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Title: Theocritus, Bion and Moschus, Rendered into English Prose
Author: Moschus, Theocritus, Bion, of Phlossa near Smyrna
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1889 Macmillan and Co. edition by David Price, email

                          [Picture: Book cover]

                             THEOCRITUS, BION

                       RENDERED INTO ENGLISH PROSE
                         _AN INTRODUCTORY ESSAY_

                            ANDREW LANG, M.A.

               _Lately Fellow of Merton College_, _Oxford_

                      [Picture: Decorative graphic]


                            MACMILLAN AND CO.
                               AND NEW YORK

                          _All rights reserved_

                                * * * * *


                               ERNEST MYERS

                           ’Εκ Μοισᾶν ξεινήιον


THEOCRITUS AND HIS AGE                        xi
                  Idyl      I                  3
                     ,,     II                11
                     ,,     III               20
                     ,,     IV                23
                     ,,     V                 27
                     ,,     VI                35
                     ,,     VII               38
                     ,,     VIII              46
                     ,,     IX                52
                     ,,     X                 55
                     ,,     XI                59
                     ,,     XII               64
                     ,,     XIII              67
                     ,,     XIV               71
                     ,,     XV                76
                     ,,     XVI               85
                     ,,     XVII              91
                     ,,     XVIII             97
                     ,,     XIX              101
                     ,,     XX               102
                     ,,     XXI              105
                     ,,     XXII             110
                     ,,     XXIII            121
                     ,,     XXIV             125
                     ,,     XXV              132
                     ,,     XXVI             144
                     ,,     XXVII            147
                     ,,     XXVIII           152
                     ,,     XXIX             154
                     ,,     XXX              147
                  Epigrams                   159
                  Idyl      I                171
                     ,,     II               176
                     ,,     III              178
                     ,,     IV               179
                     ,,     V                179
                     ,,     VI               180
                  Fragments                  181
                  Idyl      I                187
                     ,,     II               189
                     ,,     III              197
                     ,,     IV               203
                     ,,     V                208
                     ,,     VI               208
                     ,,     VII              209
                     ,,     VIII             209
                     ,,     IX               210


                             (_From Suidas_)

THEOCRITUS, the Chian.  But there is another Theocritus, the son of
Praxagoras and Philinna (see Epigram XXIII), or as some say of Simichus.
(This is plainly derived from the assumed name Simichidas in Idyl VII.)
He was a Syracusan, or, as others say, a Coan settled in Syracuse.  He
wrote the so-called _Bucolics_ in the Dorian dialect.  Some attribute to
him the following works:—_The Proetidae_, _The Pleasures of Hope_
(Ἐλπίδες), _Hymns_, _The Heroines_, _Dirges_, _Ditties_, _Elegies_,
_Iambics_, _Epigrams_.  But it known that there are three Bucolic poets:
this Theocritus, Moschus of Sicily, and Bion of Smyrna, from a village
called Phlossa.


                    (_Usually prefixed to the Idyls_)

THEOCRITUS the Bucolic poet was a Syracusan by extraction, and the son of
Simichidas, as he says himself, _Simichidas_, _pray whither through the
noon dost thou dray thy feet_? (Idyl VII).  Some say that this was an
assumed name, for he seems to have been snub-nosed (σιμός), and that his
father was Praxagoras, and his mother Philinna.  He became the pupil of
Philetas and Asclepiades, of whom he speaks (Idyl VII), and flourished
about the time of Ptolemy Lagus.  He gained much fame for his skill in
bucolic poetry.  According to some his original name was Moschus, and
Theocritus was a name he later assumed.


AT the beginning of the third century before Christ, in the years just
preceding those in which Theocritus wrote, the genius of Greece seemed to
have lost her productive force.  Nor would it have been strange if that
force had really been exhausted.  Greek poetry had hitherto enjoyed a
peculiarly free development, each form of art succeeding each without
break or pause, because each—epic, lyric, dithyramb, the drama—had
responded to some new need of the state and of religion.  Now in the
years that followed the fall of Athens and the conquests of Macedonia,
Greek religion and the Greek state had ceased to be themselves.  Religion
and the state had been the patrons of poetry; on their decline poetry
seemed dead.  There were no heroic kings, like those for whom epic
minstrels had chanted.  The cities could no longer welcome an Olympian
winner with Pindaric hymns.  There was no imperial Athens to fill the
theatres with a crowd of citizens and strangers eager to listen to new
tragic masterpieces.  There was no humorous democracy to laugh at all the
world, and at itself, with Aristophanes.  The very religion of Sophocles
and Aeschylus was debased.  A vulgar usurper had stripped the golden
ornaments from Athene of the Parthenon.  The ancient faith in the
protecting gods of Athens, of Sparta, and of Thebes, had become a lax
readiness to bow down in the temple of any Oriental Rimmon, of Serapis or
Adonis.  Greece had turned her face, with Alexander of Macedon, to the
East; Alexander had fallen, and Greece had become little better than the
western portion of a divided Oriental empire.  The centre of intellectual
life had been removed from Athens to Alexandria (_founded_ 332 B.C.)  The
new Greek cities of Egypt and Asia, and above all Alexandria, seemed no
cities at all to Greeks who retained the pure Hellenic traditions.
Alexandria was thirty times larger than the size assigned by Aristotle to
a well-balanced state.  Austere spectators saw in Alexandria an Eastern
capital and mart, a place of harems and bazaars, a home of tyrants,
slaves, dreamers, and pleasure-seekers.  Thus a Greek of the old school
must have despaired of Greek poetry.  There was nothing (he would have
said) to evoke it; no dawn of liberty could flush this silent Memnon into
song.  The collectors, critics, librarians of Alexandria could only
produce literary imitations of the epic and the hymn, or could at best
write epigrams or inscriptions for the statue of some alien and luxurious
god.  Their critical activity in every field of literature was immense,
their original genius sterile.  In them the intellect of the Hellenes
still faintly glowed, like embers on an altar that shed no light on the
way.  Yet over these embers the god poured once again the sacred oil, and
from the dull mass leaped, like a many-coloured frame, the genius of

To take delight in that genius, so human, so kindly, so musical in
expression, requires, it may be said, no long preparation.  The art of
Theocritus scarcely needs to be illustrated by any description of the
conditions among which it came to perfection.  It is always impossible to
analyse into its component parts the genius of a poet.  But it is not
impossible to detect some of the influences that worked on Theocritus.
We can study his early ‘environment’; the country scenes he knew, and the
songs of the neatherds which he elevated into art.  We can ascertain the
nature of the demand for poetry in the chief cities and in the literary
society of the time.  As a result, we can understand the broad twofold
division of the poems of Theocritus into rural and epic idyls, and with
this we must rest contented.

It is useless to attempt a regular biography of Theocritus.  Facts and
dates are alike wanting, the ancient accounts (p. ix) are clearly based
on his works, but it is by no means impossible to construct a ‘legend’ or
romance of his life, by aid of his own verses, and of hints and fragments
which reach us from the past and the present.  The genius of Theocritus
was so steeped in the colours of human life, he bore such true and full
witness as to the scenes and men he knew, that life (always essentially
the same) becomes in turn a witness to his veracity.  He was born in the
midst of nature that, through all the changes of things, has never lost
its sunny charm.  The existence he loved best to contemplate, that of
southern shepherds, fishermen, rural people, remains what it always has
been in Sicily and in the isles of Greece.  The habits and the passions
of his countryfolk have not altered, the echoes of their old love-songs
still sound among the pines, or by the sea-banks, where Theocritus
‘watched the visionary flocks.’

Theocritus was probably born in an early decade of the third century, or,
according to Couat, about 315 B.C., and was a native of Syracuse, ‘the
greatest of Greek cities, the fairest of all cities.’  So Cicero calls
it, describing the four quarters that were encircled by its walls,—each
quarter as large as a town,—the fountain Arethusa, the stately temples
with their doors of ivory and gold.  On the fortunate dwellers in
Syracuse, Cicero says, the sun shone every day, and there was never a
morning so tempestuous but the sunlight conquered at last, and broke
through the clouds.  That perennial sunlight still floods the poems of
Theocritus with its joyous glow.  His birthplace was the proper home of
an idyllic poet, of one who, with all his enjoyment of the city life of
Greece, had yet been ‘breathed on by the rural Pan,’ and best loved the
sights and sounds and fragrant air of the forests and the coast.  Thanks
to the mountainous regions of Sicily, to Etna, with her volcanic cliffs
and snow-fed streams, thanks also to the hills of the interior, the
populous island never lost the charm of nature.  Sicily was not like the
overcrowded and over-cultivated Attica; among the Sicilian heights and by
the coast were few enclosed estates and narrow farms.  The character of
the people, too, was attuned to poetry.  The Dorian settlers had kept
alive the magic of rivers, of pools where the Nereids dance, and uplands
haunted by Pan.  This popular poetry influenced the literary verse of
Sicily.  The songs of Stesichorus, a minstrel of the early period, and
the little rural ‘mimes’ or interludes of Sophron are lost, and we have
only fragments of Epicharmus.  But it seems certain that these poets,
predecessors of Theocritus, liked to mingle with their own composition
strains of rustic melody, _volks-lieder_, ballads, love-songs, ditties,
and dirges, such as are still chanted by the peasants of Greece and
Italy.  Thus in Syracuse and the other towns of the coast, Theocritus
would have always before his eyes the spectacle of refined and luxurious
manners, and always in his ears the babble of the Dorian women, while he
had only to pass the gates, and wander through the fens of Lysimeleia, by
the brackish mere, or ride into the hills, to find himself in the golden
world of pastoral.  Thinking of his early years, and of the education
that nature gives the poet, we can imagine him, like Callicles in Mr.
Arnold’s poem, singing at the banquet of a merchant or a general—

    ‘With his head full of wine, and his hair crown’d,
    Touching his harp as the whim came on him,
    And praised and spoil’d by master and by guests,
    Almost as much as the new dancing girl.’

We can recover the world that met his eyes and inspired his poems, though
the dates of the composition of these poems are unknown.  We can follow
him, in fancy, as he breaks from the revellers and wanders out into the
night.  Wherever he turned his feet, he could find such scenes as he has
painted in the idyls.  If the moon rode high in heaven, as he passed
through the outlying gardens he might catch a glimpse of some deserted
girl shredding the magical herbs into the burning brazier, and sending
upward to the ‘lady Selene’ the song which was to charm her lover home.
The magical image melted in the burning, the herbs smouldered, the tale
of love was told, and slowly the singer ‘drew the quiet night into her
blood.’  Her lay ended with a passage of softened melancholy—

    ‘Do thou farewell, and turn thy steeds to Ocean, lady, and my pain I
    will endure, even as I have declared.  Farewell, Selene beautiful;
    farewell, ye other stars that follow the wheels of Night.’

A grammarian says that Theocritus borrowed this second idyl, the story of
Simaetha, from a piece by Sophron.  But he had no need to borrow from
anything but the nature before his eyes.  Ideas change so little among
the Greek country people, and the hold of superstition is so strong, that
betrayed girls even now sing to the Moon their prayer for pity and help.
Theocritus himself could have added little passion to this incantation,
still chanted in the moonlit nights of Greece: {0a}

    ‘Bright golden Moon, that now art near to thy setting, go thou and
    salute my lover, he that stole my love, and that kissed me, and said,
    “Never will I leave thee.”  And, lo, he has left me, like a field
    reaped and gleaned, like a church where no man comes to pray, like a
    city desolate.  Therefore I would curse him, and yet again my heart
    fails me for tenderness, my heart is vexed within me, my spirit is
    moved with anguish.  Nay, even so I will lay my curse on him, and let
    God do even as He will, with my pain and with my crying, with my
    flame, and mine imprecations.’

It is thus that the women of the islands, like the girl of Syracuse two
thousand years ago, hope to lure back love or avenged love betrayed, and
thus they ‘win more ease from song than could be bought with gold.’

In whatever direction the path of the Syracusan wanderer lay, he would
find then, as he would find now in Sicily, some scene of the idyllic
life, framed between the distant Etna and the sea.  If he strayed in the
faint blue of the summer dawn, through the fens to the shore, he might
reach the wattled cabin of the two old fishermen in the twenty-first
idyl.  There is nothing in Wordsworth more real, more full of the
incommunicable sense of nature, rounding and softening the toilsome days
of the aged and the poor, than the Theocritean poem of the Fisherman’s
Dream.  It is as true to nature as the statue of the naked fisherman in
the Vatican.  One cannot read these verses but the vision returns to one,
of sandhills by the sea, of a low cabin roofed with grass, where
fishing-rods of reed are leaning against the door, while the
Mediterranean floats up her waves that fill the waste with sound.  This
nature, grey and still, seems in harmony with the wise content of old men
whose days are waning on the limit of life, as they have all been spent
by the desolate margin of the sea.

