transformation of the Cerastae into bulls; of the Propoetides, who were changed into stones; and of the statue of Pygmalion, which was changed into a living woman, who became the mother of Paphos. He then sings, how Myrrha, for her incestuous intercourse with her father, was changed into the myrrh tree; and how Adonis (to whom Venus relates the transformation of Hippomenes and Atalanta into lions) was transformed into an anemone.


Orpheus is torn to pieces by the Thracian women; on which, a serpent, which attacks his face, is changed into stone. The women are transformed into trees by Bacchus, who deserts Thrace, and betakes himself to Phrygia; where Midas, for his care of Silenus, receives the power of making gold. He loathes this gift; and bathing in the river Pactolus, its sands become golden. For his stupidity, his ears are changed by Apollo into those of an ass. After this, that God goes to Troy, and aids Laomedon in building its walls. Hercules rescues his daughter Hesione, when fastened to a rock, and his companion Telamon receives her as his wife; while his brother Peleus marries the sea Goddess, Thetis. Going to visit Ceyx, he learns how Daedalion has been changed into a hawk, and sees a wolf changed into a rock. Ceyx goes to consult the oracle of Claros, and perishes by shipwreck. On this, Morpheus appears to Halcyone, in the form of her husband, and she is changed into a kingfisher; into which bird Ceyx is also transformed. Persons who observe them, as they fly, call to mind how AEsacus, the son of Priam, was changed into a sea bird, called the didapper.


Priam performs the obsequies for AEsacus, believing him to be dead. The children of Priam attend, with the exception of Paris, who, having gone to Greece, carries off Helen, the wife of Menelaues. The Greeks pursue Paris, but are detained at Aulis, where they see a serpent changed into stone, and prepare to sacrifice Iphigenia to Diana; but a hind is substituted for her. The Trojans hearing of the approach of the Greeks, in arms await their arrival. At the first onset, Cygnus, dashed by Achilles against a stone, is changed by Neptune into the swan, a bird of the same name, he having been vulnerable by no weapon. At the banquet of the chiefs, Nestor calls to mind Caeneus, who was also invulnerable; and who having been changed from a woman into a man, on being buried under a heap of trees, was transformed into a bird. This Caeneus was one of the Lapithae, at the battle of whom with the Centaurs, Nestor was present. Nestor also tells how his brother, Periclymenus, was changed into an eagle. Meanwhile, Neptune laments the death of Cygnus, and entreats Apollo to direct the arrow of Paris against the heel of Achilles, which is done, and that hero is slain.


Ajax Telamon and Ulysses contend for the arms of Achilles. Ihe former slays himself, on which a hyacinth springs up from his blood. Troy being taken, Hecuba is carried to Thrace, where she tears out the eyes of Polymnestor, and is afterwards changed into a bitch. While the Gods deplore her misfortunes, Aurora is occupied with grief for the death of her son Memnon, from whose ashes the birds called Memnonides arise. AEneas flying from Troy, visits Anius, whose daughters have been changed into doves; and after touching at other places, remarkable for various transformations, he arrives in Sicily, where is the maiden Scylla, to whom Galatea relates how Polyphemus courted her, and how he slew Acis. On this, Glaucus, who has been changed into a sea Deity, makes his appearance.


Circe changes Scylla into a monster. AEneas arrives in Africa, and is entertained by Dido. Passing by the islands called Pithecusae, where the Cecropes have been transformed from men into apes, he comes to Italy; and landing near the spot which he calls Caicta, he learns from Macareus many particulars respecting Ulysses and the incantations of Circe, and how king Picus was changed into a woodpecker. He afterwards wages war with Turnus. Through Venulus, Turnus asks assistance of Diomedes, whose companions have been transformed into birds, and he is refused. Venulus, as he returns, sees the spot where an Apulian shepherd had been changed into an olive tree. The ships of AEneas, when on fire, become sea Nymphs, just as a heron formerly arose from the flames of the city of Ardea. AEneas is now made a Deity. Other kings succeed him, and in the time of Procas Pomona lives. She is beloved by Vertumnus, who first assumes the form of an old woman; and having told the story of Anaxarete, who was changed into a stone for her cruelty, he reassumes the shape of a youth, and prevails upon the Goddess. Cold waters, by the aid of the Naiads become warm. Romulus having succeeded Numitor, he is made a Deity under the name of Quirinus, while his wife Hersilia becomes the Goddess Hora.


Numa succeeds; who, on making inquiry respecting the origin of the city of Crotona, learns how black pebbles were changed into white; he also attends the lectures of Pythagoras, on the changes which all matter is eternally undergoing. Egeria laments the death of Numa, and will not listen to the consolations of Hippolytus, who tells her of his own transformation, and she pines away into a fountain. This is not less wonderful, than how Tages sprang from a clod of earth; or how the lance of Romulus became a tree; or how Cippus became decked with horns. The Poet concludes by passing to recent events; and after shewing how AEsculapius was first worshipped by the Romans, in the sacred isle of the Tiber, he relates the Deification of Julius Caesar and his change into a Star; and foretells imperishable fame for himself.


FABLE I. [VIII.1-151]

Minos commences the war with the siege of Megara. The preservation of the city depends on a lock of the hair of its king, Nisus. His daughter, Scylla, falling in love with Minos, cuts off the fatal lock, and gives it to him. Minos makes himself master of the place; and, abhorring Scylla and the crime she has been guilty of, he takes his departure. In despair, she throws herself into the sea, and follows his fleet. Nisus, being transformed into a sea eagle, attacks her in revenge, and she is changed into a bird called Ciris.

Now, Lucifer unveiling the day and dispelling the season of night, the East wind[1] fell, and the moist vapours arose. The favourable South winds gave a passage to the sons of AEacus,[2] and Cephalus returning; with which, being prosperously impelled, they made the port they were bound for, before it was expected.

In the meantime Minos is laying waste the Lelegeian coasts,[3] and previously tries the strength of his arms against the city Alcathoe, which Nisus had; among whose honoured hoary hairs a lock, distinguished by its purple colour, descended from the middle of his crown, the safeguard of his powerful kingdom. The sixth horns of the rising Phoebe were {now} growing again, and the fortune of the war was still in suspense, and for a long time did victory hover between them both with uncertain wings. There was a regal tower built with vocal walls, on which the son of Latona[4] is reported to have laid his golden harp; {and} its sound adhered to the stone. The daughter of Nisus was wont often to go up thither, and to strike the resounding stones with a little pebble, when it was a time of peace. She used, likewise, often to view the fight, and the contests of the hardy warfare, from that tower. And now, by the continuance of the hostilities, she had become acquainted with both the names of the chiefs, their arms, their horses, their dresses, and the Cydonean[5] quivers.

Before the rest, she had observed the face of the chieftain, the son of Europa; even better than was enough for merely knowing him. In her opinion, Minos, whether it was that he had enclosed his head in a helm crested with feathers, was beauteous in a helmet; or whether he had taken up a shield shining with gold, it became him to assume that shield. Drawing his arm back, did he hurl the slender javelin; the maiden commended his skill, joined with strength. Did he bend the wide bow with the arrow laid upon it; she used to swear that thus Phoebus stood, when assuming his arrows. But when he exposed his face, by taking off the brazen {helmet}, and, arrayed in purple, pressed the back of a white horse, beauteous with embroidered housings, and guided his foaming mouth; the virgin daughter of Nisus was hardly mistress of herself, hardly able to control a sound mind. She used to call the javelin happy which he touched, and the reins happy which he was pressing with his hand. She had an impulse (were it only possible) to direct her virgin footsteps through the hostile ranks; she had an impulse to cast her body from the top of the towers into the Gnossian camp, or to open the gates, strengthened with brass, to the enemy; or, {indeed}, anything else, if Minos should wish it. And as she was sitting, looking at the white tents of the Dictaean king, she said, "I am in doubt whether I should rejoice, or whether I should grieve, that this mournful war is carried on. I grieve that Minos is the enemy of the person who loves him; but unless there had been a war, would he have been known to me? yet, taking me for a hostage, he might cease the war, and have me for his companion, me as a pledge of peace. If, most beauteous of beings, she who bore thee, was such as thou art thyself, with reason was the God {Jupiter} inflamed with {love for} her. Oh! thrice happy were I, if, moving upon wings through the air, I could light upon the camp of the Gnossian king, and, owning myself and my flame, could ask him with what dowry he could wish to be purchased; provided only, that he did not ask the city of my father. For, perish rather the desired alliance, than that I should prevail by treason; although the clemency of a merciful conqueror has often made it of advantage to many, to be conquered. He certainly carries on a just war for his slain son,[6] and is strong both in his cause, and in the arms that defend his cause.

