Book 1


O F bodies chang'd to various forms I sing:
Ye gods, from whom these miracles did spring,
Inspire my numbers with celestial heat;
Till I my long laborious work complete,
And add perpetual tenor to my rhymes,
Deduc'd from nature's birth to Caesar's times.
Before the seas, and this terrestrial ball,
And heav'n's high canopy, that covers all,
One was the face of nature, if a face;
Rather a rude and indigested mass;
A lifeless lump, unfashion'd, and unfram'd,
Of jarring seeds, and justly Chaos nam'd.
No sun was lighted up, the world to view;
No moon did yet her blunted horns renew:
Nor yet was earth suspended in the sky;
Nor, pois'd, did on her own foundations lie:
Nor seas about the shores their arms had thrown,
But earth and air and water were in one.
Thus air was void of light, and earth unstable,
And water's dark abyss unnavigable.
No certain form on any was impress'd;
All were confus'd, and each disturb'd the rest:
For hot and cold were in one body fix'd,
And soft with hard, and light with heavy mix'd.
But God, or Nature, while they thus contend,
To these intestine discords put an end.
Then earth from air, and seas from earth were driv'n,
And grosser air sunk from ethereal heav'n.
Thus disembroil'd, they take their proper place;
The next of kin contiguously embrace,
And foes are sunder'd by a larger space.
The force of fire ascended first on high,
And took its dwelling in the vaulted sky.
Then air succeeds, in lightness next to fire;
Whose atoms from unactive earth retire.
Earth sinks beneath, and draws a numerous throng
Of ponderous, thick, unwieldy seeds along.
About her coasts unruly waters roar.
And, rising on a ridge, insult the shore.
Thus when the God, whatever God was he,
Had form'd the whole, and made the parts agree,
That no unequal portions might be found,
He molded earth into a spacious round;
Then, with a breath, he gave the winds to blow,
And bade the congregated waters flow.
He adds the running springs and standing lakes,
And bounding banks for winding rivers makes.
Some part in earth are swallow'd up, the most
In ample oceans, disimbogued, are lost.
He shades the woods, the valleys he restrains
With rocky mountains, and extends the plains.
And as five zones th' ethereal regions bind,
Five, correspondent, are to earth assign'd:
The sun, with rays directly darting down,
Fires all beneath, and fries the middle zone:
The two beneath the distant poles complain
Of endless winter, and perpetual rain.
Betwixt th' extremes, two happier climates hold
The temper that partakes of hot and cold.
The fields of liquid air, inclosing all,
Surround the compass of this earthly ball;
The lighter parts lie next the fires above,
The grosser near the wat'ry surface move:
Thick clouds are spread, and storms engender there,
And thunder's voice, which wretched mortals fear,
And winds that on their wings cold winter bear.
Nor were those blust'ring brethren left at large,
On seas and shores their fury to discharge:
Bound as they are, and circumscrib'd in place,
They rend the world, resistless, where they pass,
And mighty marks of mischief leave behind;
Such is the rage of their tempestuous kind.
First Eurus to the rising morn is sent,
(The regions of the balmy continent,)
And eastern realms, where early Persians run
To greet the blest appearance of the sun.
Westward the wanton Zephyr wings his flight,
Pleas'd with the remnants of departing light:
Fierce Boreas with his offspring issues forth,
T'invade the frozen Wagon of the North;
While frowning Auster seeks the southern sphere,
And rots, with endless rain, th' unwholesome year.
High o'er the clouds, and empty realms of wind,
The God a clearer space for heav'n design'd;
Where fields of light, and liquid ether flow,
Purg'd from the pond'rous dregs of earth below.
Scarce had the pow'r distinguish'd these, when straight
The stars, no longer overlaid with weight,
Exert their heads from underneath the mass,
And upward shoot, and kindle as they pass,
And with diffusive light adorn their heav'nly place.
Then, every void of nature to supply,
With forms of gods he fills the vacant sky:
New herds of beasts he sends, the plains to share;
New colonies of birds, to people air;
And to their oozy beds the finny fish repair.
A creature of a more exalted kind
Was wanting yet, and then was Man design'd;
Conscious of thought, of more capacious breast,
For empire form'd, and fit to rule the rest:
Whether with particles of heav'nly fire
The God of Nature did his soul inspire;
Or earth, but new divided from the sky,
And pliant still, retain'd the ethereal energy;
Which wise Prometheus temper'd into paste,
And, mix'd with living streams, the godlike image cast.
Thus, while the mute creation downward bend
Their sight, and to their earthy mother tend,
Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes
Beholds his own hereditary skies.
From such rude principles our form began,
And earth was metamorphos'd into man.


The Golden Age was first; when man, yet new,
No rule but uncorrupted reason knew;
And, with a native bent, did good pursue.
Unforc'd by punishment, unaw'd by fear,
His words were simple, and his soul sincere;
Needless was written law, where none oppress'd;
The law of man was written in his breast;
No suppliant crowds before the judge appear'd;
No court erected yet, nor cause was hear'd;
But all was safe, for conscience was their guard.
The mountain trees in distant prospect please,
Ere yet the pine descended to the seas;
Ere sails were spread, new oceans to explore;
And happy mortals, unconcern'd for more,
Confin'd their wishes to their native shore.
No walls were yet, nor fence, nor moat, nor mound;
Nor drum was heard, nor trumpet's angry sound:
Nor swords were forg'd; but, void of care and crime,
The soft creation slept away their time.
The teeming earth, yet guiltless of the plow,
And unprovok'd, did fruitful stores allow:
Content with food, which nature freely bred;
On wildings and on strawberries they fed;
Cornels and bramble berries gave the rest,
And falling acorns furnish'd out a feast.
The flow'rs, unsown, in fields and meadows reign'd,
And western winds immortal spring maintain'd.