The twenty-first idyl is one of the rare poems of Theocritus that are not
filled with the sunlight of Sicily, or of Egypt.  The landscapes he
prefers are often seen under the noonday heat, when shade is most
pleasant to men.  His shepherds invite each other to the shelter of
oak-trees or of pines, where the dry fir-needles are strown, or where the
feathered ferns make a luxurious ‘couch more soft than sleep,’ or where
the flowers bloom whose musical names sing in the idyls.  Again,
Theocritus will sketch the bare beginnings of the hillside, as in the
third idyl, just where the olive-gardens cease, and where the short grass
of the heights alternates with rocks, and thorns, and aromatic plants.
None of his pictures seem complete without the presence of water.  It may
be but the wells that the maidenhair fringes, or the babbling runnel of
the fountain of the Nereids.  The shepherds may sing of Crathon, or
Sybaris, or Himeras, waters so sweet that they seem to flow with milk and
honey.  Again, Theocritus may encounter his rustics fluting in rivalry,
like Daphnis and Menalcas in the eighth idyl, ‘on the long ranges of the
hills.’  Their kine and sheep have fed upwards from the lower valleys to
the place where

    ‘The track winds down to the clear stream,
    To cross the sparkling shallows; there
    The cattle love to gather, on their way
    To the high mountain pastures and to stay,
    Till the rough cow-herds drive them past,
    Knee-deep in the cool ford; for ’tis the last
    Of all the woody, high, well-water’d dells
    On Etna, . . .
    . . . glade,
    And stream, and sward, and chestnut-trees,
    End here; Etna beyond, in the broad glare
    Of the hot noon, without a shade,
    Slope behind slope, up to the peak, lies bare;
    The peak, round which the white clouds play.’  {0b}

Theocritus never drives his flock so high, and rarely muses on such
thoughts as come to wanderers beyond the shade of trees and the sound of
water among the scorched rocks and the barren lava.  The day is always
cooled and soothed, in his idyls, with the ‘music of water that falleth
from the high face of the rock,’ or with the murmurs of the sea.  From
the cliffs and their seat among the bright red berries on the arbutus
shrubs, his shepherds flute to each other, as they watch the tunny
fishers cruising far below, while the echo floats upwards of the sailors’
song.  These shepherds have some touch in them of the satyr nature; we
might fancy that their ears are pointed like those of Hawthorne’s
Donatello, in ‘Transformation.’

It should be noticed, as a proof of the truthfulness of Theocritus, that
the songs of his shepherds and goatherds are all such as he might really
have heard on the shores of Sicily.  This is the real answer to the
criticism which calls him affected.  When mock pastorals flourished at
the court of France, when the long dispute as to the merits of the
ancients and moderns was raging, critics vowed that the hinds of
Theocritus were too sentimental and polite in their wooings.  Refinement
and sentiment were to be reserved for princely shepherds dancing, crook
in hand, in the court ballets.  Louis XIV sang of himself—

    ‘_A son labeur il passe tout d’un coup_,
    _Et n’ira pas dormir sur la fougere_,
    _Ny s’oublier aupres d’une Bergere_,
    _Jusques au point d’en oublier le Loup_.’ {0c}

Accustomed to royal goatherds in silk and lace, Fontenelle (a severe
critic of Theocritus) could not believe in the delicacy of a Sicilian who
wore a skin ‘stripped from the roughest of he-goats, with the smell of
the rennet clinging to it still.’  Thus Fontenelle cries, ‘Can any one
suppose that there ever was a shepherd who could say “Would I were the
humming bee, Amaryllis, to flit to thy cave, and dip beneath the
branches, and the ivy leaves that hide thee”?’ and then he quotes other
graceful passages from the love-verses of Theocritean swains.  Certainly
no such fancies were to be expected from the French peasants of
Fontenelle’s age, ‘creatures blackened with the sun, and bowed with
labour and hunger.’  The imaginative grace of Battus is quite as remote
from our own hinds.  But we have the best reason to suppose that the
peasants of Theocritus’s time expressed refined sentiment in language
adorned with colour and music, because the modern love-songs of Greek
shepherds sound like memories of Theocritus.  The lover of Amaryllis
might have sung this among his ditties—

    Χελιδονάκι θα γενω, σ’ τα χείλη σου να καττώ
    Να σε φιλήσω μια και δυό, και πάλε να πετάξω

    ‘To flit towards these lips of thine, I fain would be a swallow,
    To kiss thee once, to kiss thee twice, and then go flying homeward.’

In his despair, when Love ‘clung to him like a leech of the fen,’ he
might have murmured—

    ’Ηθελα να εΐμαι σ’ τα βουνα, μ’ αλάφια να κοιμοΰμαι
    Και το δικον σου το κορμι να μη το συλλογιοΰμαι

    ‘Would that I were on the high hills, and lay where lie the stags,
    and no more was troubled with the thought of thee.’

Here, again, is a love-complaint from modern Epirus, exactly in the tone
of Battus’s song in the tenth idyl—

    ‘White thou art not, thou art not golden haired,
    Thou art brown, and gracious, and meet for love.’

Here is a longer love-ditty—

    ‘I will begin by telling thee first of thy perfections: thy body is
    as fair as an angel’s; no painter could design it.  And if any man be
    sad, he has but to look on thee, and despite himself he takes
    courage, the hapless one, and his heart is joyous.  Upon thy brows
    are shining the constellated Pleiades, thy breast is full of the
    flowers of May, thy breasts are lilies.  Thou hast the eyes of a
    princess, the glance of a queen, and but one fault hast thou, that
    thou deignest not to speak to me.’

Battus might have cried thus, with a modern Greek singer, to the shade of
the dead Amaryllis (Idyl IV), the ‘gracious Amaryllis, unforgotten even
in death’—

    ‘Ah, light of mine eyes, what gift shall I send thee; what gift to
    the other world?  The apple rots, and the quince decayeth, and one by
    one they perish, the petals of the rose!  I send thee my tears bound
    in a napkin, and what though the napkin burns, if my tears reach thee
    at last!’

The difficulty is to stop choosing, where all the verses of the modern
Greek peasants are so rich in Theocritean memories, so ardent, so
delicate, so full of flowers and birds and the music of fountains.
Enough has been said, perhaps, to show what the popular poetry of Sicily
could lend to the genius of Theocritus.

From her shepherds he borrowed much,—their bucolic melody; their
love-complaints; their rural superstitions; their system of answering
couplets, in which each singer refines on the utterance of his rival.
But he did not borrow their ‘pastoral melancholy.’  There is little of
melancholy in Theocritus.  When Battus is chilled by the thought of the
death of Amaryllis, it is but as one is chilled when a thin cloud passes
over the sun, on a bright day of early spring.  And in an epigram the
dead girl is spoken of as the kid that the wolf has seized, while the
hounds bay all too late.  Grief will not bring her back.  The world must
go its way, and we need not darken its sunlight by long regret.  Yet
when, for once, Theocritus adopted the accent of pastoral lament, when he
raised the rural dirge for Daphnis into the realm of art, he composed a
masterpiece, and a model for all later poets, as for the authors of
_Lycidas_, _Thyrsis_, and _Adonais_.

Theocritus did more than borrow a note from the country people.  He
brought the gifts of his own spirit to the contemplation of the world.
He had the clearest vision, and he had the most ardent love of poetry,
‘of song may all my dwelling be full, for neither is sleep more sweet,
nor sudden spring, nor are flowers more delicious to the bees, so dear to
me are the Muses.’ . . .  ‘Never may we be sundered, the Muses of Pieria
and I.’  Again, he had perhaps in greater measure than any other poet the
gift of the undisturbed enjoyment of life.  The undertone of all his
idyls is joy in the sunshine and in existence.  His favourite word, the
word that opens the first idyl, and, as it were, strikes the keynote, is
αδύ, _sweet_.  He finds all things delectable in the rural life:

    ‘Sweet are the voices of the calves, and sweet the heifers’ lowing;
    sweet plays the shepherd on the shepherd’s pipe, and sweet is the

Even in courtly poems, and in the artificial hymns of which we are to
speak in their place, the memory of the joyful country life comes over
him.  He praises Hiero, because Hiero is to restore peace to Syracuse,
and when peace returns, then ‘thousands of sheep fattened in the meadows
will bleat along the plain, and the kine, as they flock in crowds to the
stalls, will make the belated traveller hasten on his way.’  The words
evoke a memory of a narrow country lane in the summer evening, when light
is dying out of the sky, and the fragrance of wild roses by the roadside
is mingled with the perfumed breath of cattle that hurry past on their
homeward road.  There was scarcely a form of the life he saw that did not
seem to him worthy of song, though it might be but the gossip of two rude
hinds, or the drinking bout of the Thessalian horse-jobber, and the false
girl Cynisca and her wild lover Æschines.  But it is the sweet country
that he loves best to behold and to remember.  In his youth Sicily and
Syracuse were disturbed by civil and foreign wars, wars of citizens
against citizens, of Greeks against Carthaginians, and against the fierce
‘men of Mars,’ the banded mercenaries who possessed themselves of
Messana.  But this was not matter for his joyous Muse—

    κείνος δ’ ού πολέμους, ού δάκρυα, Πανα δ’ έμελπε,
    και βούτασ έλίγαινε και άείδων ενόμευε

    ‘Not of wars, not of tears, but of Pan would he chant, and of the
    neatherds he sweetly sang, and singing he shepherded his flocks.’

This was the training that Sicily, her hills, her seas, her lovers, her
poet-shepherds, gave to Theocritus.  Sicily showed him subjects which he
imitated in truthful art.  Unluckily the later pastoral poets of northern
lands have imitated _him_, and so have gone far astray from northern
nature.  The pupil of nature had still to be taught the ‘rules’ of the
critics, to watch the temper and fashion of his time, and to try his
fortune among the courtly poets and grammarians of the capital of
civilisation.  Between the years of early youth in Sicily and the years
of waiting for court patronage at Alexandria, it seems probable that we
must place a period of education in the island of Cos.  The testimonies
of the Grammarians who handed on to us the scanty traditions about
Theocritus, agree in making him the pupil of Philetas of Cos.  This
Philetas was a critic, a commentator on Homer, and an elegiac poet whose
love-songs were greatly admired by the Romans of the Augustan age.  He is
said to have been the tutor of Ptolemy Philadelphus, who was himself
born, as Theocritus records, in the isle of Cos.  It has been conjectured
that Ptolemy and Theocritus were fellow pupils, and that the poet may
have hoped to obtain court favour at Alexandria from this early
connection.  About this point nothing is certainly known, nor can we
exactly understand the sort of education that was given in the school of
the poet Philetas.  The ideas of that artificial age make it not
improbable that Philetas professed to teach the art of poetry.  A French
critic and poet of our own time, M. Baudelaire, was willing to do as much
‘in thirty lessons.’  Possibly Philetas may have imparted technical rules
then in vogue, and the fashionable knack of introducing obscure
mythological allusions.  He was a logician as well as a poet, and is
fabled to have died of vexation because he could not unriddle one of the
metaphysical catches or puzzles of the sophists.  His varied activity
seems to have worn him to a shadow; the contemporary satirists bantered
him about his leanness, and it was alleged that he wore leaden soles to
his sandals lest the wind should blow him, as it blew the calves of
Daphnis (Idyl IX) over a cliff against the rocks, or into the sea. {0e}
Philetas seems a strange master for Theocritus, but, whatever the
qualities of the teacher, Cos, the home of the luxurious old age of
Meleager, was a beautiful school.  The island was one of the most ancient
colonies of the Dorians, and the Syracusan scholar found himself among a
people who spoke his own broad and liquid dialect.  The sides of the
limestone hills were clothed with vines, and with shadowy plane-trees
which still attain extraordinary size and age, while the wine-presses
where Demeter smiled, ‘with sheaves and poppies in her hands,’ yielded a
famous vintage.  The people had a soft industry of their own, they
fashioned the ‘Coan stuff,’ transparent robes for woman’s wear, like the
ύδάτινα βράκη, the thin undulating tissues which Theugenis was to weave
with the ivory distaff, the gift of Theocritus.  As a colony of
Epidaurus, Cos naturally cultivated the worship of Asclepius, the divine
physician, the child of Apollo.  In connection with his worship and with
the clan of the Asclepiadae (that widespread stock to which Aristotle
belonged, and in which the practice of leechcraft was hereditary), Cos
possessed a school of medicine.  In the temple of Asclepius patients hung
up as votive offerings representations of their diseased limbs, and thus
the temple became a museum of anatomical specimens.  Cos was therefore
resorted to by young students from all parts of the East, and Theocritus
cannot but have made many friends of his own age.  Among these he alludes
in various passages to Nicias, afterwards a physician at Miletus, to
Philinus, noted in later life as the head of a medical sect, and to
Aratus.  Theocritus has sung of Aratus’s love-affairs, and St. Paul has
quoted him as a witness to man’s instinctive consent in the doctrine of
the universal fatherhood of God.  These strangely various notices have
done more for the memory of Aratus than his own didactic poem on the
meteorological theories of his age.  He lives, with Philinus and the rest
of the Coan students, because Theocritus introduced them into the picture
of a happy summer’s day.  In the seventh idyl, that one day of Demeter’s
harvest-feast is immortal, and the sun never goes down on its delight.
We see Theocritus