"We shall be conquered, as I suppose. If this fate awaits this city, why should his own arms, and not my love, open the walls to him? It will be better for him to conquer without slaughter and delay, and the expense of his own blood. How much, indeed, do I dread, Minos, lest any one should unknowingly wound thy breast! for who is so hardened as to dare, unless unknowingly, to direct his cruel lance against thee? The design pleases me; and my determination is to deliver up my country as a dowry, together with myself, and {so} to put an end to the war. But to be willing, is too little; a guard watches the approaches, and my father keeps the keys of the gates. Him alone, in my wretchedness, do I dread; he alone obstructs my desires. Would that the Gods would grant I might be without a father! Every one, indeed, is a God to himself. Fortune is an enemy to idle prayers. Another woman, inflamed with a passion so great, would long since have taken a pleasure in destroying whatever stood in the way of her love. And why should any one be bolder than myself? I could dare to go through flames, {and} amid swords. But in this case there is no occasion for any flames or {any} swords; I {only} want the lock of my father. That purple lock is more precious to me than gold; it will make me happy, and mistress of my own wish."

As she is saying such things, the night draws on, the greatest nurse of cares, and with the darkness her boldness increases. The first slumbers are now come, in which sleep takes possession of the breast wearied with the cares of the day. She silently enters the chamber of her father, and ({O abominable} crime!) the daughter despoils the father of his fatal lock, and having got the prize of crime, carries with her the spoil of her impiety; and issuing forth by the gate, she goes through the midst of the enemy, (so great is her confidence in her deserts) to the king, whom, in astonishment, she thus addresses: "'Twas love that urged the deed. I {am} Scylla, the royal issue of Nisus; to thee do I deliver the fortunes of my country and my own, {as well}; I ask for no reward, but thyself. Take this purple lock, as a pledge of my love; and do not consider that I am delivering to thee a lock of hair, but the life of my father." And {then}, in her right hand, she holds forth the infamous present. Minos refuses it, {thus} held out; and shocked at the thought of so unheard of a crime, he says, "May the Gods, O thou reproach of our age, banish thee from their universe; and may both earth and sea be denied to thee. At least, I will not allow so great a monster to come into Crete, the birth-place of Jupiter, which is my realm." He {thus} spoke;[7] and when, {like} a most just lawgiver, he had imposed conditions on the vanquished, he ordered the halsers of the fleet to be loosened, and the brazen {beaked} ships to be impelled with the oars. Scylla, when she beheld the launched ships sailing on the main, and {saw} that the prince did not give her the {expected} reward of her wickedness, having spent {all} her entreaties, fell into a violent rage, and holding up her hands, with her hair dishevelled, in her frenzy she exclaimed,

"Whither dost thou fly, the origin of thy achievements {thus} left behind, O thou preferred before my country, preferred before my father? Whither dost thou fly, barbarous {man}? whose victory is both my crime and my merit. Has neither the gift presented to thee, nor yet my passion, moved thee? nor yet {the fact} that all my hopes were centred in thee alone? For whither shall I return, forsaken {by thee}? To my country? Subdued, it is ruined. But suppose it were {still} safe; by my treachery, it is shut against me. To the face of my father, that I have placed in thy power. My fellow-citizens hate me deservedly; the neighbours dread my example. I have closed the whole world against me, that Crete alone might be open {to me}. And dost thou thus forbid me that as well? Is it thus, ungrateful one, that thou dost desert me? Europa was not thy mother, but the inhospitable Syrtis,[8] or Armenian[9] tigresses, or Charybdis disturbed by the South wind. Nor wast thou the son of Jupiter; nor was thy mother beguiled by the {assumed} form of a bull. That story of thy birth is false. He was both a fierce bull, and one charmed with the love of no heifer, that begot thee. Nisus, my father, take vengeance upon me. Thou city so lately betrayed, rejoice at my misfortunes; for I have deserved them, I confess, and I am worthy to perish. Yet let some one of those, whom I have impiously ruined, destroy me. Why dost thou, who hast conquered by means of my crime, chastise that crime? This, which was treason to my country and to my father, was an act of kindness to thee. She is truly worthy[10] of thee for a husband, who, adulterously {enclosed} in wood, deceived the fierce-looking bull, and bore in her womb an offspring of shape dissimilar {to herself}. And do my complaints reach thy ears? Or do the same winds bear away my fruitless words, and thy ships, ungrateful man? Now, {ah!} now, it is not to be wondered at that Pasiphae preferred the bull to thee; thou didst have the more savage nature {of the two}. Wretch that I am! He joys in speeding onward, and the waves resound, cleaved by his oars. Together with myself, alas! my {native} land recedes from him. Nothing dost thou avail; oh thou! forgetful to no purpose of my deserts. In spite of thee, will I follow thee, and grasping thy crooked stern, I will be dragged through the long seas."

Scarce has she said {this, when} she leaps into the waves, and follows the ships, Cupid giving her strength, and she hangs, an unwelcome companion, to the Gnossian ship. When her father beholds her, (for now he is hovering in the air, and he has lately been made a sea eagle, with tawny wings), he is going to tear her in pieces with his crooked beak. Through fear she quits the stern; but the light air seems to support her as she is falling, that she may not touch the sea. It is feathers {that support her}. With feathers, being changed into a bird, she is called Ciris;[11] and this name does she obtain from cutting off the lock.

[Footnote 1: The East wind.—Ver. 2. Eurus, or the East wind, while blowing, would prevent the return of Cephalus from the island of AEgina to Athens.]

[Footnote 2: The sons of AEacus.—Ver. 4. 'AEacidis' may mean either the forces sent by AEacus, or his sons Telamon and Peleus, in command of those troops. It has been well observed, that 'redeuntibus,' 'returning,' is here somewhat improperly applied to the troops of AEacus, for they were not, strictly speaking, returning to Athens although Cephalus was.]

[Footnote 3: Lelegeian coasts.—Ver. 6. Of Megara, which is also called Alcathoe, from Alcathoues, its restorer.]

[Footnote 4: Of Latona.—Ver. 15. The story was, that when Alcathoues was rebuilding the walls of Megara, Apollo assisted him, and laying down his lyre among the stones, its tones were communicated to them.]

[Footnote 5: Cydonean.—Ver 22. From Cydon, a city of Crete.]

[Footnote 6: His slain son.—Ver. 58. Namely, his son Androgeus, who had been put to death, as already mentioned.]

[Footnote 7: He thus spoke.—Ver. 101. The poet omits the continuation of the siege by Minos, and how he took Megara by storm, as not pertaining to the developement of his story.]

[Footnote 8: Inhospitable Syrtis.—Ver. 120. There were two famous quicksands, or 'Syrtes,' in the Mediterranean Sea, near the coast of Africa; the former near Cyrene, and the latter near Byzacium, which were known by the name of 'Syrtis Major' and 'Syrtis Minor.' The inhabitants of the neighbouring coasts were savage and inhospitable, and subsisted by plundering the shipwrecked vessels.]

[Footnote 9: Armenian.—Ver. 121. Armenia was a country of Asia, lying between Mount Taurus and the Caucasian chain, and extending from Cappadocia to the Caspian Sea. It was divided into the greater and the less Armenia, the one to the East, the other to the West. Its tigers were noted for their extreme fierceness.]

[Footnote 10: She is truly worthy.—Ver. 131. Pasiphae, who was the mother of the Minotaur.]

[Footnote 11: She is called Ciris.—Ver. 151. From the Greek word keiro, 'to clip,' or 'cut.' According to Virgil, who, in his Ciris, describes this transformation, this bird was of variegated colours, with a purple breast, and legs of a reddish hue, and lived a solitary life in retired spots. It is uncertain what kind of bird it was; some think it was a hawk, some a lark, and others a partridge. It has been suggested that Ovid did not enter into the details of this transformation, because it had been so recently depicted in beautiful language by Virgil. Hyginus says that the 'Ciris' was a fish.]