In following years the bearded corn ensued
From earth unask'd, nor was that earth renew'd;
From veins of valleys milk and nectar broke,
And honey sweating thro' the pores of oak.


But when good Saturn, banish'd from above,
Was driv'n to hell, the world was under Jove.
Succeeding times a Silver Age behold,
Excelling brass, but more excell'd by gold.
Then Summer, Autumn, Winter did appear;
And Spring was but a season of the year.
The sun his annual course obliquely made,
Good days contracted, and enlarg'd the bad.
Then air with sultry heats began to glow;
The wings of winds were clogg'd with ice and snow;
And shivering mortals, into houses driv'n,
Sought shelter from th' inclemency of heav'n.
Those houses, then, were caves, or homely sheds,
With twining osiers fenc'd, and moss their beds.
Then plows, for seed, the fruitful furrows broke,
And oxen labor'd first beneath the yoke.


To this next came in course the Brazen Age:
A warlike offspring, prompt to bloody rage,
Not impious yet — —


— — Hard Steel succeeded then;
And stubborn as the metal were the men.
Truth, Modesty, and Shame, the world forsook;
Fraud, Avarice, and Force, their places took.
Then sails were spread to every wind that blew;
Raw were the sailors, and the depths were new:
Trees, rudely hollow'd, did the waves sustain,
Ere ships in triumph plow'd the wat'ry plain.
Then landmarks limited to each his right:
For all before was common as the light.
Nor was the ground alone requir'd to bear
Her annual income to the crooked share;
But greedy mortals, rummaging her store,
Digg'd from her entrails first the precious ore,
Which next to hell the prudent gods had laid,
And that alluring ill to sight display'd.
Thus cursed steel, and more accursed gold,
Gave mischief birth, and made that mischief bold;
And double death did wretched man invade,
By steel assaulted, and by gold betray'd.
Now (brandish'd weapons glittering in their hands)
Mankind is broken loose from moral bands;
No rights of hospitality remain:
The guest, by him who harbor'd him, is slain;
The son-in-law pursues the father's life;
The wife her husband murders, he the wife;
The stepdame poison for the son prepares;
The son inquires into his father's years.
Faith flies, and Piety in exile mourns;
And Justice, here oppress'd, to heav'n returns.


Nor were the gods themselves more safe above:
Against beleaguer'd heav'n the giants move.
Hills pil'd on hills, on mountains mountains lie,
To make their mad approaches to the sky.
Till Jove, no longer patient, took his time
T' avenge with thunder their audacious crime:
Red lightning play'd along the firmament,
And their demolish'd works to pieces rent.
Sing'd with the flames, and with the bolts transfix'd,
With native earth their blood the monsters mix'd;
The blood, indued with animating heat,
Did in th' impregnant earth new sons beget:
They, like the seed from which they sprung, accurst,
Against the gods immortal hatred nurs'd:
An impious, arrogant, and cruel brood;
Expressing their original from blood.
Which when the King of Gods beheld from high,
(Withal revolving in his memory
What he himself had found on earth of late,
Lycaon's guilt, and his inhuman treat,)
He sigh'd, nor longer with his pity strove,
But kindled to a wrath becoming Jove:
Then call'd a general council of the gods;
Who, summon'd, issue from their blest abodes,
And fill th' assembly with a shining train.
A way there is in heaven's expanded plain,
Which, when the skies are clear, is seen below,
And mortals by the name of Milky know.
The groundwork is of stars; thro' which the road
Lies open to the Thunderer's abode.
The gods of greater nations dwell around,
And on the right and left the palace bound;
The commons where they can; the nobler sort,
With winding doors wide open, front the court.
This place, as far as earth with heav'n may vie,
I dare to call the Louvre of the sky.
When all were plac'd, in seats distinctly known,
And he, their father, had assum'd the throne,
Upon his iv'ry scepter first he leant,
Then shook his head, that shook the firmament:
Air, earth, and seas, obey'd th' almighty nod;
And with a gen'ral fear confess'd the god.
At length, with indignation, thus he broke
His awful silence, and the pow'rs bespoke:
" I was not more concern'd in that debate
Of empire, when our universal state
Was put to hazard, and the giant race
Our captive skies were ready to imbrace:
For tho' the foe was fierce, the seeds of all
Rebellion sprung from one original;
Now, wheresoever ambient waters glide,
All are corrupt, and all must be destroy'd.
Let me this holy protestation make:
By hell, and hell's inviolable lake,
I tried whatever in the godhead lay;
But gangren'd members must be lopp'd away,
Before the nobler parts are tainted to decay.
There dwells below a race of demigods,
Of nymphs in waters, and of fawns in woods;
Who, tho' not worthy yet in heav'n to live,
Let 'em at least enjoy that earth we give.
Can these be thought securely lodg'd below,
When I myself, who no superior know,
I, who have heav'n and earth at my command,
Have been attempted by Lycaon's hand? "
At this a murmur thro' the synod went,
And with one voice they vote his punishment.
Thus, when conspiring traitors dar'd to doom
The fall of Caesar, and in him of Rome,
The nations trembled with a pious fear;
All anxious for their earthly Thunderer:
Nor was their care, O Caesar, less esteem'd
By thee, than that of heav'n for Jove was deem'd;
Who, with his hand, and voice, did first restrain
Their murmurs, then resum'd his speech again.
The gods to silence were compos'd, and sate
With reverence due to his superior state.
" Cancel your pious cares; already he
Has paid his debt to justice, and to me.
Yet what his crimes, and what my judgments were,
Remains for me thus briefly to declare.
The clamors of this vile degenerate age,
The cries of orphans, and th' oppressor's rage,
Had reach'd the stars: " I will descend," said I,
" In hope to prove this loud complaint a lie."