    κουπω ταν μεσάταν όδον ανυμες, ουδε το σαμα
    άμιν το Βρασίλα κατεφαίνετο—

when he ‘had not yet reached the mid-point of the way, nor had the tomb
yet risen on his sight.’  He reveals himself as he was at the height of
morning, at the best moment of the journey, in midsummer of a genius
still unchecked by doubt, or disappointment, or neglect.  Life seems to
accost him with the glance of the goatherd Lycidas, ‘and still he smiled
as he spoke, with laughing eyes, and laughter dwelling on his lips.’  In
Cos, Theocritus found friendship, and met Myrto, ‘the girl he loved as
dearly as goats love the spring.’  Here he could express, without any
afterthought, an enthusiastic adoration for the disinterested joys, the
enchanted moments of human existence.  Before he entered the thronged
streets of Alexandria, and tuned his shepherd’s pipe to catch the ear of
princes, and to sing the epithalamium of a royal and incestuous love, he
rested with his friends in the happy island.  Deep in a cave, among the
ruins of ancient aqueducts, there still bubbles up, from the Coan
limestone, the well-spring of the Nymphs.  ‘There they reclined on beds
of fragrant rushes, lowly strown, and rejoicing they lay in new stript
leaves of the vine.  And high above their heads waved many a poplar, many
an elm-tree, while close at hand the sacred water from the nymph’s own
cave welled forth with murmurs musical’ (Idyl VII).

The old Dorian settlers in Syracuse pleased themselves with the fable
that their fountain, Arethusa, had been a Grecian nymph, who, like
themselves, had crossed the sea to Sicily.  The poetry of Theocritus,
read or sung in sultry Alexandria, must have seemed like a new welling up
of the waters of Arethusa in the sandy soil of Egypt.  We cannot
certainly say when the poet first came from Syracuse, or from Cos, to
Alexandria.  It is evident however from the allusions in the fifteenth
and seventeenth idyls that he was living there after Ptolemy Philadelphus
married his own sister, Arsinoë.  It is not impossible to form some idea
of the condition of Alexandrian society, art, religion, literature and
learning at the court of Ptolemy Philadelphus.  The vast city, founded
some sixty years before, was now completed.  The walls, many miles in
circuit, protected a population of about eight hundred thousand souls.
Into that changing crowd were gathered adventurers from all the known
world.  Merchantmen brought to Ptolemy the wares of India and the
porcelains of China.  Marauders from upper Egypt skulked about the native
quarters, and sallied forth at night to rob the wayfarer.  The king’s
guards were recruited with soldiers from turbulent Greece, from Asia,
from Italy.  Settlers were attracted from Syracuse by the prospect of
high wages and profitable labour.  The Jewish quarters were full of
Israelites who did not disdain Greek learning.  The city in which this
multitude found a home was beautifully constructed.  The Mediterranean
filled the northern haven, the southern walls were washed by the Mareotic
lake.  If the isle of Pharos shone dazzling white, and wearied the eyes,
there was shade beneath the long marble colonnades, and in the groves and
cool halls of the Museum and the Libraries.  The Etesian winds blew fresh
in summer from the north, across the sea, and refreshed the people in
their gardens.  No town seemed greater nor wealthier to the voyager, who
(like the hero of the Greek novel _Clitophon and Leucippe_) entered by
the gate of the Sun, and found that, after nightfall, the torches borne
by men and women hastening to some religious feast, filled the dusk with
a light like that of ‘the sun cut up into fragments.’  At the same time
no town was more in need of the memories of the country, which came to
her in well-watered gardens, in landscape-paintings, and in the verse of

It is impossible to give a clearer idea of the opulence and luxury of
Alexandria and her kings, than will be conveyed by the description of the
coronation-feast of Ptolemy Philadelphus.  This great masquerade and
banquet was prepared by the elder Ptolemy on the occasion of his
admitting his son to share his throne.  The entertainment was described
(in a work now lost) by Callixenus of Rhodes, and the record has been
preserved by Atheneaus (v. 25).  The inner pavilion in which the guests
of Ptolemy reclined, contained one hundred and thirty-five couches.  Over
the roof was placed a scarlet awning, with a fringe of white, and there
were many other awnings, richly embroidered with mythological designs.
The pillars which sustained the roof were shaped in the likeness of
palm-trees, and of _thyrsi_, the weapons of the wine-god Dionysus.  Round
three outer sides ran arcades, draped with purple tissues, and with the
skins of strange beasts.  The fourth side, open to the air, was shady
with the foliage of myrtles and laurels.  Everywhere the ground was
carpeted with flowers, though the season was mid-winter, with roses and
white lilies and blossoms of the gardens.  By the columns round the whole
pavilion were arrayed a hundred effigies in marble, executed by the most
famous sculptors, and on the middle spaces were hung works by the
painters of Sicyon and tapestry woven with stories of the adventures of
the gods.  Above these, again, ran a frieze of gold and silver shields,
while in the higher niches were placed comic, tragic, and satiric
sculptured groups ‘dressed in real clothes,’ says the historian, much
admiring this realism.  It is impossible to number the tripods, and
flagons, and couches of gold, resting on golden figures of sphinxes, the
salvers, the bowls, the jewelled vases.  The masquerade of this winter
festival began with the procession of the Morning-star, Heosphoros, and
then followed a masque of kings and a revel of various gods, while the
company of Hesperus, the Evening-star followed, and ended all.  The revel
of Dionysus was introduced by men disguised as Sileni, wild woodland
beings in raiment of purple and scarlet.  Then came scores of satyrs with
gilded lamps in their hands.  Next appeared beautiful maidens, attired as
Victories, waving golden wings and swinging vessels of burning incense.
The altar of the God of the Vine was borne behind them, crowned and
covered with leaves of gold, and next boys in purple robes scattered
fragrant scents from golden salvers.  Then came a throng of gold-crowned
satyrs, their naked bodies stained with purple and vermilion, and among
them was a tall man who represented the year and carried a horn of
plenty.  He was followed by a beautiful woman in rich attire, carrying in
one hand branches of the palm-tree, in the other a rod of the peach-tree,
starred with its constellated flowers.  Then the masque of the Seasons
swept by, and Philiscus followed, Philiscus the Corcyraean, the priest of
Dionysus, and the favourite tragic poet of the court.  After the prizes
for the athletes had been borne past, Dionysus himself was charioted
along, a gigantic figure clad in purple, and pouring libations out of a
golden goblet.  Around him lay huge drinking-cups, and smoking censers of
gold, and a bower of vine leaves grew up, and shaded the head of the god.
Then hurried by a crowd of priests and priestesses, Maenads, Bacchantes,
Bassarids, women crowned with the vine, or with garlands of snakes, and
girls bearing the mystic _vannus Iacchi_.  And still the procession was
not ended.  A mechanical figure of Nysa passed, in a chariot drawn by
eighty men, among clusters of grapes formed of precious stones, and the
figure arose, and poured milk out of a golden horn.  The Satyrs and
Sileni followed close, and behind them six hundred men dragged on a wain,
a silver vessel that held six hundred measures of wine.  This was only
the first of countless symbolic vessels that were carried past, till last
came a multitude of sixteen hundred boys clad in white tunics, and
garlanded with ivy, who bore and handed to the guests golden and silver
vessels full of sweet wine.  All this was only part of one procession,
and the festival ended when Ptolemy and Berenice and Ptolemy Philadelphus
had been crowned with golden crowns from many subject cities and lands.

This festival was obviously arranged to please the taste of a prince with
late Greek ideas of pictorial display, and with barbaric wealth at his
command.  Theocritus himself enables us in the seventeenth idyl to
estimate the opulence and the dominion of Ptolemy.  He was not master of
fertile Aegypt alone, where the Nile breaks the rich dank soil, and where
myriad cities pour their taxes into his treasuries.  Ptolemy held lands
also in Phoenicia, and Arabia; he claimed Syria and Libya and Aethiopia;
he was lord of the distant Pamphylians, of the Cilicians, the Lycians and
the Carians, and the Cyclades owned his mastery.  Thus the wealth of the
richest part of the world flowed into Alexandria, attracting thither the
priests of strange religions, the possessors of Greek learning, the
painters and sculptors whose work has left its traces on the genius of

Looking at this early Alexandrian age, three points become clear to us.
First, the fashion of the times was Oriental, Oriental in religion and in
society.  Nothing could be less Hellenic, than the popular cult of
Adonis.  The fifteenth idyl of Theocritus shows us Greek women
worshipping in their manner at an Assyrian shrine, the shrine of that
effeminate lover of Aphrodite, whom Heracles, according to the Greek
proverb, thought ‘no great divinity.’  The hymn of Bion, with its
luxurious lament, was probably meant to be chanted at just such a
festival as Theocritus describes, while a crowd of foreigners gossiped
among the flowers and embroideries, the strangely-shaped sacred cakes,
the ebony, the gold, and the ivory.  Not so much Oriental as barbarous
was the impulse which made Ptolemy Philadelphus choose his own sister,
Arsinoë, for wife, as if absolute dominion had already filled the mind of
the Macedonian royal race with the incestuous pride of the Incas, or of
Queen Hatasu, in an elder Egyptian dynasty.  This nascent barbarism has
touched a few of the Alexandrian poems even of Theocritus, and his
panegyric of Ptolemy, of his divine ancestors, and his sister-bride is
not much more Greek in sentiment than are those old native hymns of
Pentaur to ‘the strong Bull,’ or the ‘Risen Sun,’ to Rameses or Thothmes.

Again, the early Alexandrian was what we call a ‘literary’ age.
Literature was not an affair of religion and of the state, but ministered
to the pleasure of individuals, and at their pleasure was composed. {0f}
The temper of the time was crudely critical.  The Museum and the
Libraries, with their hundreds of thousands of volumes, were hot-houses
of grammarians and of learned poets.  Callimachus, the head librarian,
was also the most eminent man of letters.  Unable, himself, to compose a
poem of epic length and copiousness, he discouraged all long poems.  He
shone in epigrams, pedantic hymns, and didactic verses.  He toyed with
anagrams, and won court favour by discovering that the letters of
‘Arsinoë,’ the name of Ptolemy’s wife, made the words ίον Ηρας, the
violet of Hera.  In another masterpiece the genius of Callimachus
followed the stolen tress of Queen Berenice to the skies, where the locks
became a constellation.  A contemporary of Callimachus was Zenodotus, the
critic, who was for improving the Iliad and Odyssey by cutting out all
the epic commonplaces which seemed to him to be needless repetitions.  It
is pretty plain that, in literary society, Homer was thought out of date
and _rococo_.  The favourite topics of poets were now, not the tales of
Troy and Thebes, but the amorous adventures of the gods.  When Apollonius
Rhodius attempted to revive the epic, it is said that the influence of
Callimachus quite discomfited the young poet.  A war of epigrams began,
and while Apollonius called Callimachus a ‘blockhead’ (so finished was
his invective), the veteran compared his rival to the Ibis, the
scavenger-bird.  Other singers satirised each others’ legs, and one, the
Aretino of the time, mocked at king Ptolemy and scourged his failings in
verse.  The literary quarrels (to which Theocritus seems to allude in
Idyl VII, where Lycidas says he ‘hates the birds of the Muses that cackle
in vain rivalry with Homer’) were as stupid as such affairs usually are.
The taste for artificial epic was to return; although many people already
declared that Homer was the world’s poet, and that the world needed no
other.  This epic reaction brought into favour Apollonius Rhodius, author
of the _Argonautica_.  Theocritus has been supposed to aim at him as a
vain rival of Homer, but M. Couat points out that Theocritus was seventy
when Apollonius began to write.  The literary fashions of Alexandria are
only of moment to us so far as they directly affected Theocritus.  They
could not make him obscure, affected, tedious, but his nature probably
inclined him to obey fashion so far as only to write short poems.  His
rural poems are ειδύλλια, ‘little pictures.’  His fragments of epic, or
imitations of the epic hymns are not

    όσα πόντος άείδει

—not full and sonorous as the songs of Homer and the sea.  ‘Ce poète est
le moins naïf qui se puisse rencontrer, et il se dégage de son oeuvre un
parfum de naïveté rustique.’ {0g}  They are, what a German critic has
called them, _mythologischen genre-bilder_, cabinet pictures in the
manner called _genre_, full of pretty detail and domestic feeling.  And
this brings us to the third characteristic of the age,—its art was
elaborately pictorial.  Poetry seems to have sought inspiration from
painting, while painting, as we have said, inclined to _genre_, to
luxurious representations of the amours of the gods or the adventures of
heroes, with backgrounds of pastoral landscape.  Shepherds fluted while
Perseus slew Medusa.