Minos, having raised an army and received auxiliary troops from his allies, made war upon the Athenians, to revenge the death of his son, Androgeus. Having conquered Nisea, he laid siege to Megara, which was betrayed by the perfidy of Scylla, the daughter of its king, Nisus. Pausanias and other historians say that the story here related by the Poet is based on fact; and that Scylla held a secret correspondence with Minos during the siege of Megara, and, at length, introduced him into the town, by opening the gates to him with the keys which she had stolen from her father, while he was asleep. This is probably alluded to under the allegorical description of the fatal lock of hair, though why it should be depicted in that form especially, it is difficult to guess. The change of Scylla into a lark, or partridge, and of her father into a sea eagle, are poetical fictions based on the equivocal meanings of their names, the one Greek and the other Hebrew; for the name 'Ciris' resembles the Greek verb keiro, which signifies 'to clip,' or 'cut short.' 'Nisus,' too, resembles the Hebrew word 'Netz,' which means a bird resembling the osprey, or sea eagle. Apollodorus says, that Minos ordered Scylla to be thrown into the sea; and Zenodotus, that he caused her to be hanged at the mainmast of his ship.

FABLE II. [VIII.152-182]

Minos, having overcome the Athenians, obliges them to pay a tribute of youths and virgins of the best families, to be exposed to the Minotaur. The lot falls on Theseus, who, by the assistance of Ariadne, kills the monster, escapes from the labyrinth, which Daedalus made, and carries Ariadne to the island of Naxos, where he abandons her. Bacchus wooes her, and, to immortalize her name, he transforms the crown which he has given her into a Constellation.

Minos paid, as a vow to Jupiter, the bodies of a hundred bulls, as soon as, disembarking from his ships, he reached the land of the Curetes; and his palace was decorated with the spoils there hung up. The reproach of his family had {now} grown up, and the shameful adultery of his mother was notorious, from the unnatural shape of the two-formed monster. Minos resolves to remove the disgrace from his abode, and to enclose it in a habitation of many divisions, and an abode full of mazes. Daedalus, a man very famed for his skill in architecture, plans the work, and confounds the marks {of distinction}, and leads the eyes into mazy wanderings, by the intricacy of its various passages. No otherwise than as the limpid Maeander sports in the Phrygian fields, and flows backwards and forwards with its varying course, and, meeting itself, beholds its waters that are to follow, and fatigues its wandering current, now {pointing} to its source, and now to the open sea. Just so, Daedalus fills innumerable paths with windings; and scarcely can he himself return to the entrance, so great are the intricacies of the place. After he has shut up here the double figure of a bull and of a youth;[12] and the third supply, chosen by lot each nine years, has subdued the monster twice {before} gorged with Athenian blood; and when the difficult entrance, retraced by none of those {who have entered it} before, has been found by the aid of the maiden, by means of the thread gathered up again; immediately, the son of AEgeus, carrying away the daughter of Minos, sets sail for Dia,[13] and barbarously deserts his companion on those shores.

Her, {thus} deserted and greatly lamenting, Liber embraces and aids; and, that she may be famed by a lasting Constellation, he places in the heavens the crown taken from off her head. It flies through the yielding air, and, as it flies, its jewels are suddenly changed into fires, and they settle in their places, the shape of the crown {still} remaining; which is in the middle,[14] between {the Constellation} resting on his knee,[15] and that which holds the serpents.

[Footnote 12: Of a youth.—Ver. 169. Clarke translates this line, 'In which, after he had shut the double figure of a bull and a young fellow.']

[Footnote 13: Sets sail for Dia.—Ver. 174. Dia was another name of the island of Naxos, one of the Cyclades, where Theseus left Ariadne. Commentators have complained, with some justice, that Ovid has here omitted the story of Ariadne; but it should be remembered that he has given it at length in the third book of the Fasti, commencing at line 460.]

[Footnote 14: In the middle.—Ver. 182. The crown of Ariadne was made a Constellation between those of Hercules and Ophiuchus. Some writers say, that the crown was given by Bacchus to Ariadne as a marriage present; while others state that it was made by Vulcan of gold and Indian jewels, by the light of which Theseus was aided in his escape from the labyrinth, and that he afterwards presented it to Ariadne. Some authors, and Ovid himself, in the Fasti, represent Ariadne herself as becoming a Constellation.]

[Footnote 15: Resting on his knee.—Ver. 182. Hercules, as a Constellation, is represented in the attitude of kneeling, when about to slay the dragon that watched the gardens of the Hesperides.]


Oppressed with famine, and seeing the enemy at their gates, the Athenians went to consult the oracle at Delphi; and were answered, that to be delivered from their calamities, they must give satisfaction to Minos. They immediately sent ambassadors to him, humbly suing for peace, which he granted them, on condition that each year, according to Apollodorus and Diodorus Siculus, or every nine years, according to Plutarch and Ovid, they should send him seven young men and as many virgins. The severity of these conditions provoked the Athenians to render Minos as odious as possible; whereupon, they promulgated the story, that he destined the youths that were sent to him, to fight in the Labyrinth against the Minotaur, which was the fruit of an intrigue of his wife Pasiphae with a white bull which Neptune had sent out of the sea. They added, that Daedalus favoured this extraordinary passion of the queen; and that Venus inspired Pasiphae with it, to be revenged for having been surprised with Mars by Apollo, her father. Plato, Plutarch, and other writers acknowledge that these stories were invented from the hatred which the Greeks bore to the king of Crete.

As, however, these extravagant fables have generally some foundation in fact, we are informed by Servius, Tzetzes, and Zenobius, that, in the absence of Minos, Pasiphae fell in love with a young noble of the Cretan court, named Taurus, who, according to Plutarch, was the commander of the fleet of Minos; that Daedalus, their confidant, allowed their assignations to take place in his house, and that the queen was afterwards delivered of twins, of which the one resembled Minos, and the other Taurus. This, according to those authors, was the foundation of the story as to the fate for which the young Athenians were said to be destined. Philochorus, quoted by Plutarch, says that Minos instituted funeral games in honour of his son Androgeus, and that those who were vanquished became the slaves of the conquerors. That author adds, that Taurus was the first who won all the prizes in these games, and that he used the unfortunate Athenians, who became his slaves, with great barbarity. Aristotle tells us that the tribute was paid three times by the Athenians, and that the lives of the captives were spent in the most dreadful servitude.

Daedalus, on returning into Crete, built a labyrinth there, in which, very probably, these games were celebrated. Palaephatus, however, says that Theseus fought in a cavern, where the son of Taurus had been confined. Plutarch and Catullus say, that Theseus voluntarily offered to go to Crete with the other Athenians, while Diodorus Siculus says that the lot fell on him to be of the number. His delivery by Ariadne, through her giving him the thread, is probably a poetical method of informing us that she gave her lover the plan of the labyrinth where he was confined, that he might know its windings and the passage out. Eustathius, indeed, says, that Ariadne received a thread from Daedalus; but he must mean a plan of the labyrinth, which he himself had designed. The story of Ariadne's intercourse with Bacchus is most probably founded on the fact, that on arriving at the Isle of Naxos, when she was deserted by Theseus, she became the wife of a priest of Bacchus.

FABLE III. [VIII.183-259]

Daedalus, weary of his exile, finds means, by making himself wings, to escape out of Crete. His son Icarus, forgetting the advice of his father, and flying too high, the Sun melts his wings, and he perishes in the sea, which afterwards bore his name. The sister of Daedalus commits her son Perdix to his care, for the purpose of being educated. Daedalus, being jealous of the talent of his nephew, throws him from a tower, with the intention of killing him; but Minerva supports him in his fall, and transforms him into a partridge.

In the meantime, Daedalus, abhorring Crete and his prolonged exile,[16] and inflamed by the love of his native soil, was enclosed {there} by the sea. "Although Minos," said he, "may beset the land and the sea, still the skies, at least, are open. By that way will we go: let Minos possess everything {besides}: he does not sway the air." {Thus} he spoke; and he turned his thoughts to arts unknown {till then}; and varied {the course} {of} nature. For he arranges feathers in order, beginning from the least, the shorter one succeeding the longer; so that you might suppose they grew on an incline. Thus does the rustic pipe sometimes rise by degrees, with unequal straws. Then he binds those in the middle with thread, and the lowermost ones with wax; and, thus ranged, with a gentle curvature, he bends them, so as to imitate real {wings of} birds. His son Icarus stands together with him; and, ignorant that he is handling {the source of} danger to himself, with a smiling countenance, he sometimes catches at the feathers which the shifting breeze is ruffling; and, at other times, he softens the yellow wax with his thumb; and, by his playfulness, he retards the wondrous work of his father.