Disguis'd in human shape, I travel'd round
The world, and more than what I heard I found.
O'er Maenalus I took my steepy way,
By caverns infamous for beasts of prey;
Then cross'd Cyllene, and the piny shade,
More infamous by curst Lycaon made.
Dark night had cover'd heav'n and earth, before
I enter'd his unhospitable door.
Just at my entrance, I displayed the sign
That somewhat was approaching of divine.
The prostrate people pray: the tyrant grins;
And, adding profanation to his sins,
" I 'll try," said he, " and if a god appear,
To prove his deity shall cost him dear."
'T was late; the graceless wretch my death prepares,
When I should soundly sleep, oppress'd with cares:
This dire experiment he chose, to prove
If I were mortal, or undoubted Jove;
But first he had resolv'd to taste my pow'r.
Not long before, but in a luckless hour,
Some legates, sent from the Molossian state,
Were on a peaceful errant come to treat.
Of these he murders one; he boils the flesh,
And lays the mangled morsels in a dish:
Some part he roasts; then serves it up, so dress'd,
And bids me welcome to this human feast.
Mov'd with disdain, the table I o'erturn'd,
And with avenging flames the palace burn'd.
The tyrant, in a fright, for shelter gains
The neighb'ring fields, and scours along the plains.
Howling he fled, and fain he would have spoke,
But human voice his brutal tongue forsook.
About his lips the gather'd foam he churns,
And, breathing slaughters, still with rage he burns,
But on the bleating flock his fury turns,
His mantle, now his hide, with rugged hairs
Cleaves to his back; a famish'd face he bears;
His arms descend, his shoulders sink away,
To multiply his legs for chase of prey.
He grows a wolf, his hoariness remains,
And the same rage in other members reigns.
His eyes still sparkle in a narr'wer space,
His jaws retain the grin, and violence of face.
" This was a single ruin, but not one
Deserves so just a punishment alone.
Mankind 's a monster, and th' ungodly times,
Confed'rate into guilt, are sworn to crimes.
All are alike involv'd in ill, and all
Must by the same relentless fury fall. "
Thus ended he; the greater gods assent,
By clamors urging his severe intent;
The less fill up the cry for punishment.
Yet still with pity they remember man,
And mourn as much as heav'nly spirits can.
They ask, when those were lost of human birth,
What he would do with all this waste of earth;
If his dispeopled world he would resign
To beasts, a mute, and more ignoble line:
Neglected altars must no longer smoke,
If none were left to worship and invoke.
To whom the Father of the Gods replied:
" Lay that unnecessary fear aside:
Mine be the care new people to provide.
I will from wondrous principles ordain
A race unlike the first, and try my skill again. "
Already had he toss'd the flaming brand
And roll'd the thunder in his spacious hand,
Preparing to discharge on seas and land;
But stopp'd, for fear, thus violently driven,
The sparks should catch his axletree of heav'n:
Rememb'ring, in the Fates, a time when fire
Should to the battlements of heav'n aspire,
And all his blazing worlds above should burn,
And all th' inferior globe to cinders turn.
His dire artill'ry thus dismiss'd, he bent
His thoughts to some securer punishment;
Concludes to pour a wat'ry deluge down,
And, what he durst not burn, resolves to drown.
The northern breath, that freezes floods, he binds,
With all the race of cloud-dispelling winds:
The South he loos'd, who night and horror brings;
And fogs are shaken from his flaggy wings.
From his divided beard tw streams he pours;
His head and rheumy eyes distil in showers;
With rain his robe and heavy mantle flow,
And lazy mists are low'ring on his brow.
Still as he swept along, with his clench'd fist
He squeez'd the clouds; th' imprison'd clouds resist:
The skies, from pole to pole, with peals resound;
And show'rs inlarg'd come pouring on the ground.
Then, clad in colors of a various dye,
Junonian Iris breeds a new supply,
To feed the clouds: impetuous rain descends;
The bearded corn beneath the burthen bends;
Defrauded clowns deplore their perish'd grain,
And the long labors of the year are vain.
Nor from his patrimonial heav'n alone
Is Jove content to pour his vengeance down:
Aid from his brother of the seas he craves,
To help him with auxiliary waves.
The wat'ry tyrant calls his brooks and floods;
Who roll from mossy caves, their moist abodes,
And with perpetual urns his palace fill:
To whom, in brief, he thus imparts his will:
" Small exhortation needs: your pow'rs employ,
And this bad world (so Jove requires) destroy.
Let loose the reins to all your wat'ry store;
Bear down the dams, and open every door. "
The floods, by nature enemies to land,
And proudly swelling with their new command,
Remove the living stones that stopp'd their way,
And, gushing from their source, augment the sea.
Then, with his mace, their monarch struck the ground:
With inward trembling earth receiv'd the wound,
And rising streams a ready passage found.
Th' expanded waters gather on the plain,
They float the fields, and overtop the grain;
Then rushing onwards, with a sweepy sway,
Bear flocks, and folds, and lab'ring hinds away.
Nor safe their dwellings were; for, sapp'd by floods,
Their houses fell upon their household gods.
The solid piles, too strongly built to fall,
High o'er their heads behold a wat'ry wall:
Now seas and earth were in confusion lost;
A world of waters, and without a coast.
One climbs a cliff; one in his boat is borne,
And plows above, where late he sow'd his corn.
Others o'er chimney tops and turrets row,
And drop their anchors on the meads below;
Or downward driv'n, they bruise the tender vine,
Or toss'd aloft, are knock'd against a pine;
And where of late the kids had cropp'd the grass,
The monsters of the deep now take their place.
Insulting Nereids on the cities ride,
And wond'ring dolphins o'er the palace glide;
On leaves and masts of mighty oaks they browse,
And their broad fins entangle in the boughs.