The old order of things in Greece had been precisely the opposite of this
Alexandrian manner.  Homer and the later Homeric legends, with the
tragedians, inspired the sculptors, and even the artisans who decorated
vases.  When a new order of subjects became fashionable, and when every
rich Alexandrian had pictures or frescoes on his walls, it appears that
the painters took the lead, that the initiative in art was theirs.  The
Alexandrian pictures perished long ago, but the relics of Alexandrian
style which remain in the buried cities of Campania, in Pompeii
especially, bear testimony to the taste of the period. {0h}  Out of
nearly two thousand Pompeian pictures, it is calculated that some
fourteen hundred (roughly speaking) are mythological in subject.  The
loves of the gods are repeated in scores of designs, and these designs
closely correspond to the mythological poems of Theocritus and his
younger contemporaries Bion and Moschus.  Take as an example the
adventure of Europa: Lord Tennyson’s lines, in _The Palace of Art_ are
intended to describe _picture_—

    ‘Or sweet Europa’s mantle blew unclasp’d,
       From off her shoulder backward borne:
    From one hand droop’d a crocus: one hand grasp’d
          The mild bull’s golden horn.’

The words of Moschus also seem as if they might have derived their
inspiration from a painting, the touches are so minute, and so

    ‘Meanwhile Europa, riding on the back of the divine bull, with one
    hand clasped the beast’s great horn, and with the other caught up her
    garment’s purple fold, lest it might trail and be drenched in the
    hoar sea’s infinite spray.  And her deep robe was blown out in the
    wind, like the sail of a ship, and lightly ever it wafted the maiden

Now every single ‘motive’ of this description,—Europa with one hand
holding the bull’s horn, with the other lifting her dress, the wind
puffing out her shawl like a sail, is repeated in the Pompeian
wall-pictures, which themselves are believed to be derived from
Alexandrian originals.  There are more curious coincidences than this.
In the sixth idyl of Theocritus, Damoetas makes the Cyclops say that
Galatea ‘will send him many a messenger.’  The mere idea of describing
the monstrous cannibal Polyphemus in love, is artificial and Alexandrian.
But who were the ‘messengers’ of the sea-nymph Galatea?  A Pompeian
picture illustrates the point, by representing a little Love riding up to
the shore on the back of a dolphin, with a letter in his hand for
Polyphemus.  Greek art in Egypt suffered from an Egyptian plague of
Loves.  Loves flutter through the Pompeian pictures as they do through
the poems of Moschus and Bion.  They are carried about in cages, for
sale, like birds.  They are caught in bird-traps.  They don the lion-skin
of Heracles.  They flutter about baskets laden with roses; round rosy
Loves, like the cupids of Boucher.  They are not akin to ‘the grievous
Love,’ the mighty wrestler who threw Daphnis a fall, in the first idyl of
Theocritus.  They are ‘the children that flit overhead, the little Loves,
like the young nightingales upon the budding trees,’ which flit round the
dead Adonis in the fifteenth idyl.  They are the birds that shun the boy
fowler, in Bion’s poem, and perch uncalled (as in a bronze in the Uffizi)
on the grown man.  In one or other of the sixteen Pompeian pictures of
Venus and Adonis, the Loves are breaking their bows and arrows for grief,
as in the hymn of Bion.

Enough has perhaps been said about the social and artistic taste of
Alexandria to account for the remarkable differences in manner between
the rustic idyls of Theocritus and the epic idyls of himself and his
followers Moschus and Bion.  In the rural idyls, Theocritus was himself
and wrote to please himself.  In the epic idyls, as in the Hymn to the
Dioscuri, and in the two poems on Heracles, he was writing to please the
taste of Alexandria.  He had to choose epic topics, but he was warned by
the famous saying of Callimachus (‘a great book is a great evil’) not to
imitate the length of the epic. {0i}  He was also to shun close imitation
of what are so easily imitated, the regular recurring _formulae_, the
commonplace of Homer.  He was to add minute pictorial touches, as in the
description of Alcmena’s waking when the serpents attacked her child,—a
passage rich in domestic pathos and incident which contrast strongly with
Pindar’s bare narrative of the same events.  We have noted the same
pictorial quality in the _Europa_ of Moschus.  Our own age has often been
compared to the Alexandrian epoch, to that era of large cities, wealth,
refinement, criticism, and science; and the pictorial _Idylls of the
King_ very closely resemble the epico-idyllic manner of Alexandria.  We
have tried to examine the society in which Theocritus lived.  But our
impressions about the poet are more distinct.  In him we find the most
genial character; pious as Greece counted piety; tender as became the
poet of love; glad as the singer of a happy southern world should be;
gifted, above all, with humour, and with dramatic power.  ‘His lyre has
all the chords’; his is the last of all the perfect voices of Hellas;
after him no man saw life with eyes so steady and so mirthful.

About the lives of the three idyllic poets literary history says little.
About their deaths she only tells us through the dirge by Moschus, that
Bion was poisoned.  The lovers of Theocritus would willingly hope that he
returned from Alexandria to Sicily, about the time when he wrote the
sixteenth idyl, and that he lived in the enjoyment of the friendship and
the domestic happiness and honour which he sang so well, through the
golden age of Hiero (264 B.C.)  No happier fortune could befall him who
wrote the epigram of the lady of heavenly love, who worshipped with the
noble wife of Nicias under the green roof of Milesian Aphrodite, and who
prophesied of the return of peace and of song to Sicily and Syracuse.



_The shepherd Thyrsis meets a goatherd_, _in a shady place beside a
spring_, _and at his invitation sings the Song of Daphnis_.  _This ideal
hero of Greek pastoral song had won for his bride the fairest of the
Nymphs_.  _Confident in the strength of his passion_, _he boasted that
Love could never subdue him to a new question_.  _Love avenged himself by
making Daphnis desire a strange maiden_, _but to this temptation he never
yielded_, _and so died a constant lover_.  _The song tells how the cattle
and the wild things of the wood bewailed him_, _how Hermes and Priapus
gave him counsel in vain_, _and how with his last breath he retorted the
taunts of the implacable Aphrodite_.

_The scene is in Sicily_.

                                * * * * *

_Thyrsis_.  Sweet, meseems, is the whispering sound of yonder pine tree,
goatherd, that murmureth by the wells of water; and sweet are thy
pipings.  After Pan the second prize shalt thou bear away, and if he take
the horned goat, the she-goat shalt thou win; but if he choose the
she-goat for his meed, the kid falls to thee, and dainty is the flesh of
kids e’er the age when thou milkest them.

_The Goatherd_.  Sweeter, O shepherd, is thy song than the music of
yonder water that is poured from the high face of the rock!  Yea, if the
Muses take the young ewe for their gift, a stall-fed lamb shalt thou
receive for thy meed; but if it please them to take the lamb, thou shalt
lead away the ewe for the second prize.

_Thyrsis_.  Wilt thou, goatherd, in the nymphs’ name, wilt thou sit thee
down here, among the tamarisks, on this sloping knoll, and pipe while in
this place I watch thy flocks?

_Goatherd_.  Nay, shepherd, it may not be; we may not pipe in the
noontide.  ’Tis Pan we dread, who truly at this hour rests weary from the
chase; and bitter of mood is he, the keen wrath sitting ever at his
nostrils.  But, Thyrsis, for that thou surely wert wont to sing _The
Affliction of Daphnis_, and hast most deeply meditated the pastoral muse,
come hither, and beneath yonder elm let us sit down, in face of Priapus
and the fountain fairies, where is that resting-place of the shepherds,
and where the oak trees are.  Ah! if thou wilt but sing as on that day
thou sangest in thy match with Chromis out of Libya, I will let thee
milk, ay, three times, a goat that is the mother of twins, and even when
she has suckled her kids her milk doth fill two pails.  A deep bowl of
ivy-wood, too, I will give thee, rubbed with sweet bees’-wax, a twy-eared
bowl newly wrought, smacking still of the knife of the graver.  Round its
upper edges goes the ivy winding, ivy besprent with golden flowers; and
about it is a tendril twisted that joys in its saffron fruit.  Within is
designed a maiden, as fair a thing as the gods could fashion, arrayed in
a sweeping robe, and a snood on her head.  Beside her two youths with
fair love-locks are contending from either side, with alternate speech,
but her heart thereby is all untouched.  And now on one she glances,
smiling, and anon she lightly flings the other a thought, while by reason
of the long vigils of love their eyes are heavy, but their labour is all
in vain.

Beyond these an ancient fisherman and a rock are fashioned, a rugged
rock, whereon with might and main the old man drags a great net for his
cast, as one that labours stoutly.  Thou wouldst say that he is fishing
with all the might of his limbs, so big the sinews swell all about his
neck, grey-haired though he be, but his strength is as the strength of
youth.  Now divided but a little space from the sea-worn old man is a
vineyard laden well with fire-red clusters, and on the rough wall a
little lad watches the vineyard, sitting there.  Round him two she-foxes
are skulking, and one goes along the vine-rows to devour the ripe grapes,
and the other brings all her cunning to bear against the scrip, and vows
she will never leave the lad, till she strand him bare and breakfastless.
But the boy is plaiting a pretty locust-cage with stalks of asphodel, and
fitting it with reeds, and less care of his scrip has he, and of the
vines, than delight in his plaiting.

All about the cup is spread the soft acanthus, a miracle of varied work,
{6} a thing for thee to marvel on.  For this bowl I paid to a Calydonian
ferryman a goat and a great white cream cheese.  Never has its lip
touched mine, but it still lies maiden for me.  Gladly with this cup
would I gain thee to my desire, if thou, my friend, wilt sing me that
delightful song.  Nay, I grudge it thee not at all.  Begin, my friend,
for be sure thou canst in no wise carry thy song with thee to Hades, that
puts all things out of mind!

                          _The Song of Thyrsis_.

_Begin_, _ye Muses dear_, _begin the pastoral song_!  Thyrsis of Etna am
I, and this is the voice of Thyrsis.  Where, ah! where were ye when
Daphnis was languishing; ye Nymphs, where were ye?  By Peneus’s beautiful
dells, or by dells of Pindus? for surely ye dwelt not by the great stream
of the river Anapus, nor on the watch-tower of Etna, nor by the sacred
water of Acis.

_Begin_, _ye Muses dear_, _begin the pastoral song_!

For him the jackals, for him the wolves did cry; for him did even the
lion out of the forest lament.  Kine and bulls by his feet right many,
and heifers plenty, with the young calves bewailed him.

_Begin_, _ye Muses dear_, _begin the pastoral song_!

Came Hermes first from the hill, and said, ‘Daphnis, who is it that
torments thee; child, whom dost thou love with so great desire?’  The
neatherds came, and the shepherds; the goatherds came: all they asked
what ailed him.  Came also Priapus,—

_Begin_, _ye Muses dear_, _begin the pastoral song_!

And said: ‘Unhappy Daphnis, wherefore dost thou languish, while for thee
the maiden by all the fountains, through all the glades is fleeting, in
search of thee?  Ah! thou art too laggard a lover, and thou nothing
availest!  A neatherd wert thou named, and now thou art like the

_Begin_, _ye Muses dear_, _begin the pastoral song_!

‘For the goatherd, when he marks the young goats at their pastime, looks
on with yearning eyes, and fain would be even as they; and thou, when
thou beholdest the laughter of maidens, dost gaze with yearning eyes, for
that thou dost not join their dances.’

_Begin_, _ye Muses dear_, _begin the pastoral song_!

Yet these the herdsman answered not again, but he bare his bitter love to
the end, yea, to the fated end he bare it.

_Begin_, _ye Muses dear_, _begin the pastoral song_!

Ay, but she too came, the sweetly smiling Cypris, craftily smiling she
came, yet keeping her heavy anger; and she spake, saying: ‘Daphnis,
methinks thou didst boast that thou wouldst throw Love a fall, nay, is it
not thyself that hast been thrown by grievous Love?’