After the finishing hand was put to the work, the workman himself poised his own body upon the two wings, and hung suspended in the beaten air. He provided his son {with them} as well; and said to him, "Icarus, I recommend thee to keep the middle tract; lest, if thou shouldst go too low, the water should clog thy wings; if too high, the fire {of the sun} should scorch them. Fly between both; and I bid thee neither to look at Bootes, nor Helice,[17] nor the drawn sword of Orion. Under my guidance, take thy way." At the same time, he delivered him rules for flying, and fitted the untried wings to his shoulders. Amid his work and his admonitions, the cheeks of the old man were wet, and the hands of the father trembled. He gives kisses to his son, never again to be repeated; and, raised upon his wings, he flies before, and is concerned for his companion, just as the bird which has led forth her tender young from the lofty nest into the air. And he encourages him to follow, and instructs him in the fatal art, and both moves his own wings himself, and looks back on those of his son. A person while he is angling for fish with his quivering rod, or the shepherd leaning on his crook, or the ploughman on the plough tail, when he beholds them, is astonished, and believes them to be Divinities, who thus can cleave the air. And now Samos,[18] sacred to Juno, and Delos, and Paros, were left behind to the left hand. On the right were Lebynthus,[19] and Calymne,[20] fruitful in honey; when the boy began to be pleased with a bolder flight, and forsook his guide; and, touched with a desire of reaching heaven, pursued his course still higher. The vicinity of the scorching Sun softened the fragrant wax that fastened his wings. The wax was melted; he shook his naked arms, and, wanting his oar-like wings, he caught no {more} air. His face, too, as he called on the name of his father, was received in the azure water, which received its name[21] from him.

But the unhappy father, now no more a father, said, "Icarus, where art thou? In what spot shall I seek thee, Icarus?" did he say; {when} he beheld his wings in the waters, and {then} he cursed his own arts; and he buried his body in a tomb, and the land was called from the name of him buried there. As he was laying the body of his unfortunate son in the tomb, a prattling partridge beheld him from a branching holm-oak,[22] and, by its notes, testified its delight. 'Twas then but a single bird {of its kind}, and never seen in former years, and, lately made a bird, was a grievous reproof, Daedalus, to thee. For, ignorant {of the decrees} of fate, his sister had entrusted her son to be instructed by him, a boy who had passed twice six birthdays, with a mind eager for instruction. 'Twas he, too, who took the backbones observed in the middle of the fish, for an example, and cut {a} continued {row of} teeth in iron, with a sharp edge, and {thus} discovered the use of the saw.

He was the first, too, that bound two arms of iron to one centre, that, being divided {and} of equal length, the one part might stand fixed, {and} the other might describe a circle. Daedalus was envious, and threw him headlong from the sacred citadel of Minerva, falsely pretending that he had fallen {by accident}. But Pallas, who favours ingenuity, received him, and made him a bird; and, in the middle of the air, he flew upon wings. Yet the vigour of his genius, once so active, passed into his wings and into his feet; his name, too, remained the same as before. Yet this bird does not raise its body aloft, nor make its nest in the branches and the lofty tops {of trees, but} flies near the ground, and lays its eggs in hedges: and, mindful of its former fall, it dreads the higher regions.

[Footnote 16: His prolonged exile.—Ver. 184. Daedalus had been exiled for murdering one of his scholars in a fit of jealousy; probably Perdix, his nephew, whose story is related by Ovid.]

[Footnote 17: Helice.—Ver. 207. This was another name of the Constellation called the Greater Bear, into which Calisto had been changed.]

[Footnote 18: Samos.—Ver. 220. This island, off the coast of Caria in Asia Minor, was famous as the birth-place of Juno, and the spot where she was married to Jupiter. She had a famous temple there.]

[Footnote 19: Lebynthus.—Ver. 222. This island was one of the Cyclades, or, according to some writers, one of the Sporades, a group that lay between the Cyclades and Crete.]

[Footnote 20: Calymne.—Ver. 222. This island was near Rhodes. Its honey is praised by Strabo.]

[Footnote 21: Received its name.—Ver. 230. The island of Samos being near the spot where he fell, received the name of Icaria.]

[Footnote 22: Branching holm oak.—Ver. 237. Ovid here forgot that partridges do not perch in trees; a fact, which, however, he himself remarks in line 257.]


Daedalus was a talented Athenian, of the family of Erechtheus; and he was particularly famed for his skill in statuary and architecture. He became jealous of the talents of his nephew, Talos, whom Ovid here calls Perdix; and, envying his inventions of the saw, the compasses, and the art of turning, he killed him privately. Flying to Crete, he was favourably received by Minos, who was then at war with the Athenians. He there built the Labyrinth, as Pliny the Elder asserts, after the plan of that in Egypt, which is described by Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, and Strabo. Philochorus, however, as quoted by Plutarch, says that it did not resemble the Labyrinth of Egypt, and that it was only a prison in which criminals were confined.

Minos, being informed that Daedalus had assisted Pasiphae in carrying out her criminal designs, kept him in prison; but escaping thence, by the aid of Pasiphae, he embarked in a ship which she had prepared for him. Using sails, which till then, according to Pausanias and Palaephatus, were unknown, he escaped from the galleys of Minos, which were provided with oars only. Icarus, either fell into the sea, or, overpowered with the fatigues of the voyage, died near an island in the Archipelago, which afterwards received his name. These facts have been disguised by the poets under the ingenious fiction of the wings, and the neglect of Icarus to follow his father's advice, as here related.

FABLE IV. [VIII.260-546]

Diana, offended at the neglect of Oeneus, king of Calydon, when performing his vows to the Gods, sends a wild boar to ravage his dominions; on which Oeneus assembled the princes of the country for its pursuit. His son Meleager leads the chase, and, having killed the monster, presents its head to his mistress, Atalanta, the daughter of the king of Arcadia. He afterwards kills his two uncles, Plexippus and Toxeus, who would deprive her of this badge of his victory. Their sister Althaea, the mother of Meleager, filled with grief at their death, loads her son with execrations; and, remembering the torch which she received from the Fates at his birth, and on which the preservation of his life depends, she throws it into the fire. As soon as it is consumed, Meleager expires in the greatest torments. His sisters mourn over his body, until Diana changes them into birds.

And now the AEtnaean land received Daedalus in his fatigue; and Cocalus,[23] taking up arms for him as he entreated, was commended for his kindness. {And} now Athens has ceased to pay her mournful tribute, through the exploits of Theseus. The temples are decked with garlands, and they invoke warlike Minerva, with Jupiter and the other Gods, whom they adore with the blood {of victims} vowed, and with presents offered, and censers[24] of frankincense. Wandering Fame had spread the renown of Theseus throughout the Argive cities, and the nations which rich Achaia contained, implored his aid amid great dangers. Calydon, {too}, although it had Meleager,[25] suppliantly addressed him with anxious entreaties. The occasion of asking {aid} was a boar, the servant and the avenger of Diana in her wrath.

For they say that Oeneus, for the blessings of a plenteous year, had offered the first fruits of the corn to Ceres, to Bacchus his wine, and the Palladian juice[26] {of olives} to the yellow-haired Minerva. These invidious honours commencing with the rural {Deities}, were continued to all the Gods above; they say that the altars of the daughter of Latona, who was omitted, were alone left without frankincense. Wrath affects even the Deities. "But {this}," says she, "I will not tamely put up with; and I, who am thus dishonoured, will not be said to be unrevenged {as well}:" and she sends a boar as an avenger throughout the lands of Oeneus, than which not even does verdant Epirus[27] possess bulls of greater size; even the fields of Sicily have them of less magnitude. His eyes shine with blood and flames, his rough neck is stiff; bristles, too,[28] stand up, like spikes, thickly set; like palisades[29] do those bristles project, just like high spikes. Boiling foam, with a harsh noise, flows down his broad shoulders; his tusks rival the tusks of India. Thunders issue from his mouth; the foliage is burnt up with the blast. One while he tramples down the corn in the growing blade, and crops the expectations of the husbandman, doomed to lament, as yet unripe, and he intercepts the corn in the ear. In vain does the threshing floor, and in vain do the barns await the promised harvest. The heavy grapes, with the long branches of the vine, are scattered about, and the berries with the boughs of the ever-green olive. He vents his fury, too, upon the flocks. These, neither dogs nor shepherds {can protect}; not {even} the fierce bulls are able to defend the herds. The people fly in all directions, and do not consider themselves safe, but in the walls of a city, until Meleager, and, together {with him}, a choice body of youths, unite from a desire for fame.