The frighted wolf now swims amongst the sheep;
The yellow lion wanders in the deep:
His rapid force no longer helps the boar;
The stag swims faster than he ran before:
The fowls, long beating on their wings in vain,
Despair of land, and drop into the main.
Now hills and vales no more distinction know,
And level'd nature lies oppress'd below.
The most of mortals perish in the flood,
The small remainder dies for want of food.
A mountain of stupendous height there stands
Betwixt th' Athenian and Baeotian lands,
The bound of fruitful fields, while fields they were,
But then a field of waters did appear:
Parnassus is its name; whose forky rise
Mounts thro' the clouds, and mates the lofty skies.
High on the summit of this dubious cliff,
Deucalion, wafting, moor'd his little skiff.
He with his wife were only left behind
Of perish'd man; they two were humankind.
The mountain nymphs and Themis they adore,
And from her oracles relief implore.
The most upright of mortal men was he;
The most sincere and holy woman, she.
When Jupiter, surveying earth from high,
Beheld it in a lake of water lie,
That, where so many millions lately liv'd,
But two, the best of either sex, surviv'd,
He loos'd the northern wind; fierce Boreas flies
To puff away the clouds, and purge the skies:
Serenely, while he blows, the vapors, driven,
Discover heav'n to earth, and earth to heav'n.
The billows fall, while Neptune lays his mace
On the rough sea, and smooths its furrow'd face.
Already Triton, at his call, appears
Above the waves; a Tyrian robe he wears,
And in his hand a crooked trumpet bears.
The sovereign bids him peaceful sounds inspire,
And give the waves the signal to retire.
His writhen shell he takes, whose narrow vent
Grows by degrees into a large extent;
Then gives it breath: the blast, with doubling sound,
Runs the wide circuit of the world around.
The sun first heard it, in his early east,
And met the rattling echoes in the west.
The waters, list'ning to the trumpet's roar,
Obey the summons, and forsake the shore.
A thin circumference of land appears;
And Earth, but not at once, her visage rears,
And peeps upon the seas from upper grounds:
The streams, but just contain'd within their bounds,
By slow degrees into their channels crawl;
And earth increases as the waters fall.
In longer time the tops of trees appear,
Which mud on their dishonor'd branches bear.
At length the world was all restor'd to view,
But desolate, and of a sickly hue:
Nature beheld herself, and stood aghast;
A dismal desart, and a silent waste.
Which when Deucalion, with a piteous look,
Beheld, he wept, and thus to Pyrrha spoke;
" O wife, O sister, O of all thy kind
The best and only creature left behind,
By kindred, love, and now by dangers join'd;
Of multitudes who breath'd the common air
We two remain; a species in a pair:
The rest the seas have swallow'd; nor have we
Ev'n of this wretched life a certainty.
The clouds are still above; and, while I speak,
A second deluge o'er our heads may break.
Should I be snatch'd from hence, and thou remain,
Without relief, or partner of thy pain,
How couldst thou such a wretched life sustain?
Should I be left, and thou be lost, the sea,
That buried her I lov'd, should bury me.
O could our father his old arts inspire,
And make me heir of his informing fire,
That so I might abolish'd man retrieve,
And perish'd people in new souls might live!
But Heav'n is pleas'd, nor ought we to complain,
That we, th' examples of mankind, remain. "
He said: the careful couple join their tears,
And then invoke the gods, with pious prayers.
Thus in devotion having eas'd their grief,
From sacred oracles they seek relief;
And to Cephisus' brook their way pursue:
The stream was troubled, but the ford they knew.
With living waters, in the fountain bred,
They sprinkle first their garments and their head;
Then took the way which to the temple led.
The roofs were all defil'd with moss and mire,
The desart altars void of solemn fire.
Before the gradual, prostrate they ador'd;
The pavement kiss'd, and thus the saint implor'd:
" O righteous Themis, if the pow'rs above
By pray'rs are bent to pity, and to love;
If human miseries can move their mind;
If yet they can forgive, and yet be kind;
Tell how we may restore, by second birth,
Mankind, and people desolated earth. "
Then thus the gracious goddess, nodding, said:
" Depart, and with your vestments veil your head;
And stooping lowly down, with loosen'd zones,
Throw each behind your backs your mighty mother's bones. "
Amaz'd the pair, and mute with wonder stand,
Till Pyrrha first refus'd the dire command.
" Forbid it Heav'n, " said she, " that I should tear
Those holy relics from the sepulcher. "
They ponder'd the mysterious words again,
For some new sense; and long they sought in vain:
At length Deucalion clear'd his cloudy brow,
And said: " The dark enigma will allow
A meaning, which, if well I understand,
From sacrilege will free the god's command:
This earth our mighty mother is, the stones
In her capacious body are her bones:
These we must cast behind. " With hope and fear
The woman did the new solution hear:
The man diffides in his own augury,
And doubts the gods; yet both resolve to try.
Descending from the mount, they first unbind
Their vests; and, veil'd, they cast the stones behind:
The stones (a miracle to mortal view,
But long tradition makes it pass for true)
Did first the rigor of their kind expel,
And suppled into softness as they fell;
Then swell'd, and, swelling, by degrees grew warm;
And took the rudiments of human form:
Imperfect shapes — in marble such are seen,
When the rude chisel does the man begin;
While yet the roughness of the stone remains,
Without the rising muscles and the veins.
The sappy parts, and next resembling juice,
Were turn'd to moisture, for the body's use,
Supplying humors, blood, and nourishment:
The rest, too solid to receive a bent,
Converts to bones; and what was once a vein,
Its former name and nature did retain.
By help of pow'r divine, in little space,
What the man threw assum'd a manly face;
And what the wife, renew'd the female race.