_Begin ye Muses dear_, _begin the pastoral song_!

But to her Daphnis answered again: ‘Implacable Cypris, Cypris terrible,
Cypris of mortals detested, already dost thou deem that my latest sun has
set; nay, Daphnis even in Hades shall prove great sorrow to Love.

_Begin_, _ye Muses dear_, _begin the pastoral song_!

‘Where it is told how the herdsman with Cypris—Get thee to Ida, get thee
to Anchises!  There are oak trees—here only galingale blows, here sweetly
hum the bees about the hives!

_Begin_, _ye Muses dear_, _begin the pastoral song_!

‘Thine Adonis, too, is in his bloom, for he herds the sheep and slays the
hares, and he chases all the wild beasts.  Nay, go and confront Diomedes
again, and say, “The herdsman Daphnis I conquered, do thou join battle
with me.”

_Begin_, _ye Muses dear_, _begin the pastoral song_!

‘Ye wolves, ye jackals, and ye bears in the mountain caves, farewell!
The herdsman Daphnis ye never shall see again, no more in the dells, no
more in the groves, no more in the woodlands.  Farewell Arethusa, ye
rivers, good-night, that pour down Thymbris your beautiful waters.

_Begin_, _ye Muses dear_, _begin the pastoral song_!

‘That Daphnis am I who here do herd the kine, Daphnis who water here the
bulls and calves.

‘O Pan, Pan! whether thou art on the high hills of Lycaeus, or rangest
mighty Maenalus, haste hither to the Sicilian isle!  Leave the tomb of
Helice, leave that high cairn of the son of Lycaon, which seems wondrous
fair, even in the eyes of the blessed. {9}

_Give o’er_, _ye Muses_, _come_, _give o’er the pastoral song_!

‘Come hither, my prince, and take this fair pipe, honey-breathed with
wax-stopped joints; and well it fits thy lip: for verily I, even I, by
Love am now haled to Hades.

_Give o’er_, _ye Muses_, _come_, _give o’er the pastoral song_!

‘Now violets bear, ye brambles, ye thorns bear violets; and let fair
narcissus bloom on the boughs of juniper!  Let all things with all be
confounded,—from pines let men gather pears, for Daphnis is dying!  Let
the stag drag down the hounds, let owls from the hills contend in song
with the nightingales.’

_Give o’er_, _ye Muses_, _come_, _give o’er the pastoral song_!

So Daphnis spake, and ended; but fain would Aphrodite have given him back
to life.  Nay, spun was all the thread that the Fates assigned, and
Daphnis went down the stream.  The whirling wave closed over the man the
Muses loved, the man not hated of the nymphs.

_Give o’er_, _ye Muses_, _come_, _give o’er the pastoral song_!

And thou, give me the bowl, and the she-goat, that I may milk her and
poor forth a libation to the Muses.  Farewell, oh, farewells manifold, ye
Muses, and I, some future day, will sing you yet a sweeter song.

_The Goatherd_.  Filled may thy fair mouth be with honey, Thyrsis, and
filled with the honeycomb; and the sweet dried fig mayst thou eat of
Aegilus, for thou vanquishest the cicala in song!  Lo here is thy cup,
see, my friend, of how pleasant a savour!  Thou wilt think it has been
dipped in the well-spring of the Hours.  Hither, hither, Cissaetha: do
thou milk her, Thyrsis.  And you young she-goats, wanton not so wildly
lest you bring up the he-goat against you.


_Simaetha_, _madly in love with Delphis_, _who has forsaken her_,
_endeavours to subdue him to her by magic_, _and by invoking the Moon_,
_in her character of Hecate_, _and of Selene_.  _She tells the tale of
the growth of her passion_, _and vows vengeance if her magic arts are

_The scene is probably some garden beneath the moonlit shy_, _near the
town_, _and within sound of the sea_.  _The characters are Simaetha_,
_and Thestylis_, _her handmaid_.

                                * * * * *

WHERE are my laurel leaves? come, bring them, Thestylis; and where are
the love-charms?  Wreath the bowl with bright-red wool, that I may knit
the witch-knots against my grievous lover, {11} who for twelve days, oh
cruel, has never come hither, nor knows whether I am alive or dead, nor
has once knocked at my door, unkind that he is!  Hath Love flown off with
his light desires by some other path—Love and Aphrodite?  To-morrow I
will go to the wrestling school of Timagetus, to see my love and to
reproach him with all the wrong he is doing me.  But now I will bewitch
him with my enchantments!  Do thou, Selene, shine clear and fair, for
softly, Goddess, to thee will I sing, and to Hecate of hell.  The very
whelps shiver before her as she fares through black blood and across the
barrows of the dead.

Hail, awful Hecate! to the end be thou of our company, and make this
medicine of mine no weaker than the spells of Circe, or of Medea, or of
Perimede of the golden hair.

_My magic wheel_, _draw home to me the man I love_!

Lo, how the barley grain first smoulders in the fire,—nay, toss on the
barley, Thestylis!  Miserable maid, where are thy wits wandering?  Even
to thee, wretched that I am, have I become a laughing-stock, even to
thee?  Scatter the grain, and cry thus the while, ‘’Tis the bones of
Delphis I am scattering!’

_My magic wheel_, _draw home to me the man I love_!

Delphis troubled me, and I against Delphis am burning this laurel; and
even as it crackles loudly when it has caught the flame, and suddenly is
burned up, and we see not even the dust thereof, lo, even thus may the
flesh of Delphis waste in the burning!

_My magic wheel_, _draw home to me the man I love_!

Even as I melt this wax, with the god to aid, so speedily may he by love
be molten, the Myndian Delphis!  And as whirls this brazen wheel, {13} so
restless, under Aphrodite’s spell, may he turn and turn about my doors.

_My magic wheel_, _draw home to me the man I love_!

Now will I burn the husks, and thou, O Artemis, hast power to move hell’s
adamantine gates, and all else that is as stubborn.  Thestylis, hark,
’tis so; the hounds are baying up and down the town!  The Goddess stands
where the three ways meet!  Hasten, and clash the brazen cymbals.

_My magic wheel_, _draw home to me the man I love_!

Lo, silent is the deep, and silent the winds, but never silent the
torment in my breast.  Nay, I am all on fire for him that made me,
miserable me, no wife but a shameful thing, a girl no more a maiden.

_My magic wheel_, _draw home to me the man I love_!

Three times do I pour libation, and thrice, my Lady Moon, I speak this
spell:—Be it with a friend that he lingers, be it with a leman he lies,
may he as clean forget them as Theseus, of old, in Dia—so legends
tell—did utterly forget the fair-tressed Ariadne.

_My magic wheel_, _draw home to me the man I love_!

Coltsfoot is an Arcadian weed that maddens, on the hills, the young
stallions and fleet-footed mares.  Ah! even as these may I see Delphis;
and to this house of mine, may he speed like a madman, leaving the bright

_My magic wheel_, _draw home to me the man I love_!

This fringe from his cloak Delphis lost; that now I shred and cast into
the cruel flame.  Ah, ah, thou torturing Love, why clingest thou to me
like a leech of the fen, and drainest all the black blood from my body?

_My magic wheel_, _draw home to me the man I love_!

Lo, I will crush an eft, and a venomous draught to-morrow I will bring

But now, Thestylis, take these magic herbs and secretly smear the juice
on the jambs of his gate (whereat, even now, my heart is captive, though
nothing he recks of me), and spit and whisper, ‘’Tis the bones of Delphis
that I smear.’

_My magic wheel_, _draw home to me the man I love_!

And now that I am alone, whence shall I begin to bewail my love?  Whence
shall I take up the tale: who brought on me this sorrow?  The
maiden-bearer of the mystic vessel came our way, Anaxo, daughter of
Eubulus, to the grove of Artemis; and behold, she had many other wild
beasts paraded for that time, in the sacred show, and among them a

_Bethink thee of my love_, _and whence it came_, _my Lady Moon_!

And the Thracian servant of Theucharidas,—my nurse that is but lately
dead, and who then dwelt at our doors,—besought me and implored me to
come and see the show.  And I went with her, wretched woman that I am,
clad about in a fair and sweeping linen stole, over which I had thrown
the holiday dress of Clearista.

_Bethink thee of my love_, _and whence it came_, _my Lady Moon_!

Lo!  I was now come to the mid-point of the highway, near the dwelling of
Lycon, and there I saw Delphis and Eudamippus walking together.  Their
beards were more golden than the golden flower of the ivy; their breasts
(they coming fresh from the glorious wrestler’s toil) were brighter of
sheen than thyself Selene!

_Bethink thee of my love_, _and whence it came_, _my Lady Moon_!

Even as I looked I loved, loved madly, and all my heart was wounded, woe
is me, and my beauty began to wane.  No more heed took I of that show,
and how I came home I know not; but some parching fever utterly overthrew
me, and I lay a-bed ten days and ten nights.

_Bethink thee of my love_, _and whence it came_, _my Lady Moon_!

And oftentimes my skin waxed wan as the colour of boxwood, and all my
hair was falling from my head, and what was left of me was but skin and
bones.  Was there a wizard to whom I did not seek, or a crone to whose
house I did not resort, of them that have art magical?  But this was no
light malady, and the time went fleeting on.

_Bethink thee of my love_, _and whence it came_, _my Lady Moon_!

Thus I told the true story to my maiden, and said, ‘Go, Thestylis, and
find me some remedy for this sore disease.  Ah me, the Myndian possesses
me, body and soul!  Nay, depart, and watch by the wrestling-ground of
Timagetus, for there is his resort, and there he loves to loiter.

_Bethink thee of my love_, _and whence it came_, _my Lady Moon_!

‘And when thou art sure he is alone, nod to him secretly, and say,
“Simaetha bids thee to come to her,” and lead him hither privily.’  So I
spoke; and she went and brought the bright-limbed Delphis to my house.
But I, when I beheld him just crossing the threshold of the door, with
his light step,—

_Bethink thee of my love_, _and whence it came_, _my Lady Moon_!

Grew colder all than snow, and the sweat streamed from my brow like the
dank dews, and I had no strength to speak, nay, nor to utter as much as
children murmur in their slumber, calling to their mother dear: and all
my fair body turned stiff as a puppet of wax.

_Bethink thee of my love_, _and whence it came_, _my Lady Moon_!

Then when he had gazed on me, he that knows not love, he fixed his eyes
on the ground, and sat down on my bed, and spake as he sat him down:
‘Truly, Simaetha, thou didst by no more outrun mine own coming hither,
when thou badst me to thy roof, than of late I outran in the race the
beautiful Philinus:

_Bethink thee of my love_, _and whence it came_, _my Lady Moon_!

‘For I should have come; yea, by sweet Love, I should have come, with
friends of mine, two or three, as soon as night drew on, bearing in my
breast the apples of Dionysus, and on my head silvery poplar leaves, the
holy boughs of Heracles, all twined with bands of purple.

_Bethink thee of my love_, _and whence it came_, _my Lady Moon_!

‘And if you had received me, they would have taken it well, for among all
the youths unwed I have a name for beauty and speed of foot.  With one
kiss of thy lovely mouth I had been content; but an if ye had thrust me
forth, and the door had been fastened with the bar, then truly should
torch and axe have broken in upon you.

_Bethink thee of my love_, _and whence it came_, _my Lady Moon_!

‘And now to Cypris first, methinks, my thanks are due, and after Cypris
it is thou that hast caught me, lady, from the burning, in that thou
badst me come to this thy house, half consumed as I am!  Yea, Love, ’tis
plain, lights oft a fiercer blaze than Hephaestus the God of Lipara.

_Bethink thee of my love_, _and whence it came_, _my Lady Moon_!

‘With his madness dire, he scares both the maiden from her bower and the
bride from the bridal bed, yet warm with the body of her lord!’

So he spake, and I, that was easy to win, took his hand, and drew him
down on the soft bed beside me.  And immediately body from body caught
fire, and our faces glowed as they had not done, and sweetly we murmured.
And now, dear Selene, to tell thee no long tale, the great rites were
accomplished, and we twain came to our desire.  Faultless was I in his
sight, till yesterday, and he, again, in mine.  But there came to me the
mother of Philista, my flute player, and the mother of Melixo, to-day,
when the horses of the Sun were climbing the sky, bearing Dawn of the
rosy arms from the ocean stream.  Many another thing she told me; and
chiefly this, that Delphis is a lover, and whom he loves she vowed she
knew not surely, but this only, that ever he filled up his cup with the
unmixed wine, to drink a toast to his dearest.  And at last he went off
hastily, saying that he would cover with garlands the dwelling of his

This news my visitor told me, and she speaks the truth.  For indeed, at
other seasons, he would come to me thrice, or four times, in the day, and
often would leave with me his Dorian oil flask.  But now it is the
twelfth day since I have even looked on him!  Can it be that he has not
some other delight, and has forgotten me?  Now with magic rites I will
strive to bind him, {19} but if still he vexes me, he shall beat, by the
Fates I vow it, at the gate of Hell.  Such evil medicines I store against
him in a certain coffer, the use whereof, my lady, an Assyrian stranger
taught me.