The two sons of Tyndarus,[30] the one famous for boxing, the other for his skill in horsemanship; Jason, too, the builder of the first ship, and Theseus, with Pirithoues,[31] happy unison, and the two sons of Thestius,[32] and Lynceus,[33] the son of Aphareus, and the swift Idas, and Caeneus,[34] now no longer a woman; and the valiant Leucippus,[35] and Acastus,[36] famous for the dart, and Hippothoues,[37] and Dryas,[38] and Phoenix,[39] the son of Amyntor, and the two sons of Actor,[40] and Phyleus,[41] sent from Elis, {are there}. Nor is Telamon[42] absent; the father, too, of the great Achilles;[43] and with the son of Pheres,[44] and the Hyantian Iolaues,[45] the active Eurytion,[46] and Echion,[47] invincible in the race, and the Narycian Lelex,[48] and Panopeus,[49] and Hyleus,[50] and bold Hippasus,[51] and Nestor,[52] now but in his early years. Those, too, whom Hippocoon[53] sent from ancient Amyclae,[54] and the father-in-law of Penelope,[55] with the Parrhasian Ancaeus,[56] and the sage son of Ampycus,[57] and the descendant of Oeclus,[58] as yet safe from his wife, and Tegeaean[59] {Atalanta}, the glory of the Lycaean groves. A polished buckle fastened the top of her robe; her plain hair was gathered into a single knot. The ivory keeper of her weapons rattled, hanging from her left shoulder; her left hand, too, held a bow. Such was her dress, and her face such as you might say, with reason, was that of a maid in a boy, that of a boy in a maid. Her the Calydonian hero both beheld, and at the same moment sighed for her, against the will of the God; and he caught the latent flame, and said, "Oh, happy {will he be}, if she shall vouchsafe {to make} any one her husband." The occasion and propriety allow him to say no more; the greater deeds of the mighty contest {now} engage him.

A wood, thick with trees, which no age has cut down, rises from a plain, and looks down upon the fields below. After the heroes are come there, some extend the nets; some take the couples off the dogs, some follow close the traces of his feet, and are anxious to discover their own danger. There is a hollow channel, along which rivulets of rain water are wont to discharge themselves. The bending willows cover the lower parts of the cavity, and smooth sedges, and marshy rushes, and oziers, and thin reeds with their long stalks. Aroused from this spot, the boar rushes violently into the midst of the enemy, like lightning darted from the bursting clouds. In his onset the grove is laid level, and the wood, borne down, makes a crashing noise. The young men raise a shout, and with strong right hands hold their weapons extended before them, brandished with their broad points. Onward he rushes, and disperses the dogs, as any one {of them} opposes his career; and scatters them, as they bark {at him}, with sidelong wounds. The spear that was first hurled by the arm of Echion, was unavailing, and made a slight incision in the trunk of a maple tree. The next, if it had not employed too much of the strength of him who threw it, seemed as if it would stick in the back it was aimed at: it went beyond. The owner of the weapon was the Pagasaean Jason. "Phoebus," said the son of Ampycus,[60] "if I have worshipped thee, and if I do worship thee, grant me {the favour} to reach what is {now} aimed at, with unerring weapon." The God consented to his prayer, so far as he could. The boar was struck by him, but without a wound; Diana took the steel head from off the flying weapon; the shaft reached him without the point. The rage of the monster was aroused, and not less violently was he inflamed than the lightnings; light darted from his eyes, and flame was breathed from his breast. As the stone flies, launched by the tightened rope, when it is aimed[61] at either walls, or towers filled with soldiers, with the like unerring onset is the destroying boar borne on among the youths, and lays upon the ground Eupalamus and Pelagon,[62] who guard the right wing. {Thus} prostrate, their companions bear them off. But Enaesimus, the son of Hippocoon, does not escape a deadly wound. The sinews of his knee, cut {by the boar}, fail him as he trembles, and prepares to turn his back.

Perhaps, too, the Pylian {Nestor} would have perished[63] before the times of the Trojan {war}: but taking a spring, by means of his lance, planted {in the ground}, he leaped into the branches of a tree that was standing close by, and, safe in his position, looked down upon the enemy which he had escaped. He, having whetted his tusk on the trunk of an oak, fiercely stood, ready for their destruction; and, trusting to his weapons newly pointed, gored the thigh of the great Othriades[64] with his crooked tusks. But the two brothers, not yet made Constellations of the heavens, distinguished from the rest, were borne upon horses whiter than the bleached snow; {and} both were brandishing the points of their lances, poised in the air, with a tremulous motion. They would have inflicted wounds, had not the bristly {monster} entered the shady wood, a place penetrable by neither weapons nor horses. Telamon pursues him; and, heedless in the heat of pursuit, falls headlong, tripped up by the root of a tree. While Peleus[65] is lifting him up, the Tegeaean damsel fits a swift arrow to the string, and, bending the bow, lets it fly. Fixed under the ear of the beast, the arrow razes the surface of the skin, and dyes the bristles red with a little blood. And not more joyful is she at the success of her aim than Meleager is.

He is supposed to have observed it first, and first to have pointed out the blood to his companions, and to have said, "Thou shalt receive due honour for thy bravery." The heroes blush {in emulation}; and they encourage one another, and raise their spirits with shouts, and discharge their weapons without any order. Their {very} multitude is a hindrance to those that are thrown, and it baffles the blow for which it is designed. Behold! the Arcadian,[66] wielding his battle-axe, rushing madly on to his fate, said, "Learn, O youths, how much the weapons of men excel those of women, and give way for my achievement. Though the daughter of Latona herself should protect him by her own arms, still, in spite of Diana, shall my right hand destroy him." Such words did he boastingly utter with self-confident lips; and lifting his double-edged axe with both hands, he stood erect upon tiptoe. The beast seized him {thus} bold, and, where there is the nearest way to death, directed his two tusks to the upper part of his groin. Ancaeus fell; and his bowels, twisted, rush forth, falling with plenteous blood, and the earth was soaked with gore. Pirithoues, the son of Ixion, was advancing straight against the enemy, shaking his spear in his powerful right hand. To him the son of AEgeus, at a distance, said, "O thou, dearer to me than myself; stop, thou better part of my soul; we may be valiant at a distance: his rash courage was the destruction of Ancaeus." {Thus} he spoke, and he hurled his lance of cornel wood, heavy with its brazen point; which, well poised, and likely to fulfil his desires, a leafy branch of a beech-tree opposed.

The son of AEson, too, hurled his javelin, which {unlucky} chance turned away from {the beast}, to the destruction of an unoffending dog, and running through his entrails, it was pinned through {those} entrails into the earth. But the hand of the son of Oeneus has different success; and of two discharged by him, the first spear is fastened in the earth, the second in the middle of his back. There is no delay; while he rages, while he is wheeling his body round, and pouring forth foam, hissing with the fresh blood, the giver of the wound comes up, and provokes his adversary to fury, and buries his shining hunting spear in his opposite shoulder. His companions attest their delight in an encouraging shout, and in their right hands endeavour to grasp the conquering right hand; and with wonder they behold the huge beast as he lies upon a large space of ground, and they do not deem it safe as yet to touch him; but yet they, each of them, stain their weapons with his blood. {Jason} himself, placing his foot upon it, presses his frightful head, and thus he says: "Receive, Nonacrian Nymph, the spoil that is my right; and let my glory be shared by thee." Immediately he gives her the skin as the spoil, thick with the stiffening bristles, and the head remarkable for the huge tusks. The giver of the present, as well as the present, is a {source} of pleasure to her. The others envy her, and there is a murmuring throughout the whole company. Of these, stretching out their arms, with a loud voice, the sons of Thestius cry out, "Come, lay them down, and do not thou, a woman, interfere with our honours; let not thy confidence in thy beauty deceive thee, and let the donor, seized with this passion for thee, keep at a distance." And {then} from her they take the present, {and} from him the right {of disposing} of the present.

The warlike[67] {prince} did not brook it, and, indignant with swelling rage, he said, "Learn, ye spoilers of the honour that belongs to another, how much deeds differ from threats;" and, with his cruel sword, he pierced the breast of Plexippus, dreading no such thing. Nor suffered he Toxeus, who was doubtful what to do, and both wishful to avenge his brother, and fearing his brother's fate, long to be in doubt; but a second time warmed his weapon, reeking with the former slaughter, in the blood of the brother.