Hence we derive our nature, born to bear
Laborious life, and harden'd into care.
The rest of animals, from teeming earth
Produc'd, in various forms receiv'd their birth.
The native moisture, in its close retreat,
Digested by the sun's ethereal heat,
As in a kindly womb, began to breed;
Then swell'd and quicken'd by the vital seed.
And some in less, and some in longer space,
Were ripen'd into form, and took a several face.
Thus when the Nile from Pharian fields is fled,
And seeks, with ebbing tides, his ancient bed,
The fat manure with heav'nly fire is warm'd;
And crusted creatures, as in wombs, are form'd:
These, when they turn the glebe, the peasants find;
Some rude; and yet unfinish'd in their kind;
Short of their limbs, a lame imperfect birth;
One half alive, and one of lifeless earth.
For heat and moisture, when in bodies join'd,
The temper that results from either kind
Conception makes; and, fighting till they mix,
Their mingled atoms in each other fix.
Thus Nature's hand the genial bed prepares
With friendly discord, and with fruitful wars.
From hence the surface of the ground, with mud
And slime besmear'd (the faeces of the flood),
Receiv'd the rays of heav'n; and, sucking in
The seeds of heat, new creatures did begin:
Some were of sev'ral sorts produc'd before,
But of new monsters Earth created more.
Unwillingly, but yet she brought to light
Thee, Python, too, the wond'ring world to fright;
And the new nations, with so dire a sight:
So monstrous was his bulk, so large a space
Did his vast body and long train embrace.
Whom Phaebus basking on a bank espied:
Ere now the god his arrows had not tried,
But on the trembling deer, or mountain goat:
At this new quarry he prepares to shoot.
Tho' every shaft took place, he spent the store
Of his full quiver; and 't was long before
Th' expiring serpent wallow'd in his gore.
Then, to preserve the fame of such a deed,
For Python slain he Pythian games decreed,
Where noble youths for mastership should strive,
To quoit, to run, and steeds and chariots drive:
The prize was fame; in witness of renown
An oaken garland did the victor crown.
The laurel was not yet for triumphs born,
But every green alike by Phaebus worn
Did, with promiscuous grace, his flowing locks adorn.


The first and fairest of his loves was she
Whom not blind Fortune, but the dire decree
Of angry Cupid forc'd him to desire:
Daphne her name, and Peneus was her sire.
Swell'd with the pride that new success attends,
He sees the stripling, while his bow he bends,
And thus insults him: " Thou lascivious boy,
Are arms like these for children to employ?
Know, such achievements are my proper claim,
Due to my vigor and unerring aim:
Resistless are my shafts, and Python late
In such a feather'd death has found his fate.
Take up thy torch, and lay my weapons by;
With that the feeble souls of lovers fry. "
To whom the son of Venus thus replied:
" Phaebus, thy shafts are sure on all beside;
But mine on Phaebus: mine the fame shall be
Of all thy conquests, when I conquer thee. "
He said, and soaring, swiftly wing'd his flight;
Nor stopp'd but on Parnassus' airy height.
Two diff'rent shafts he from his quiver draws;
One to repel desire, and one to cause.
One shaft is pointed with refulgent gold,
To bribe the love, and make the lover bold:
One blunt, and tipp'd with lead, whose base allay
Provokes disdain, and drives desire away.
The blunted bolt against the nymph he dress'd,
But with the sharp transfix'd Apollo's breast.
Th' enamor'd deity pursues the chase;
The scornful damsel shuns his loath'd embrace;
In hunting beasts of prey her youth employs,
And Phaebe rivals in her rural joys.
With naked neck she goes, and shoulders bare,
And with a fillet binds her flowing hair.
By many suitors sought, she mocks their pains,
And still her vow'd virginity maintains.
Impatient of a yoke, the name of bride
She shuns, and hates the joys she never tried.
On wilds and woods she fixes her desire,
Nor knows what youth and kindly love inspire.
Her father chides her oft: " Thou ow'st, " says he,
" A husband to thyself, a son to me. "
She, like a crime, abhors the nuptial bed;
She glows with blushes, and she hangs her head.
Then, casting round his neck her tender arms,
Soothes him with blandishments, and filial charms.
" Give me, my lord, " she said, " to live, and die,
A spotless maid, without the marriage tie.
'T is but a small request; I beg no more
Than what Diana's father gave before. "
The good old sire was soften'd to consent,
But said her wish would prove her punishment;
For so much youth, and so much beauty join'd,
Oppos'd the state which her desires design'd.
The God f Light, aspiring to her bed,
Hopes what he seeks, with flattering fancies fed;
And is by his own oracles misled.
And as in empty fields the stubble burns,
Or nightly travelers, when day returns,
Their useless torches on dry hedges throw,
That catch the flames, and kindle all the row;
So burns the god, consuming in desire,
And feeding in his breast a fruitless fire:
Her well-turn'd neck he view'd (her neck was bare)
And on her shoulders her dishevel'd hair:
" O were it comb'd, " said he, " with what a grace
Would every waving curl become her face! "
He view'd her eyes, like heavenly lamps that shone;
He view'd her lips, too sweet to view alone,
Her taper fingers, and her panting breast;
He praises all he sees, and for the rest,
Believes the beauties yet unseen are best.
Swift as the wind, the damsel fled away,
Nor did for these alluring speeches stay:
" Stay, nymph, " he cried, " I follow, not a foe:
Thus from the lion trips the trembling doe;
Thus from the wolf the frighten'd lamb removes,
And from pursuing falcons fearful doves;
Thou shunn'st a god, and shunn'st a god that loves.
Ah, lest some thorn should pierce thy tender foot,
Or thou shouldst fall in flying my pursuit!
To sharp uneven ways thy steps decline;
Abate thy speed, and I will bate of mine.