But do thou farewell, and turn thy steeds to Ocean, Lady, and my pain I
will bear, as even till now I have endured it.  Farewell, Selene bright
and fair, farewell ye other stars, that follow the wheels of quiet Night.


_A goatherd_, _leaving his goats to feed on the hillside_, _in the charge
of Tityrus_, _approaches the cavern of Amaryllis_, _with its veil of
ferns and ivy_, _and attempts to win back the heart of the girl by song_.
_He mingles promises with harmless threats_, _and repeats_, _in exquisite
verses_, _the names of the famous lovers of old days_, _Milanion and
Endymion_.  _Failing to move Amaryllis_, _the goatherd threatens to die
where he has thrown himself down_, _beneath the trees_.

                                * * * * *

COURTING Amaryllis with song I go, while my she-goats feed on the hill,
and Tityrus herds them.  Ah, Tityrus, my dearly beloved, feed thou the
goats, and to the well-side lead them, Tityrus, and ’ware the yellow
Libyan he-goat, lest he butt thee with his horns.

Ah, lovely Amaryllis, why no more, as of old, dust thou glance through
this cavern after me, nor callest me, thy sweetheart, to thy side.  Can
it be that thou hatest me?  Do I seem snub-nosed, now thou hast seen me
near, maiden, and under-hung?  Thou wilt make me strangle myself!

Lo, ten apples I bring thee, plucked from that very place where thou
didst bid me pluck them, and others to-morrow I will bring thee.

Ah, regard my heart’s deep sorrow! ah, would I were that humming bee, and
to thy cave might come dipping beneath the fern that hides thee, and the
ivy leaves!

Now know I Love, and a cruel God is he.  Surely he sucked the lioness’s
dug, and in the wild wood his mother reared him, whose fire is scorching
me, and bites even to the bone.

Ah, lovely as thou art to look upon, ah heart of stone, ah dark-browed
maiden, embrace me, thy true goatherd, that I may kiss thee, and even in
empty kisses there is a sweet delight!

Soon wilt thou make me rend the wreath in pieces small, the wreath of
ivy, dear Amaryllis, that I keep for thee, with rose-buds twined, and
fragrant parsley.  Ah me, what anguish!  Wretched that I am, whither
shall I turn!  Thou dust not hear my prayer!

I will cast off my coat of skins, and into yonder waves I will spring,
where the fisher Olpis watches for the tunny shoals, and even if I die
not, surely thy pleasure will have been done.

I learned the truth of old, when, amid thoughts of thee, I asked, ‘Loves
she, loves she not?’ and the poppy petal clung not, and gave no crackling
sound, but withered on my smooth forearm, even so. {21}

And she too spoke sooth, even Agroeo, she that divineth with a sieve, and
of late was binding sheaves behind the reapers, who said that I had set
all my heart on thee, but that thou didst nothing regard me.

Truly I keep for thee the white goat with the twin kids that Mermnon’s
daughter too, the brown-skinned Erithacis, prays me to give her; and give
her them I will, since thou dost flout me.

My right eyelid throbs, is it a sign that I am to see her?  Here will I
lean me against this pine tree, and sing, and then perchance she will
regard me, for she is not all of adamant.

Lo, Hippomenes when he was eager to marry the famous maiden, took apples
in his hand, and so accomplished his course; and Atalanta saw, and madly
longed, and leaped into the deep waters of desire.  Melampus too, the
soothsayer, brought the herd of oxen from Othrys to Pylos, and thus in
the arms of Bias was laid the lovely mother of wise Alphesiboea.

And was it not thus that Adonis, as he pastured his sheep upon the hills,
led beautiful Cytherea to such heights of frenzy, that not even in his
death doth she unclasp him from her bosom?  Blessed, methinks is the lot
of him that sleeps, and tosses not, nor turns, even Endymion; and,
dearest maiden, blessed I call Iason, whom such things befell, as ye that
be profane shall never come to know.

My head aches, but thou carest not.  I will sing no more, but dead will I
lie where I fall, and here may the wolves devour me.

Sweet as honey in the mouth may my death be to thee.


_Battus and Corydon_, _two rustic fellows_, _meeting in a glade_, _gossip
about their neighbour_, _Aegon_, _who has gone to try his fortune at the
Olympic games_.  _After some random banter_, _the talk turns on the death
of Amaryllis_, _and the grief of Battus is disturbed by the roaming of
his cattle_.  _Corydon removes a thorn that has run into his friend’s
foot_, _and the conversation comes back to matters of rural scandal_.

_The scene is in Southern Italy_.

                                * * * * *

_Battus_.  Tell me, Corydon, whose kine are these,—the cattle of

_Corydon_.  Nay, they are Aegon’s, he gave me them to pasture.

_Battus_.  Dost thou ever find a way to milk them all, on the sly, just
before evening?

_Corydon_.  No chance of that, for the old man puts the calves beneath
their dams, and keeps watch on me.

_Battus_.  But the neatherd himself,—to what land has he passed out of

_Corydon_.  Hast thou not heard?  Milon went and carried him off to the

_Battus_.  And when, pray, did _he_ ever set eyes on the wrestlers’ oil?

_Corydon_.  They say he is a match for Heracles, in strength and

_Battus_.  And I, so mother says, am a better man than Polydeuces.

_Corydon_.  Well, off he has gone, with a shovel, and with twenty sheep
from his flock here. {24}

_Battus_.  Milo, thou’lt see, will soon be coaxing the wolves to rave!

_Corydon_.  But Aegon’s heifers here are lowing pitifully, and miss their

_Battus_.  Yes, wretched beasts that they are, how false a neatherd was

_Corydon_.  Wretched enough in truth, and they have no more care to

_Battus_.  Nothing is left, now, of that heifer, look you, bones, that’s
all.  She does not live on dewdrops, does she, like the grasshopper?

_Corydon_.  No, by Earth, for sometimes I take her to graze by the banks
of Aesarus, fair handfuls of fresh grass I give her too, and otherwhiles
she wantons in the deep shade round Latymnus.

_Battus_.  How lean is the red bull too!  May the sons of Lampriades, the
burghers to wit, get such another for their sacrifice to Hera, for the
township is an ill neighbour.

_Corydon_.  And yet that bull is driven to the mere’s mouth, and to the
meadows of Physcus, and to the Neaethus, where all fair herbs bloom, red
goat-wort, and endive, and fragrant bees-wort.

_Battus_.  Ah, wretched Aegon, thy very kine will go to Hades, while thou
too art in love with a luckless victory, and thy pipe is flecked with
mildew, the pipe that once thou madest for thyself!

_Corydon_.  Not the pipe, by the nymphs, not so, for when he went to
Pisa, he left the same as a gift to me, and I am something of a player.
Well can I strike up the air of _Glaucé_ and well the strain of
_Pyrrhus_, and _the praise of Croton I sing_, and _Zacynthus is a goodly
town_, and _Lacinium that fronts the dawn_!  There Aegon the boxer,
unaided, devoured eighty cakes to his own share, and there he caught the
bull by the hoof, and brought him from the mountain, and gave him to
Amaryllis.  Thereon the women shrieked aloud, and the neatherd,—he burst
out laughing.

_Battus_.  Ah, gracious Amaryllis!  Thee alone even in death will we
ne’er forget.  Dear to me as my goats wert thou, and thou art dead!
Alas, too cruel a spirit hath my lot in his keeping.

_Corydon_.  Dear Battus, thou must needs be comforted.  The morrow
perchance will bring better fortune.  The living may hope, the dead alone
are hopeless.  Zeus now shows bright and clear, and anon he rains.

_Battus_.  Enough of thy comforting!  Drive the calves from the lower
ground, the cursed beasts are grazing on the olive-shoots.  Hie on, white

_Corydon_.  Out, Cymaetha, get thee to the hill!  Dost thou not hear?  By
Pan, I will soon come and be the death of you, if you stay there!  Look,
here she is creeping back again!  Would I had my crook for hare killing:
how I would cudgel thee.

_Battus_.  In the name of Zeus, prithee look here, Corydon!  A thorn has
just run into my foot under the ankle.  How deep they grow, the
arrow-headed thorns.  An ill end befall the heifer; I was pricked when I
was gaping after her.  Prithee dost see it?

_Corydon_.  Yes, yes, and I have caught it in my nails, see, here it is.

_Battus_.  How tiny is the wound, and how tall a man it masters!

_Corydon_.  When thou goest to the hill, go not barefoot, Battus, for on
the hillside flourish thorns and brambles plenty.

_Battus_.  Come, tell me, Corydon, the old man now, does he still run
after that little black-browed darling whom he used to dote on?

_Corydon_.  He is after her still, my lad; but yesterday I came upon
them, by the very byre, and right loving were they.

_Battus_.  Well done, thou ancient lover!  Sure, thou art near akin to
the satyrs, or a rival of the slim-shanked Pans! {26}


_This Idyl begins with a ribald debate between two hirelings_, _who_, _at
last_, _compete with each other in a match of pastoral song_.  _No other
idyl of Theocritus is so frankly true to the rough side of rustic
manners_.  _The scene is in Southern Italy_.

                                * * * * *

_Comatas_.  Goats of mine, keep clear of that notorious shepherd of
Sibyrtas, that Lacon; he stole my goat-skin yesterday.

_Lacon_.  Will ye never leave the well-head?  Off, my lambs, see ye not
Comatas; him that lately stole my shepherd’s pipe?

_Comatas_.  What manner of pipe might that be, for when gat’st _thou_ a
pipe, thou slave of Sibyrtas?  Why does it no more suffice thee to keep a
flute of straw, and whistle with Corydon?

_Lacon_.  What pipe, free sir? why, the pipe that Lycon gave me.  And
what manner of goat-skin hadst thou, that Lacon made off with?  Tell me,
Comatas, for truly even thy master, Eumarides, had never a goat-skin to
sleep in.

_Comatas_.  ’Twas the skin that Crocylus gave me, the dappled one, when
he sacrificed the she-goat to the nymphs; but thou, wretch, even then
wert wasting with envy, and now, at last, thou hast stripped me bare!

_Lacon_.  Nay verily, so help me Pan of the seashore, it was not Lacon
the son of Calaethis that filched the coat of skin.  If I lie, sirrah,
may I leap frenzied down this rock into the Crathis!

_Comatas_.  Nay verily, my friend, so help me these nymphs of the mere
(and ever may they be favourable, as now, and kind to me), it was not
Comatas that pilfered thy pipe.

_Lacon_.  If I believe thee, may I suffer the afflictions of Daphnis!
But see, if thou carest to stake a kid—though indeed ’tis scarce worth my
while—then, go to, I will sing against thee, and cease not, till thou
dust cry ‘enough!’

_Comatas_.  _The sow defied Athene_!  See, there is staked the kid, go
to, do thou too put a fatted lamb against him, for thy stake.

_Lacon_.  Thou fox, and where would be our even betting then?  Who ever
chose hair to shear, in place of wool? and who prefers to milk a filthy
bitch, when he can have a she-goat, nursing her first kid?

_Comatas_.  Why, he that deems himself as sure of getting the better of
his neighbour as thou dost, a wasp that buzzes against the cicala.  But
as it is plain thou thinkst the kid no fair stake, lo, here is this
he-goat.  Begin the match!

_Lacon_.  No such haste, thou art not on fire!  More sweetly wilt thou
sing, if thou wilt sit down beneath the wild olive tree, and the groves
in this place.  Chill water falls there, drop by drop, here grows the
grass, and here a leafy bed is strown, and here the locusts prattle.

_Comatas_.  Nay, no whit am I in haste, but I am sorely vexed, that thou
shouldst dare to look me straight in the face, thou whom I used to teach
while thou wert still a child.  See where gratitude goes!  As well rear
wolf-whelps, breed hounds, that they may devour thee!

_Lacon_.  And what good thing have I to remember that I ever learned or
heard from thee, thou envious thing, thou mere hideous manikin!

                                . . . . .

But come this way, come, and thou shalt sing thy last of country song.

_Comatas_.  That way I will not go!  Here be oak trees, and here the
galingale, and sweetly here hum the bees about the hives.  There are two
wells of chill water, and on the tree the birds are warbling, and the
shadow is beyond compare with that where thou liest, and from on high the
pine tree pelts us with her cones.