Althaea was carrying gifts to the temples of the Gods, her son being victorious, when she beheld her slain brothers carried off {from the field}: uttering a shriek, she filled the city with her sad lamentations, and assumed black garments in exchange for her golden ones. But soon as the author of their death was made known, all grief vanished; and from tears it was turned to a thirst for vengeance. There was a billet, which, when the daughter of Thestius was lying in labour {with her son}, the three Sisters, {the Fates}, placed in the flames, and spinning the fatal threads, with their thumbs pressed upon them, they said, "We give to thee, O new-born {babe}, and to this wood, the same period {of existence}." Having uttered this charm, the Goddesses departed; {and} the mother snatched the flaming brand from the fire, and sprinkled it with flowing water. Long had it been concealed in her most retired apartment; and being {thus} preserved, had preserved, O youth, thy life. This {billet} the mother {now} brings forth, and orders torches to be heaped on broken pieces {of wood}; and when heaped, applies to them the hostile flames. Then four times essaying to lay the branch upon the flames, four times does she pause in the attempt. Both the mother and the sister struggle hard, and the two different titles influence her breast in different ways. Often is her countenance pale with apprehension of the impending crime; often does rage, glowing in her eyes, produce its red colour. And one while is her countenance like that of one making some cruel threat or other; at another moment, such as you could suppose to be full of compassion. And when the fierce heat of her feelings has dried up her tears, still are tears found {to flow}. Just as the ship, which the wind and a tide running contrary to the wind, seize, is sensible of the double assault, and unsteadily obeys them both; no otherwise does the daughter of Thestius fluctuate between {two} varying affections, and in turn lays by her anger, and rouses it again, {when thus} laid by. Still, the sister begins to get the better of the parent; and that, with blood she may appease the shades of her relations, in her unnatural conduct she proves affectionate.

For after the pernicious flames gained strength, she said, "Let this funeral pile consume my entrails." And as she was holding the fatal billet in her ruthless hand, she stood, in her wretchedness, before the sepulchral altars,[68] and said, "Ye Eumenides,[69] the three Goddesses of punishment, turn your faces towards these baleful rites; I am both avenging and am committing a crime. With death must death be expiated; crime must be added to crime, funeral to funeral; by accumulated calamities, let this unnatural race perish. Shall Oeneus, in happiness, be blessed in his victorious son; and shall Thestius be childless? It is better that you both should mourn. Only do ye, ghosts of my brothers, phantoms newly made, regard this my act of affection, and receive this funeral offering,[70] provided at a cost so great, the guilty pledge of my womb. Ah, wretched me! Whither am I hurried away? Pardon, my brothers, {the feelings of} a mother. My hands fail me in my purpose, I confess that he deserves to die; but the author of his death is repugnant to me. Shall he then go unpunished? Alive and victorious, and flushed with his success, shall he possess the realms of Calydon? {And} shall you lie, a little heap of ashes, and {as} lifeless phantoms? For my part, I will not endure this. Let the guilty wretch perish, and let him carry along with him the hopes of his father,[71] and the ruin of his kingdom and country. {But} where are the feelings of a mother, where are the affectionate ties of the parent? Where, too, are the pangs which for twice five months[72] I have endured? Oh, that thou hadst been burnt, when an infant, in that first fire! And would that I had allowed it! By my aid hast thou lived; now, for thy own deserts, shalt thou die. Take the reward of thy deeds; and return to me that life which was twice given thee, first at thy birth, next when the billet was rescued; or else place me as well in the tomb of my brothers. I both desire {to do it}, and I am unable. What shall I do? one while the wounds of my brothers are before my eyes, and the form of a murder so dreadful; at another time, affection and the name of mother break my resolution. Wretch that I am! To my sorrow, brothers, will you prevail; but {still} prevail; so long as I myself shall follow the appeasing sacrifice that I shall give you, and you yourselves;" she {thus} said, and turning herself away, with trembling right hand she threw the fatal brand into the midst of the flames.

That billet either utters, or seems to utter, a groan, and, caught by the reluctant flames, it is consumed. Unsuspecting, and at a distance, Meleager is burned by that flame, and feels his entrails scorched by the secret fires; but with fortitude he supports the mighty pain. Still, he grieves that he dies by an inglorious death, and without {shedding his} blood, and says that the wounds of Ancaeus were a happy lot. And while, with a sigh, he calls upon his aged father, and his brother, and his affectionate sisters, and with his last words the companion of his bed,[73] perhaps, too, his mother {as well}; the fire and his torments increase; and {then} again do they diminish. Both of them are extinguished together, and by degrees his spirit vanishes into the light air.

Lofty Calydon {now} lies prostrate. Young and old mourn, both people and nobles lament; and the Calydonian matrons of Evenus,[74] tearing their hair, bewail him. Lying along upon the ground, his father pollutes his white hair and his aged features with dust, and chides his prolonged existence. But her own hand, conscious to itself of the ruthless deed, exacted punishment of the mother, the sword piercing her entrails.[75] If a God had given me a mouth sounding with a hundred tongues, and an enlarged genius, and the whole of Helicon {besides}; {still} I could not enumerate the mournful expressions of his unhappy sisters. Regardless of shame, they beat their livid bosoms, and while the body {still} exists, they embrace it, and embrace it again; they give kisses to it, {and} they give kisses to the bier {there} set. After {he is reduced to} ashes, they pour them, when gathered up, to their breasts; and they lie prostrate around the tomb, and kissing his name cut out in the stone, they pour their tears upon his name. Them, the daughter of Latona, at length satiated with the calamities of the house of Parthaon,[76] bears aloft on wings springing from their bodies, except Gorge,[77] and the daughter-in-law of noble Alcmena; and she stretches long wings over their arms, and makes their mouths horny, and sends them, {thus} transformed, through the air.

[Footnote 23: Cocalus.—Ver. 261. He was the king of Sicily, who received Daedalus with hospitality.]

[Footnote 24: And censers.—Ver. 265. Acerris. The 'acerra' was properly a box used for holding incense for the purposes of sacrifice, which was taken from it, and placed on the burning altar. According to Festus, the word meant a small altar, which was placed before the dead, and on which perfumes were burnt. The Law of the Twelve Tables restricted the use of 'acerrae' at funerals.]

[Footnote 25: Meleager.—Ver. 270. He was the son of Oeneus, king of Calydon, a city of AEtolia, who had offended Diana by neglecting her rites.]

[Footnote 26: Palladian juice.—Ver. 275. Oil, the extraction of which, from the olive, Minerva had taught to mortals.]

[Footnote 27: Epirus.—Ver. 283. This country, sometimes also called Chaonia, was on the north of Greece, between Macedonia, Thessaly, and the Ionian sea, comprising the greater part of what is now called Albania. It was famous for its oxen. According to Pliny the Elder, Pyrrhus, its king, paid particular attention to improving the breed.]

[Footnote 28: Bristles too.—Ver. 285. This line, or the following one, is clearly an interpolation, and ought to be omitted.]

[Footnote 29: Palisades.—Ver. 286. The word 'vallum' is found applied either to the whole, or a portion only, of the fortifications of a Roman camp. It is derived from 'vallus,' 'a stake;' and properly means the palisade which ran along the outer edge of the 'agger,' or 'mound:' but it frequently includes the 'agger' also. The 'vallum,' in the latter sense, together with the 'fossa,' or 'ditch,' which surrounded the camp outside of the 'vallum,' formed a complete fortification.]

[Footnote 30: Sons of Tyndarus.—Ver. 301. These were Castor and Pollux, the putative sons of Tyndarus, but really the sons of Jupiter, who seduced Leda under the form of a swan. According to some, however, Pollux only was the son of Jupiter. Castor was skilled in horsemanship, while Pollux excelled in the use of the cestus.]

[Footnote 31: Pirithoues.—Ver. 303. He was the son of Ixion of Larissa, and the bosom friend of Theseus.]

[Footnote 32: Sons of Thestius.—Ver. 304. These were Toxeus and Plexippus, the uncles of Meleager, and the brothers of Althaea, who avenged their death in the manner afterwards described by Ovid. Pausanias calls them Prothoues and Cometes. Lactantius adds a third, Agenor.]

[Footnote 33: Lynceus.—Ver. 304. Lynceus and Idas were the sons of Aphareus. From his skill in physical science, the former was said to be able to see into the interior of the earth.]

[Footnote 34: Caeneus.—Ver. 305. This person was originally a female, by name Caenis. At her request, she was changed by Neptune into a man, and was made invulnerable. Her story is related at length in the 12th book of the Metamorphoses.]

[Footnote 35: Leucippus.—Ver. 306. He was the son of Perieres, and the brother of Aphareus. His daughters were Elaira, or Ilaira, and Phoebe, whom Castor and Pollux attempted to carry off.]

[Footnote 36: Acastus.—Ver. 306. He was the son of Pelias, king of Thessaly.]

[Footnote 37: Hippothoues.—Ver. 307. According to Hyginus, he was the son of Geryon, or rather, according to Pausanias, of Cercyon.]

[Footnote 38: Dryas.—Ver. 307. The son of Mars, or, according to some writers, of Iapetus.]