Yet think from whom thou dost so rashly fly;
Nor basely born, nor shepherd's swain am I.
Perhaps thou know'st not my superior state,
And from that ignorance proceeds thy hate.
Me Claros, Delphos, Tenedos obey;
These hands the Patareian scepter sway.
The King of Gods begot me; what shall be,
Or is, or ever was, in fate, I see.
Mine is th' invention of the charming lyre;
Sweet notes, and heav'nly numbers. I inspire.
Sure is my bow, unerring is my dart;
But ah! more deadly his, who pierc'd my heart.
Med'cine is mine: what herbs and simples grow
In fields and forests, all their pow'rs I know,
And am the great physician call'd below.
Alas, that fields and forests can afford
No remedies to heal their love-sick lord!
To cure the pains of love no plant avails,
And his own physic the physician fails. "
She heard not half, so furiously she flies,
And on her ear th' imperfect accent dies.
Fear gave her wings; and as she fled, the wind,
Increasing, spread her flowing hair behind,
And left her legs and thighs expos'd to view;
Which made the god more eager to pursue.
The god was young, and was too hotly bent
To lose his time in empty compliment;
But led by love, and fir'd with such a sight,
Impetuously pursued his near delight.
As when th' impatient greyhound, slipp'd from far,
Bounds o'er the glebe, to course the fearful hare,
She in her speed does all her safety lay,
And he with double speed pursues the prey;
O'erruns her at the sitting turn, and licks
His chaps in vain, and blows upon the flix;
She scapes, and for the neighb'ring covert strives,
And gaining shelter, doubts if yet she lives:
If little things with great we may compare,
Such was the god, and such the flying fair:
She, urg'd by, fear, her feet did swiftly move,
But he more swiftly, who was urg'd by love.
He gathers ground upon her in the chase;
Now breathes upon her hair, with nearer pace,
And just is fast'ning on the wish'd embrace.
The nymph grew pale, and in a mortal fright,
Spent with the labor of so long a flight;
And now despairing, cast a mournful look.
Upon the streams of her paternal brook:
" O help, " she cried, " in this extremest need,
If water gods are deities indeed:
Gape, earth, and this unhappy wretch irtomb;
Or change my form whence all my sorrows come. "
Scarce had she finish'd, when her feet she found
Benumb'd with cold, and fasten'd to the ground:
A filmy rind about her body grows;
Her hair to leaves, her arms extend to boughs:
The nymph is all into a laurel gone,
The smoothness of her skin remains alone.
Yet Phaebus loves her still, and, casting round
Her bole his arms, some little warmth he found.
The tree still panted in th' unfinish'd part,
Not wholly vegetive, and heav'd her heart.
He fix'd his lips upon the trembling rind;
It swerv'd aside, and his embrace declin'd.
To whom the god: " Because thou canst not be
My mistress, I espouse thee for my tree:
Be thou the prize of honor and renown;
The deathless poet, and the poem, crown.
Thou shalt the Roman festivals adorn,
And, after poets, be by victors worn.
Thou shalt returning Caesar's triumph grace,
When pomps shall in a long procession pass;
Wreath'd on the posts before his palace wait,
And be the sacred guardian of the gate;
Secure from thunder, and unharm'd by Jove,
Unfading as th' immortal pow'rs above:
And, as the locks of Phaebus are unshorn,
So shall perpetual green thy boughs adorn. "
The grateful tree was pleas'd with what he said,
And shook the shady honors of her head


An ancient forest in Thessalia grows,
Which Tempe's pleasing valley does inclose:
Thro' this the rapid Peneus takes his course,
From Pindus rolling with impetuous force.
Mists from the river's mighty fall arise,
And deadly damps inclose the cloudy skies;
Perpetual fogs are hanging o'er the wood,
And sounds of waters deaf the neighborhood.
Deep in a rocky cave he makes abode,
A mansion proper for a mourning god.
Here he gives audience, issuing out decrees
To rivers, his dependent deities.
On this occasion hither they resort,
To pay their homage, and to make their court;
All doubtful, whether to congratulate
His daughter's honor, or lament her fate.
Sperchaeus, crown'd with poplar, first appears;
Then old Apidanus came, crown'd with years:
Empeus turbulent, Amphrysos tame;
And Æas last, with lagging waters, came.
Then of his kindred brooks a numerous throng
Condole his loss, and bring their urns along.
Not one was wanting of the wat'ry train
That fill'd his flood, or mingled with the main,
But Inachus, who in his cave, alone,
Wept not another's losses, but his own;
For his dear Io, whether stray'd, or dead,
To him uncertain, doubtful tears he shed.
He sought her thro' the world, but sought in vain;
And, nowhere finding, rather fear'd her slain.
Her, just returning from her father's brook,
Jove had beheld, with a desiring look;
And: " O fair daughter of the flood. " he said,
" Worthy alone of Jove's imperial bed,
Happy, whoever shall those charms possess!
The King of Gods (nor is thy lover less)
Invites thee to yon cooler shades, to shun
The scorching rays of the meridian sun.
Nor shalt thou tempt the dangers of the grove
Alone, without a guide; thy guide is Jove:
No puny pow'r, but he whose high command
Is unconfin'd, who rules the seas and land,
And tempers thunder in his awful hand.
O fly not — " for she fled from his embrace:
O'er Lerna's pastures he pursued the chase,
Along the shades of the Lyrcaean plain.
At length the god, who never asks in vain,
Involv'd with vapors, imitating night,
Both air and earth; and then suppress'd her flight,
And, mingling force with love, enjoy'd the full delight.
Meantime the jealous Juno, from on high,
Survey'd the fruitful fields of Arcady;
And wonder'd that the mist should overrun
The face of daylight, and obscure the sun.