_Lacon_.  Nay, but lambs’ wool, truly, and fleeces, shalt thou tread
here, if thou wilt but come,—fleeces more soft than sleep, but the
goat-skins beside thee stink—worse than thyself.  And I will set a great
bowl of white milk for the nymphs, and another will I offer of sweet
olive oil.

_Comatas_.  Nay, but an if thou wilt come, thou shalt tread here the soft
feathered fern, and flowering thyme, and beneath thee shall be strown the
skins of she-goats, four times more soft than the fleeces of thy lambs.
And I will set out eight bowls of milk for Pan, and eight bowls full of
the richest honeycombs.

_Lacon_.  Thence, where thou art, I pray thee, begin the match, and there
sing thy country song, tread thine own ground and keep thine oaks to
thyself.  But who, who shall judge between us?  Would that Lycopas, the
neatherd, might chance to come this way!

_Comatas_.  I want nothing with him, but that man, if thou wilt, that
woodcutter we will call, who is gathering those tufts of heather near
thee.  It is Morson.

_Lacon_.  Let us shout, then!

_Comatas_.  Call thou to him.

_Lacon_.  Ho, friend, come hither and listen for a little while, for we
two have a match to prove which is the better singer of country song.  So
Morson, my friend, neither judge me too kindly, no, nor show him favour.

_Comatas_.  Yes, dear Morson, for the nymphs’ sake neither lean in thy
judgment to Comatas, nor, prithee, favour _him_.  The flock of sheep thou
seest here belongs to Sibyrtas of Thurii, and the goats, friend, that
thou beholdest are the goats of Eumarides of Sybaris.

_Lacon_.  Now, in the name of Zeus did any one ask thee, thou
make-mischief, who owned the flock, I or Sibyrtas?  What a chatterer thou

_Comatas_.  Best of men, I am for speaking the whole truth, and boasting
never, but thou art too fond of cutting speeches.

_Lacon_.  Come, say whatever thou hast to say, and let the stranger get
home to the city alive; oh, Paean, what a babbler thou art, Comatas!


_Comatas_.  The Muses love me better far than the minstrel Daphnis; but a
little while ago I sacrificed two young she-goats to the Muses.

_Lacon_.  Yea, and me too Apollo loves very dearly, and a noble ram I
rear for Apollo, for the feast of the Carnea, look you, is drawing nigh.

_Comatas_.  The she-goats that I milk have all borne twins save two.  The
maiden saw me, and ‘alas,’ she cried, ‘dost thou milk alone?’

_Lacon_.  Ah, ah, but Lacon here hath nigh twenty baskets full of cheese,
and Lacon lies with his darling in the flowers!

_Comatas_.  Clearista, too, pelts the goatherd with apples as he drives
past his she-goats, and a sweet word she murmurs.

_Lacon_.  And wild with love am I too, for my fair young darling, that
meets the shepherd, with the bright hair floating round the shapely neck.

_Comatas_.  Nay, ye may not liken dog-roses to the rose, or wind-flowers
to the roses of the garden; by the garden walls their beds are

_Lacon_.  Nay, nor wild apples to acorns, for acorns are bitter in the
oaken rind, but apples are sweet as honey.

_Comatas_.  Soon will I give my maiden a ring-dove for a gift; I will
take it from the juniper tree, for there it is brooding.

_Lacon_.  But I will give my darling a soft fleece to make a cloak, a
free gift, when I shear the black ewe.

_Comatas_.  Forth from the wild olive, my bleating she-goats, feed here
where the hillside slopes, and the tamarisks grove.

_Lacon_.  Conarus there, and Cynaetha, will you never leave the oak?
Graze here, where Phalarus feeds, where the hillside fronts the dawn.

_Comatas_.  Ay, and I have a vessel of cypress wood, and a mixing bowl,
the work of Praxiteles, and I hoard them for my maiden.

_Lacon_.  I too have a dog that loves the flock, the dog to strangle
wolves; him I am giving to my darling to chase all manner of wild beasts.

_Comatas_.  Ye locusts that overleap our fence, see that ye harm not our
vines, for our vines are young.

_Lacon_.  Ye cicalas, see how I make the goatherd chafe: even so,
methinks, do ye vex the reapers.

_Comatas_.  I hate the foxes, with their bushy brushes, that ever come at
evening, and eat the grapes of Micon.

_Lacon_.  And I hate the lady-birds that devour the figs of Philondas,
and flit down the wind.

_Comatas_.  Dost thou not remember how I cudgelled thee, and thou didst
grin and nimbly writhe, and catch hold of yonder oak?

_Lacon_.  That I have no memory of, but how Eumarides bound thee there,
upon a time, and flogged thee through and through, that I do very well

_Comatas_.  Already, Morson, some one is waxing bitter, dust thou see no
sign of it?  Go, go, and pluck, forthwith, the squills from some old
wife’s grave.

_Lacon_.  And I too, Morson, I make some one chafe, and thou dost
perceive it.  Be off now to the Hales stream, and dig cyclamen.

_Comatas_.  Let Himera flow with milk instead of water, and thou,
Crathis, run red with wine, and all thy reeds bear apples.

_Lacon_.  Would that the fount of Sybaris may flow with honey, and may
the maiden’s pail, at dawning, be dipped, not in water, but in the

_Comatas_.  My goats eat cytisus, and goatswort, and tread the lentisk
shoots, and lie at ease among the arbutus.

_Lacon_.  But my ewes have honey-wort to feed on, and luxuriant creepers
flower around, as fair as roses.

_Comatas_.  I love not Alcippe, for yesterday she did not kiss me, and
take my face between her hands, when I gave her the dove.

_Lacon_.  But deeply I love my darling, for a kind kiss once I got, in
return for the gift of a shepherd’s pipe.

_Comatas_.  Lacon, it never was right that pyes should contend with the
nightingale, nor hoopoes with swans, but thou, unhappy swain, art ever
for contention.

_Morson’s Judgement_.  I bid the shepherd cease.  But to thee, Comatas,
Morson presents the lamb.  And thou, when thou hast sacrificed her to the
nymphs, send Morson, anon, a goodly portion of her flesh.

_Comatas_.  I will, by Pan.  Now leap, and snort, my he-goats, all the
herd of you, and see here how loud I ever will laugh, and exult over
Lacon, the shepherd, for that, at last, I have won the lamb.  See, I will
leap sky high with joy.  Take heart, my horned goats, to-morrow I will
dip you all in the fountain of Sybaris.  Thou white he-goat, I will beat
thee if thou dare to touch one of the herd before I sacrifice the lamb to
the nymphs.  There he is at it again!  Call me Melanthius, {34} not
Comatas, if I do not cudgel thee.


_Daphnis and Damoetas_, _two herdsmen of the golden age_, _meet by a
well-side_, _and sing a match_, _their topic is the Cyclops_,
_Polyphemus_, _and his love for the sea-nymph_, _Galatea_.

_The scene is in Sicily_.

                                * * * * *

DAMOETAS, and Daphnis the herdsman, once on a time, Aratus, led the flock
together into one place.  Golden was the down on the chin of one, the
beard of the other was half-grown, and by a well-head the twain sat them
down, in the summer noon, and thus they sang.  ’Twas Daphnis that began
the singing, for the challenge had come from Daphnis.

                     _Daphnis’s Song of the Cyclops_.

Galatea is pelting thy flock with apples, Polyphemus, she says the
goatherd is a laggard lover!  And thou dost not glance at her, oh hard,
hard that thou art, but still thou sittest at thy sweet piping.  Ah see,
again, she is pelting thy dog, that follows thee to watch thy sheep.  He
barks, as he looks into the brine, and now the beautiful waves that
softly plash reveal him, {36} as he runs upon the shore.  Take heed that
he leap not on the maiden’s limbs as she rises from the salt water, see
that he rend not her lovely body!  Ah, thence again, see, she is
wantoning, light as dry thistle-down in the scorching summer weather.
She flies when thou art wooing her; when thou woo’st not she pursues
thee, she plays out all her game and leaves her king unguarded.  For
truly to Love, Polyphemus, many a time doth foul seem fair!

       _He ended and Damoetas touched a prelude to his sweet song_.

I saw her, by Pan, I saw her when she was pelting my flock.  Nay, she
escaped not me, escaped not my one dear eye,—wherewith I shall see to my
life’s end,—let Telemus the soothsayer, that prophesies hateful things,
hateful things take home, to keep them for his children!  But it is all
to torment her, that I, in my turn, give not back her glances, pretending
that I have another love.  To hear this makes her jealous of me, by
Paean, and she wastes with pain, and springs madly from the sea, gazing
at my caves and at my herds.  And I hiss on my dog to bark at her, for
when I loved Galatea he would whine with joy, and lay his muzzle on her
lap.  Perchance when she marks how I use her she will send me many a
messenger, but on her envoys I will shut my door till she promises that
herself will make a glorious bridal-bed on this island for me.  For in
truth, I am not so hideous as they say!  But lately I was looking into
the sea, when all was calm; beautiful seemed my beard, beautiful my one
eye—as I count beauty—and the sea reflected the gleam of my teeth whiter
than the Parian stone.  Then, all to shun the evil eye, did I spit thrice
in my breast; for this spell was taught me by the crone, Cottytaris, that
piped of yore to the reapers in Hippocoon’s field.

Then Damoetas kissed Daphnis, as he ended his song, and he gave Daphnis a
pipe, and Daphnis gave him a beautiful flute.  Damoetas fluted, and
Daphnis piped, the herdsman,—and anon the calves were dancing in the soft
green grass.  Neither won the victory, but both were invincible.


_The poet making his way through the noonday heat_, _with two friends_,
_to a harvest feast_, _meets the goatherd_, _Lycidas_.  _To humour the
poet Lycidas sings a love song of his own_, _and the other replies with
verses about the passion of Aratus_, _the famous writer of didactic
verse_.  _After a courteous parting from Lycidas_, _the poet and his two
friends repair to the orchard_, _where Demeter is being gratified with
the first-fruits of harvest and vintaging_.

_In this idyl_, _Theocritus_, _speaking of himself by the name of
Simichidas_, _alludes to his teachers in poetry_, _and_, _perhaps_, _to
some of the literary quarrels of the time_.

_The scene is in the isle of Cos_.  _G. Hermann fancied that the scene
was in Lucania_, _and Mr. W. R. Paton thinks he can identify the places
named by the aid of inscriptions_ (Classical Review, ii. 8, 265).  _See
also Rayet_, Mémoire sur l’île de Cos, p. 18, _Paris_, 1876.

                                * * * * *

                           _The Harvest Feast_.

IT fell upon a time when Eucritus and I were walking from the city to the
Hales water, and Amyntas was the third in our company.  The harvest-feast
of Deo was then being held by Phrasidemus and Antigenes, two sons of
Lycopeus (if aught there be of noble and old descent), whose lineage
dates from Clytia, and Chalcon himself—Chalcon, beneath whose foot the
fountain sprang, the well of Buriné.  He set his knee stoutly against the
rock, and straightway by the spring poplars and elm trees showed a
shadowy glade, arched overhead they grew, and pleached with leaves of
green.  We had not yet reached the mid-point of the way, nor was the tomb
of Brasilas yet risen upon our sight, when,—thanks be to the Muses—we met
a certain wayfarer, the best of men, a Cydonian.  Lycidas was his name, a
goatherd was he, nor could any that saw him have taken him for other than
he was, for all about him bespoke the goatherd.  Stripped from the
roughest of he-goats was the tawny skin he wore on his shoulders, the
smell of rennet clinging to it still, and about his breast an old cloak
was buckled with a plaited belt, and in his right hand he carried a
crooked staff of wild olive: and quietly he accosted me, with a smile, a
twinkling eye, and a laugh still on his lips:—

‘Simichidas, whither, pray, through the noon dost thou trail thy feet,
when even the very lizard on the rough stone wall is sleeping, and the
crested larks no longer fare afield?  Art thou hastening to a feast, a
bidden guest, or art thou for treading a townsman’s wine-press?  For such
is thy speed that every stone upon the way spins singing from thy boots!’

‘Dear Lycidas,’ I answered him, ‘they all say that thou among herdsmen,
yea, and reapers art far the chiefest flute-player.  In sooth this
greatly rejoices our hearts, and yet, to my conceit, meseems I can vie
with thee.  But as to this journey, we are going to the harvest-feast,
for, look you some friends of ours are paying a festival to fair-robed
Demeter, out of the first-fruits of their increase, for verily in rich
measure has the goddess filled their threshing-floor with barley grain.
But come, for the way and the day are thine alike and mine, come, let us
vie in pastoral song, perchance each will make the other delight.  For I,
too, am a clear-voiced mouth of the Muses, and they all call me the best
of minstrels, but I am not so credulous; no, by Earth, for to my mind I
cannot as yet conquer in song that great Sicelidas—the Samian—nay, nor
yet Philetas.  ’Tis a match of frog against cicala!’