[Footnote 39: Phoenix.—Ver. 307. He was the son of Amyntor. Having engaged in an intrigue, by the contrivance of his mother, with his father's mistress, he fled to the court of Peleus, king of Thessaly, who entrusted to him the education of Achilles, and the command of the Dolopians. He attended his pupil to the Trojan war, and became blind in his latter years.]

[Footnote 40: Two sons of Actor.—Ver. 308. These were Eurytus and Cteatus, the sons of Actor, of Elis. They were afterwards slain by Hercules.]

[Footnote 41: Phyleus.—Ver. 308. He was the son of Augeas, king of Elis, whose stables were cleansed by Hercules.]

[Footnote 42: Telamon.—Ver. 309. He was the son of AEacus. Ajax Telamon was his son.]

[Footnote 43: Great Achilles.—Ver. 309. His father was Peleus, the brother of Ajax, and the son of AEacus and AEgina. Peleus was famed for his chastity.]

[Footnote 44: The son of Pheres.—Ver. 310. This was Admetus, the son of Pheres, of Pherae, in Thessaly.]

[Footnote 45: Hyantian Iolaues.—Ver. 310. Iolaues, the Boeotian, the son of Iphiclus, aided Hercules in slaying the Hydra.]

[Footnote 46: Eurytion.—Ver. 311. He was the son of Irus, and attended the Argonautic expedition.]

[Footnote 47: Echion.—Ver. 311. He was an Arcadian, the son of Mercury and the Nymph Antianira, and was famous for his speed.]

[Footnote 48: Narycian Lelex.—Ver. 312. So called from Naryx, a city of the Locrians.]

[Footnote 49: Panopeus.—Ver. 312. He was the son of Phocus, who built the city of Panopaea, in Phocis, and was the father of Epytus, who constructed the Trojan horse.]

[Footnote 50: Hyleus.—Ver. 312. According to Callimachus, he was slain, together with Rhoetus, by Atalanta, for making an attempt upon her virtue.]

[Footnote 51: Hippasus.—Ver. 313. He was a son of Eurytus.]

[Footnote 52: Nestor.—Ver. 313. He was the son of Neleus and Chloris. He was king of Pylos, and went to the Trojan war in his ninetieth, or, as some writers say, in his two hundredth year.]

[Footnote 53: Hippocoon.—Ver. 314. He was the son of Amycus. He sent his four sons, Enaesimus, Alcon, Amycus, and Dexippus, to hunt the Calydonian boar. The first was killed by the monster, and the other three, with their father, were afterwards slain by Hercules.]

[Footnote 54: Amyclae.—Ver. 314. This was an ancient city of Laconia, built by Amycla, the son of Lacedaemon.]

[Footnote 55: Of Penelope.—Ver. 315. This was Laertes, the father of Ulysses, the husband of Penelope, and king of Ithaca.]

[Footnote 56: Ancaeus.—Ver. 315. He was an Arcadian, the son of Lycurgus.]

[Footnote 57: Son of Ampycus.—Ver. 316. Ampycus was the son of Titanor, and the father of Mopsus, a famous soothsayer.]

[Footnote 58: Descendant Oeclus.—Ver. 317. This was Amphiaraues, who, having the gift of prophecy, foresaw that he would not live to return from the Theban war; and, therefore, hid himself, that he might not be obliged to join in the expedition. His wife, Eriphyle, being bribed by Adrastus with a gold necklace, betrayed his hiding-place; on which, proceeding to Thebes, he was swallowed up in the earth, together with his chariot. Ovid refers here to the treachery of his wife.]

[Footnote 59: Tegeaean.—Ver. 317. Atalanta was the daughter of Iasius, and was a native of Tegeaea, in Arcadia. She was the mother of Parthenopaeus, by Meleager. She is thought, by some, to have been a different person from Atalanta, the daughter of Schoeneus, famed for her swiftness in running, who is mentioned in the tenth book of the Metamorphoses.]

[Footnote 60: Son of Ampycus.—Ver. 350. Mopsus was a priest of Apollo.]

[Footnote 61: When it is aimed.—Ver. 357. When discharged from the 'balista,' or 'catapulta,' or other engine of war.]

[Footnote 62: Eupalamus and Pelagon.—Ver. 360. They are not previously named in the list of combatants; and nothing further is known of them.]

[Footnote 63: Would have perished.—Ver. 365. What is here told of Nestor, one of the Commentators on Homer attributes to Thersites, who, according to him, being the son of Agrius, the uncle of Meleager, was present on this occasion.]

[Footnote 64: Othriades.—Ver. 371. Nothing further is known of him.]

[Footnote 65: Peleus.—Ver. 375. According to Apollodorus, Peleus accidentally slew Eurytion on this occasion.]

[Footnote 66: The Arcadian.—Ver. 391. This was Ancaeus, who is mentioned before, in line 215.]

[Footnote 67: Warlike.—Ver. 437. 'Mavortius' may possibly mean 'the son of Mars,' as, according to Hyginus, Mars was engaged in an intrigue with Althaea.]

[Footnote 68: Sepulchral altars.—Ver. 480. The 'sepulchralis ara' is the funeral pile, which was built in the form of an altar, with four equal sides. Ovid also calls it 'funeris ara,' in the Tristia, book iii. Elegy xiii. line 21.]

[Footnote 69: Eumenides.—Ver. 482. This name properly signifies 'the well-disposed,' or 'wellwishers,' and was applied to the Furies by way of euphemism, it being deemed unlucky to mention their names.]

[Footnote 70: Funeral offering.—Ver. 490. The 'inferiae' were sacrifices offered to the shades of the dead. The Romans appear to have regarded the souls of the departed as Gods; for which reason they presented them wine, milk, and garlands, and offered them victims in sacrifice.]

[Footnote 71: Hopes of his father.—Ver. 498. Oeneus had other sons besides Meleager, who were slain in the war that arose in consequence of the death of Plexippus and Toxeus. Nicander says they were five in number; Apollodorus names but three, Toxeus, Tyreus, and Clymenus.]

[Footnote 72: Twice five months.—Ver. 500. That is, lunar months.]

[Footnote 73: Of his bed.—Ver. 521. Antoninus Liberalis calls her Cleopatra, but Hyginus says that her name was Alcyone. Homer, however, reconciles this discrepancy, by saying that the original name of the wife of Meleager was Cleopatra, but that she was called Alcyone, because her mother had the same fate as Alcyone, or Halcyone.]

[Footnote 74: Evenus.—Ver. 527. Evenus was a river of AEtolia.]

[Footnote 75: Piercing her entrails.—Ver. 531. Hyginus says that she hanged herself.]

[Footnote 76: Parthaon.—Ver. 541. Parthaon was the grandfather of Meleager and his sisters, Oeneus being his son.]

[Footnote 77: Gorge.—Ver. 542. Gorge married Andraemon, and Deianira was the wife of Hercules, the son of Alcmena. The two sisters of Meleager who were changed into birds were Eurymede and Melanippe.]


It is generally supposed that the story of the chase of the Calydonian boar, though embracing much of the fabulous, is still based upon historical facts. Homer, in the 9th book of the Iliad, alludes to it, though in somewhat different terms from the account here given by Ovid; and from the ancient historians we learn, that Oeneus, offering the first fruits to the Gods, forgot Diana in his sacrifices. A wild boar, the same year having ravaged some part of his dominions, and particularly a vineyard, on the cultivation of which he had bestowed much pains, these circumstances, combined, gave occasion for saying that the boar had been sent by Diana. As the wild beast had killed some country people, Meleager collected the neighbouring nobles, for the purpose of destroying it. Plexippus and Toxeus, having been killed, in the manner mentioned by the Poet, Althaea, their sister, in her grief, devoted her son to the Furies; and, perhaps, having used some magical incantations, the story of the fatal billet was invented.

Homer does not mention the death of Meleager; but, on the contrary, says that his mother, Althaea, was pacified. Some writers, however, think that he really was poisoned by his mother. The story of the change of the sisters of Meleager into birds is only the common poetical fiction, denoting the extent of their grief at the untimely death of their brother.

FABLE V. [VIII.547-610]

Theseus, returning from the chase of the Calydonian boar, is stopped by an inundation of the river Acheloues, and accepts of an invitation from the God of that river, to come to his grotto. After the repast, Acheloues gives him the history of the five Naiads, who had been changed into the islands called Echinades, and an account of his own amour with the Nymph Perimele, whom, being thrown by her father into the sea, Neptune had transformed into an island.