No nat'ral cause she found, from brooks or bogs,
Or marshy lowlands, to produce the fogs:
Then round the skies she sought for Jupiter,
Her faithless husband; but no Jove was there.
Suspecting now the worst: " Or I, " she said,
" Am much mistaken, or am much betray'd. "
With fury she precipitates her flight,
Dispels the shadows of dissembled night,
And to the day restores his native light.
Th' almighty lecher, careful to prevent
The consequence, foreseeing her descent,
Transforms his mistress in a trice; and now
In Io's place appears a lovely cow.
So slick her skin, so faultless was her make,
Ev'n Juno did unwilling pleasure take
To see so fair a rival of her love;
And what she was, and whence, enquir'd of Jove;
Of what fair herd, and from what pedigree.
The god, half-caught, was forc'd upon a lie;
And said she sprung from earth. She took the word,
And begg'd the beauteous heifer of her lord.
What should he do? 'T was equal shame to Jove
Or to relinquish, or betray his love;
Yet to refuse so slight a gift would be
But more t' increase his consort's jealousy:
Thus fear and love by turns his heart assail'd,
And stronger love had sure at length prevail'd;
But some faint hope remain'd, his jealous queen
Had not the mistress thro' the heifer seen.
The cautious goddess, of her gift possess'd,
Yet harbor'd anxious thoughts within her breast;
As she who knew the falsehood of her Jove,
And justly fear'd some new relapse of love.
Which to prevent, and to secure her care,
To trusty Argus she commits the fair.
The head of Argus (as with stars the skies)
Was compass'd round, and wore an hundred eyes.
But two by turns their lids in slumber steep;
The rest on duty still their station keep;
Nor could the total constellation sleep.
Thus, ever present to his eyes and mind,
His charge was still before him, tho' behind.
In fields he suffer'd her to feed by day;
But, when the setting sun to night gave way,
The captive cow he summon'd with a call,
And drove her back, and tied her to the stall.
On leaves of trees and bitter herbs she fed,
Heav'n was her canopy, bare earth her bed;
So hardly lodg'd: and, to digest her food,
She drank from troubled streams, defil'd with mud.
Her woful story fain she would have told,
With hands upheld, but had no hands to hold.
Her head to her ungentle keeper bow'd,
She strove to speak; she spoke not, but she low'd:
Affrighted with the noise, she look'd around,
And seem'd t' inquire the author of the sound.
Once on the banks where often she had play'd,
(Her fater's banks) she came, and there survey'd
Her alter'd visage, and her branching head;
And, starting, from herself she would have fled.
Her fellow-nymphs, familiar to her eyes,
Beheld, but knew her not in this disguise.
Ev'n Inachus himself was ignorant,
And in his daughter did his daughter want.
She follow'd where her fellows went, as she
Were still a partner of the company:
They stroke her neck; the gentle heifer stands,
And her neck offers to their stroking hands.
Her father gave her grass; the grass she took,
And lick'd his palms, and cast a piteous look,
And in the language of her eyes she spoke.
She would have told her name, and ask'd relief;
But, wanting words, in tears she tells her grief,
Which with her foot she makes him understand;
And prints the name of Io in the sand.
" Ah wretched me! " her mournful father cried;
She, with a sigh, to " wretched me " replied:
About her milk-white neck his arms he threw;
And wept, and then these tender words ensue:
" And art thou she, whom I have sought around
The world, and have at length so sadly found?
So found, is worse than lost: with mutual words
Thou answer'st not, no voice thy tongue affords;
But sighs are deeply drawn from out thy breast,
And speech denied by lowing is express'd.
Unknowing, I prepar'd thy bridal bed,
With empty hopes of happy issue fed;
But now the husband of a herd must be
Thy mate, and bell'wing sons thy progeny.
O, were I mortal, death might bring relief!
But now my godhead but extends my grief;
Prolongs my woes, of which no end I see,
And makes me curse my immortality! "
More had he said, but, fearful of her stay,
The starry guardian drove his charge away
To some fresh pasture; on a hilly height
He sate himself, and kept her still in sight.


Now Jove no longer could her suff'rings bear;
But call'd in haste his airy messenger,
The son of Maia, with severe decree
To kill the keeper, and to set her free.
With all his harness soon the god was sped;
His flying hat was fasten'd on his head;
Wings on his heels were hung, and in his hand
He holds the virtue of the snaky wand.
The liquid air his moving pinions wound,
And, in the moment, shoot him on the ground.
Before he came in sight, the crafty god
His wings dismiss'd, but still retain'd his rod:
That sleep-procuring wand wise Hermes took,
But made it seem to sight a shepherd's hook.
With this he did a herd of goats control;
Which by the way he met, and slyly stole.
Clad like a country swain, he pip'd, and sung;
And, playing, drove his jolly troop along.
With pleasure Argus the musician heeds,
But wonders much at those new vocal reeds;
And: " Whosoe'er thou art, my friend, " said he,
" Up hither drive thy goats, and play by me:
This hill has browse for them, and shade for thee. "
The god, who was with ease induc'd to climb,
Began discourse to pass away the time;
And still, betwixt, his tuneful pipe he plies;
And watch'd his hour to close the keeper's eyes.
With much ado, he partly kept awake,
Not suff'ring all his eyes repose to take;
And ask'd the stranger, who did reeds invent,
And whence began so rare an instrument.


Then Hermes thus: " A nymph of late there was,
Whose heav'nly form her fellows did surpass:
The pride and joy of fair Arcadia's plains;
Belov'd by deities, ador'd by swains:
Syrinx her name; by Sylvans oft pursued,
As oft she did the lustful gods delude;
The rural and the woodland pow'rs disdain'd;
With Cynthia hunted, and her rites maintain'd.