In the meantime, Theseus having performed his part in the joint labour, was going to the Erecthean towers of Tritonis. {But} Acheloues, swollen with rains, opposed his journey,[78] and caused him delay as he was going. "Come," said he, "famous Cecropian, beneath my roof; and do not trust thyself to the rapid floods. They are wont to bear away strong beams, and to roll down stones, as they lie across, with immense roaring. I have seen high folds, contiguous to my banks, swept away, together with the flocks; nor was it of any avail there for the herd to be strong, nor for the horses to be swift. Many bodies, too, of young men has this torrent overwhelmed in its whirling eddies, when the snows of the mountains dissolved. Rest is the safer {for thee}; until the river runs within its usual bounds, until its own channel receives the flowing waters."

To {this} the son of AEgeus agreed; and replied, "I will make use of thy dwelling and of thy advice, Acheloues;" and both he did make use of. He entered an abode built of pumice stone with its many holes, and the sand-stone far from smooth. The floor was moist with soft moss, shells with alternate {rows of} murex arched the roof. And now, Hyperion having measured out two parts of the light, Theseus and the companions of his labours lay down upon couches; on the one side the son of Ixion,[79] on the other, Lelex, the hero of Troezen, having his temples now covered with thin grey hairs; and some others whom the river of the Acarnanians, overjoyed with a guest so great, had graced with the like honour. Immediately, some Nymphs, barefoot, furnished with the banquet the tables that were set before them; and the dainties being removed, they served up wine in {bowls adorned with} gems. Then the mighty hero, surveying the seas that lay beneath his eyes, said, "What place is this?" and he pointed with his finger; "and inform me what name that island bears; although it does not seem to be one only?" In answer to these words, the River said, "It is not, indeed, one object that we see; five countries lie {there}; they deceive through their distance. And that thou mayst be the less surprised at the deeds of the despised Diana, these were Naiads; who, when they had slain twice five bullocks, and had invited the Gods of the country to a sacrifice, kept a joyous festival, regardless of me. {At this} I swelled, and I was as great as I ever am, in my course, when I am the fullest; and, redoubled both in rage and in flood, I tore away woods from woods, and fields from fields; and together with the spot, I hurled the Nymphs[80] into the sea, who then, at last, were mindful of me. My waves and those of the main divided the land, {before} continuous, and separated it into as many parts, as thou seest {islands, called} Echinades, in the midst of the waves.

"But yet, as thou thyself seest from afar, one island, see! was withdrawn far off from the rest, {an island} pleasing to me. The mariner calls it Perimele.[81] This beloved Nymph did I deprive of the name of a virgin. This her father, Hippodamas, took amiss, and pushed the body of his daughter, when about to bring forth, from a rock, into the sea. I received her; and bearing her up when swimming, I said, 'O thou bearer of the Trident, who hast obtained, by lot, next in rank to the heavens, the realms of the flowing waters, in which we sacred rivers end, {and} to which we run; come hither, Neptune, and graciously listen to me, as I pray. Her, whom I am bearing up, I have injured. If her father, Hippodamas, had been mild and reasonable, or if he had been less unnatural, he ought to have pitied her, and to have forgiven me. Give thy assistance; and grant a place, Neptune, I beseech thee, to her, plunged in the waters by the cruelty of her father; or allow her to become a place herself. Her, even, {thus} will I embrace.' The King of the ocean moved his head, and shook all the waters with his assent. The Nymph was afraid; but yet she swam. Her breast, as she was swimming, I myself touched, as it throbbed with a tremulous motion; and while I felt it, I perceived her whole body grow hard, and her breast become covered with earth growing over it. While I was speaking, fresh earth enclosed her floating limbs, and a heavy island grew upon her changed members."

[Footnote 78: Opposed his journey.—Ver. 548. It has been objected to this passage, that the river Acheloues, which rises in Mount Pindus, and divides Acarnania from AEtolia, could not possibly lie in the road of Theseus, as he returned from Calydon to Athens.]

[Footnote 79: Son of Ixion.—Ver. 566. Pirithoues lay on the one side, and Lelex on the other; the latter is called 'Troezenius,' from the fact of his having lived with Pittheus, the king of Troezen.]

[Footnote 80: I hurled the Nymphs.—Ver. 585. Clarke translates 'Nymphas in freta provolvi,' 'I tumbled the nymphs into the sea.']

[Footnote 81: Perimele.—Ver. 590. According to Apollodorus, the name of the wife of Acheloues was Perimede; and she bore him two sons, Hippodamas and Orestes. The Echinades were five small islands in the Ionian Sea, near the coast of Acarnania, which are now called Curzolari.]


This story is simply based upon physical grounds. The river Acheloues, running between Acarnania and AEtolia, and flowing into the Ionian Sea, carried with it a great quantity of sand and mud, which probably formed the islands at its mouth, called the Echinades. The same solution probably applies to the narrative of the fate of the Nymph Perimele.

FABLE VI. [VIII.611-737]

Jupiter and Mercury, disguised in human shape, are received by Philemon and Baucis, after having been refused admittance by their neighbours. The Gods, in acknowledgment of their hospitality, transform their cottage into a temple, of which, at their own request, they are made the priest and priestess; and, after a long life, the worthy couple are changed into trees. The village where they live is laid under water, on account of the impiety of the inhabitants, and is turned into a lake. Acheloues here relates the surprising changes of Proteus.

After these things the river was silent. The wondrous deed had astonished them all. The son of Ixion laughed at them,[82] believing {the story}; and as he was a despiser of the Gods, and of a haughty disposition, he said, "Acheloues, thou dost relate a fiction, and dost deem the Gods more powerful than they are, if they both give and take away the form {of things}." {At this} all were amazed, and did not approve of such language; and before all, Lelex, ripe in understanding and age, spoke thus: "The power of heaven is immense, and has no limits; and whatever the Gods above will, 'tis done.

"And that thou mayst the less doubt {of this}, there is upon the Phrygian hills, an oak near to the lime tree, enclosed by a low wall.[83] I, myself, have seen the spot; for Pittheus sent me into the land of Pelops, once governed by his father, {Pelops}. Not far thence is a standing water, formerly habitable ground, but now frequented by cormorants and coots, that delight in fens. Jupiter came hither in the shape of a man, and together with his parent, the grandson of Atlas, {Mercury}, the bearer of the Caduceus, having laid aside his wings. To a thousand houses did they go, asking for lodging and for rest. A thousand houses did the bolts fasten {against them}. Yet one received them, a small one indeed, thatched with straw,[84] and the reeds of the marsh. But a pious old woman {named} Baucis, and Philemon of a like age, were united in their youthful years in that {cottage}, and in it, they grew old together; and by owning their poverty, they rendered it light, and not to be endured with discontented mind. It matters not, whether you ask for the masters there, or for the servants; the whole family are but two; the same persons both obey and command. When, therefore, the inhabitants of heaven reached this little abode, and, bending their necks, entered the humble door, the old man bade them rest their limbs on a bench set {there}; upon which the attentive Baucis threw a coarse cloth. Then she moves the warm embers on the hearth, and stirs up the fire they had had the day before, and supplies it with leaves and dry bark, and with her aged breath kindles it into a flame; and brings out of the house faggots split into many pieces, and dry bits of branches, and breaks them, and puts them beneath a small boiler. Some pot-herbs, too, which her husband has gathered in the well-watered garden, she strips of their leaves.

"With a two-pronged fork {Philemon} lifts down[85] a rusty side of bacon, that hangs from a black beam; and cuts off a small portion from the chine that has been kept so long; and when cut, softens it in boiling water. In the meantime, with discourse they beguile the intervening hours; and suffer not the length of time to be perceived. There is a beechen trough there, that hangs on a peg by its crooked handle; this is filled with warm water, and receives their limbs to refresh them. On the middle of the couch, its feet and frame[86] being made of willow, is placed a cushion of soft sedge. This they cover with cloths, which they have not been accustomed to place there but on festive occasions; but even these cloths are coarse and old, {though} not unfitting for a couch of willow. The Gods seat themselves. The old woman, wearing an apron, and shaking {with palsy}, sets the table {before them}. But the third leg of the table is too short; a potsherd, {placed beneath}, makes it equal. After this, being placed beneath, has taken away the inequality, green mint rubs down the table {thus} made level. Here are set the double-tinted berries[87] of the chaste Minerva, and cornel-berries, gathered in autumn, {and} preserved in a thin pickle; endive, too, and radishes, and a large piece of curdled milk, and eggs, that have been gently turned in the slow embers; all {served} in earthenware. After this, an embossed goblet of similar clay is placed {there}; cups, too, made of beech wood, varnished, where they are hollowed out, with yellow wax.

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