Like Phaebe clad, even Phaebe's self she seems,
So tall, so straight, such well-proportion'd limbs:
The nicest eye did no distinction know,
But that the goddess bore a golden bow:
Distinguish'd thus, the sight she cheated too.
Descending from Lycaeus, Pan admires
The matchless nymph, and burns with new desires.
A crown of pine upon his head he wore,
And thus began her pity to implore.
But ere he thus began, she took her flight
So swift, she was already out of sight;
Nor stay'd to hear the courtship of the god,
But bent her course to Ladon's gentle flood:
There by the river stopp'd, and, tir'd before,
Relief from water nymphs her pray'rs implore.
" Now while the lustful god, with speedy pace,
Just thought to strain her in a strict embrace,
He fills his arms with reeds, new rising on the place.
And while he sighs, his ill success to find,
The tender canes were shaken by the wind;
And breath'd a mournful air, unheard before,
That, much surprising Pan, yet pleas'd him more.
Admiring this new music: " Thou," he said,
" Who canst not be the partner of my bed,
At least shalt be the consort of my mind;
And often, often, to my lips be join'd."
He form'd the reeds, proportion'd as they are:
Unequal in their length, and wax'd with care,
They still retain the name of his ungrateful fair. "
While Hermes pip'd, and sung, and told his tale,
The keeper's winking eyes began to fail,
And drowsy slumber on the lids to creep;
Till all the watchman was, at length, asleep.
Then soon the god his voice and song suppress'd,
And with his pow'rful rod confirm'd his rest;
Without delay his crooked faulchion drew,
And at one fatal stroke the keeper slew.
Down from the rock fell the dissever'd head,
Opening its eyes in death, and falling bled;
And mark'd the passage with a crimson trail:
Thus Argus lies in pieces, cold and pale;
And all his hundred eyes, with all their light,
Are clos'd at once in one perpetual night.
These Juno takes, that they no more may fail,
And spreads them in her peacock's gaudy tail.
Impatient to revenge her injur'd bed,
She wreaks her anger on her rival's head;
With furies frights her from her native home,
And drives her gadding round the world to roam:
Nor ceas'd her madness and her flight, before
She touch'd the limits of the Pharian shore.
At length, arriving on the banks of Nile,
Wearied with length of ways, and worn with toil,
She laid her down; and, leaning on her knees,
Invok'd the cause of all her miseries;
And cast her languishing regards above,
For help from heav'n, and her ungrateful Jove.
She sigh'd, she wept, she low'd; 't was all she could,
And with unkindness seem'd to tax the god:
Last, with an humble pray'r, she begg'd repose,
Or death at least, to finish all her woes.
Jove heard her vows, and with a flatt'ring look,
In her behalf to jealous Juno spoke.
He cast his arms about her neck, and said:
" Dame, rest secure; no more thy nuptial bed
This nymph shall violate; by Styx I swear,
And every oath that binds the Thunderer. "
The goddess was appeas'd; and at the word
Was Io to her former shape restor'd.
The rugged hair began to fall away;
The sweetness of her eyes did only stay,
Tho' not so large; her crooked horns decrease;
The wideness of her jaws and nostrils cease:
Her hoofs to hands return, in little space;
The five long taper fingers take their place;
And nothing of the heifer now is seen,
Beside the native whiteness of the skin.
Erected on her feet she walks again,
And two the duty of the four sustain.
She tries her tongue, her silence softly breaks,
And fears her former lowings when she speaks:
A goddess now, thro' all th' Egyptian state,
And serv'd by priests, who in white linen wait.
Her son was Epaphus, at length believ'd
The son of Jove, and as a god receiv'd.
With sacrifice ador'd and public pray'rs,
He common temples with his mother shares.
Equal in years, and rival in renown
With Epaphus, the youthful Phaeton,
Like honor claims, and boasts his sire the Sun.
His haughty looks, and his assuming air,
The son of Isis could no longer bear:
" Thou tak'st thy mother's word too far, " said he,
" And hast usurp'd thy boasted pedigree.
Go, base pretender to a borrow'd name! "
Thus tax'd, he blush'd with anger, and with shame;
But shame repress'd his rage: the daunted youth
Soon seeks his mother, and enquires the truth.
" Mother, " said he, " this infamy was thrown
By Epaphus on you, and me your son.
He spoke in public, told it to my face;
Nor durst I vindicate the dire disgrace:
Ev'n I, the bold, the sensible of wrong,
Restrain'd by shame, was forc'd to hold my tongue.
To hear an open slander is a curse;
But not to find an answer, is a worse.
If I am heav'n-begot, assert your son
By some sure sign; and make my father known,
To right my honor, and redeem your own. "
He said, and saying cast his arms about
Her neck, and begg'd her to resolve the doubt.
'T is hard to judge if Clymene were mov'd
More by his pray'r, whom she so dearly lov'd,
Or more with fury fir'd, to find her name
Traduc'd, and made the sport of common fame.
She stretch'd her arms to heav'n, and fix'd her eyes
On that fair planet that adorns the skies:
" Now by those beams, " said she, " whose holy fires
Consume my breast, and kindle my desires;
By him who sees us both, and cheers our sight,
By him the public minister of light,
I swear that Sun begot thee: if I lie,
Let him his cheerful influence deny;
Let him no more this perjur'd creature see,
And shine on all the world but only me.
If still you doubt your mother's innocence,
His eastern mansion is not far from hence;
With little pains you to his leve go,
And from himself your parentage may know. "
With joy th' ambitious youth his mother heard,
And eager, for the journey soon prepar'd.
He longs the world beneath him to survey;
To guide the chariot, and to give the day:
From Meroe's burning sands he bends his course,
Nor less in India feels his father's force;
His travel urging, till he came in sight,
And saw the palace by the purple light.
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