So I spoke, to win my end, and the goatherd with his sweet laugh, said,
‘I give thee this staff, because thou art a sapling of Zeus, and in thee
is no guile.  For as I hate your builders that try to raise a house as
high as the mountain summit of Oromedon, {40} so I hate all birds of the
Muses that vainly toil with their cackling notes against the Minstrel of
Chios!  But come, Simichidas, without more ado let us begin the pastoral
song.  And I—nay, see friend—if it please thee at all, this ditty that I
lately fashioned on the mountain side!’

                          _The Song of Lycidas_.

Fair voyaging befall Ageanax to Mytilene, both when the _Kids_ are
westering, and the south wind the wet waves chases, and when Orion holds
his feet above the Ocean!  Fair voyaging betide him, if he saves Lycidas
from the fire of Aphrodite, for hot is the love that consumes me.

The halcyons will lull the waves, and lull the deep, and the south wind,
and the east, that stirs the sea-weeds on the farthest shores, {41} the
halcyons that are dearest to the green-haired mermaids, of all the birds
that take their prey from the salt sea.  Let all things smile on Ageanax
to Mytilene sailing, and may he come to a friendly haven.  And I, on that
day, will go crowned with anise, or with a rosy wreath, or a garland of
white violets, and the fine wine of Ptelea I will dip from the bowl as I
lie by the fire, while one shall roast beans for me, in the embers.  And
elbow-deep shall the flowery bed be thickly strewn, with fragrant leaves
and with asphodel, and with curled parsley; and softly will I drink,
toasting Ageanax with lips clinging fast to the cup, and draining it even
to the lees.

Two shepherds shall be my flute-players, one from Acharnae, one from
Lycope, and hard by Tityrus shall sing, how the herdsman Daphnis once
loved a strange maiden, and how on the hill he wandered, and how the oak
trees sang his dirge—the oaks that grow by the banks of the river
Himeras—while he was wasting like any snow under high Haemus, or Athos,
or Rhodope, or Caucasus at the world’s end.

And he shall sing how, once upon a time, the great chest prisoned the
living goatherd, by his lord’s infatuate and evil will, and how the
blunt-faced bees, as they came up from the meadow to the fragrant cedar
chest, fed him with food of tender flowers, because the Muse still
dropped sweet nectar on his lips. {42}

O blessed Comatas, surely these joyful things befell thee, and thou wast
enclosed within the chest, and feeding on the honeycomb through the
springtime didst thou serve out thy bondage.  Ah, would that in my days
thou hadst been numbered with the living, how gladly on the hills would I
have herded thy pretty she-goats, and listened to thy voice, whilst thou,
under oaks or pine trees lying, didst sweetly sing, divine Comatas!

When he had chanted thus much he ceased, and I followed after him again,
with some such words as these:—

‘Dear Lycidas, many another song the Nymphs have taught me also, as I
followed my herds upon the hillside, bright songs that Rumour, perchance,
has brought even to the throne of Zeus.  But of them all this is far the
most excellent, wherewith I will begin to do thee honour: nay listen as
thou art dear to the Muses.’

                        _The Song of Simichidas_.

For Simichidas the Loves have sneezed, for truly the wretch loves Myrto
as dearly as goats love the spring. {43}  But Aratus, far the dearest of
my friends, deep, deep his heart he keeps Desire,—and Aratus’s love is
young!  Aristis knows it, an honourable man, nay of men the best, whom
even Phoebus would permit to stand and sing lyre in hand, by his tripods.
Aristis knows how deeply love is burning Aratus to the bone.  Ah, Pan,
thou lord of the beautiful plain of Homole, bring, I pray thee, the
darling of Aratus unbidden to his arms, whosoe’er it be that he loves.
If this thou dost, dear Pan, then never may the boys of Arcady flog thy
sides and shoulders with stinging herbs, when scanty meats are left them
on thine altar.  But if thou shouldst otherwise decree, then may all thy
skin be frayed and torn with thy nails, yea, and in nettles mayst thou
couch!  In the hills of the Edonians mayst thou dwell in mid-winter time,
by the river Hebrus, close neighbour to the Polar star!  But in summer
mayst thou range with the uttermost Æthiopians beneath the rock of the
Blemyes, whence Nile no more is seen.

And you, leave ye the sweet fountain of Hyetis and Byblis, and ye that
dwell in the steep home of golden Dione, ye Loves as rosy as red apples,
strike me with your arrows, the desired, the beloved; strike, for that
ill-starred one pities not my friend, my host!  And yet assuredly the
pear is over-ripe, and the maidens cry ‘alas, alas, thy fair bloom fades

Come, no more let us mount guard by these gates, Aratus, nor wear our
feet away with knocking there.  Nay, let the crowing of the morning cock
give others over to the bitter cold of dawn.  Let Molon alone, my friend,
bear the torment at that school of passion!  For us, let us secure a
quiet life, and some old crone to spit on us for luck, and so keep all
unlovely things away.

Thus I sang, and sweetly smiling, as before, he gave me the staff, a
pledge of brotherhood in the Muses.  Then he bent his way to the left,
and took the road to Pyxa, while I and Eucritus, with beautiful Amyntas,
turned to the farm of Phrasidemus.  There we reclined on deep beds of
fragrant lentisk, lowly strown, and rejoicing we lay in new stript leaves
of the vine.  And high above our heads waved many a poplar, many an elm
tree, while close at hand the sacred water from the nymphs’ own cave
welled forth with murmurs musical.  On shadowy boughs the burnt cicalas
kept their chattering toil, far off the little owl cried in the thick
thorn brake, the larks and finches were singing, the ring-dove moaned,
the yellow bees were flitting about the springs.  All breathed the scent
of the opulent summer, of the season of fruits; pears at our feet and
apples by our sides were rolling plentiful, the tender branches, with
wild plums laden, were earthward bowed, and the four-year-old pitch seal
was loosened from the mouth of the wine-jars.

Ye nymphs of Castaly that hold the steep of Parnassus, say, was it ever a
bowl like this that old Chiron set before Heracles in the rocky cave of
Pholus?  Was it nectar like this that beguiled the shepherd to dance and
foot it about his folds, the shepherd that dwelt by Anapus, on a time,
the strong Polyphemus who hurled at ships with mountains?  Had these ever
such a draught as ye nymphs bade flow for us by the altar of Demeter of
the threshing-floor?

Ah, once again may I plant the great fan on her corn-heap, while she
stands smiling by, with sheaves and poppies in her hands.


_The scene is among the high mountain pastures of Sicily_:—

   ‘_On the sward_, _at the cliff top_
   _Lie strewn the white flocks_;’

_and far below shines and murmurs the Sicilian sea_.  _Here Daphnis and
Menalcas_, _two herdsmen of the golden age_, _meet_, _while still in
their earliest youth_, _and contend for the prize of pastoral_.  _Their
songs_, _in elegiac measure_, _are variations on the themes of love and
friendship_ (_for Menalcas sings of Milon_, _Daphnis of Nais_), _and of
nature_.  _Daphnis is the winner_; _it is his earliest victory_, _and the
prelude to his great renown among nymphs and shepherds_.  _In this
version the strophes are arranged as in Fritzsche’s text_.  _Some critics
take the poem to be a patchwork by various hands_.

                                * * * * *

AS beautiful Daphnis was following his kine, and Menalcas shepherding his
flock, they met, as men tell, on the long ranges of the hills.  The
beards of both had still the first golden bloom, both were in their
earliest youth, both were pipe-players skilled, both skilled in song.
Then first Menalcas, looking at Daphnis, thus bespoke him.

‘Daphnis, thou herdsman of the lowing kine, art thou minded to sing a
match with me?  Methinks I shall vanquish thee, when I sing in turn, as
readily as I please.’

Then Daphnis answered him again in this wise, ‘Thou shepherd of the
fleecy sheep, Menalcas, the pipe-player, never wilt thou vanquish me in
song, not thou, if thou shouldst sing till some evil thing befall thee!’

_Menalcas_.  Dost thou care then, to try this and see, dost thou care to
risk a stake?

_Daphnis_.  I do care to try this and see, a stake I am ready to risk.

_Menalcas_.  But what shall we stake, what pledge shall we find equal and

_Daphnis_.  I will pledge a calf, and do thou put down a lamb, one that
has grown to his mother’s height.

_Menalcas_.  Nay, never will I stake a lamb, for stern is my father, and
stern my mother, and they number all the sheep at evening.

_Daphnis_.  But what, then, wilt thou lay, and where is to be the
victor’s gain?

_Menalcas_.  The pipe, the fair pipe with nine stops, that I made myself,
fitted with white wax, and smoothed evenly, above as below.  This would I
readily wager, but never will I stake aught that is my father’s.

_Daphnis_.  See then, I too, in truth, have a pipe with nine stops,
fitted with white wax, and smoothed evenly, above as below.  But lately I
put it together, and this finger still aches, where the reed split, and
cut it deeply.

_Menalcas_.  But who is to judge between us, who will listen to our

_Daphnis_.  That goatherd yonder, he will do, if we call him hither, the
man for whom that dog, a black hound with a white patch, is barking among
the kids.

Then the boys called aloud, and the goatherd gave ear, and came, and the
boys began to sing, and the goatherd was willing to be their umpire.  And
first Menalcas sang (for he drew the lot) the sweet-voiced Menalcas, and
Daphnis took up the answering strain of pastoral song—and ’twas thus
Menalcas began:

_Menalcas_.  Ye glades, ye rivers, issue of the Gods, if ever Menalcas
the flute-player sang a song ye loved, to please him, feed his lambs; and
if ever Daphnis come hither with his calves, nay he have no less a boon.

_Daphnis_.  Ye wells and pastures, sweet growth o’ the world, if Daphnis
sings like the nightingales, do ye fatten this herd of his, and if
Menalcas hither lead a flock, may he too have pasture ungrudging to his
full desire!

_Menalcas_.  There doth the ewe bear twins, and there the goats; there
the bees fill the hives, and there oaks grow loftier than common,
wheresoever beautiful Milon’s feet walk wandering; ah, if he depart, then
withered and lean is the shepherd, and lean the pastures

_Daphnis_.  Everywhere is spring, and pastures everywhere, and everywhere
the cows’ udders are swollen with milk, and the younglings are fostered,
wheresoever fair Nais roams; ah, if she depart, then parched are the
kine, and he that feeds them!

_Menalcas_.  O bearded goat, thou mate of the white herd, and O ye
blunt-faced kids, where are the manifold deeps of the forest, thither get
ye to the water, for thereby is Milon; go, thou hornless goat, and say to
him, ‘Milon, Proteus was a herdsman, and that of seals, though he was a

_Daphnis_. . . .

_Menalcas_.  Not mine be the land of Pelops, not mine to own talents of
gold, nay, nor mine to outrun the speed of the winds!  Nay, but beneath
this rock will I sing, with thee in mine arms, and watch our flocks
feeding together, and, before us, the Sicilian sea.

_Daphnis_ . . . .

_Menalcas_ . . . .

_Daphnis_.  Tempest is the dread pest of the trees, drought of the
waters, snares of the birds, and the hunter’s net of the wild beasts, but
ruinous to man is the love of a delicate maiden.  O father, O Zeus, I
have not been the only lover, thou too hast longed for a mortal woman.

Thus the boys sang in verses amoebaean, and thus Menalcas began the
crowning lay:

_Menalcas_.  Wolf, spare the kids, spare the mothers of my herd, and harm
not me, so young as I am to tend so great a flock.  Ah, Lampurus, my dog,
dost thou then sleep so soundly? a dog should not sleep so sound, that
helps a boyish shepherd.  Ewes of mine, spare ye not to take your fill of
the tender herb, ye shall not weary, ’ere all this grass grows again.
Hist, feed on, feed on, fill, all of you, your udders, that there may be
milk for the lambs, and somewhat for me to store away in the

Then Daphnis followed again, and sweetly preluded to his singing:

_Daphnis_.  Me, even me, from the cave, the girl with meeting eyebrows
spied yesterday as I was driving past my calves, and she cried, ‘How
fair, how fair he is!’  But I answered her never the word of railing, but
cast down my eyes, and plodded on my way.

Sweet is the voice of the heifer, sweet her breath, {50} sweet to lie
beneath the sky in summer, by running water.

Acorns are the pride of the oak, apples of the apple tree, the calf of
the heifer, and the neatherd glories in his kine.

So sang the lads; and the goatherd thus bespoke them, ‘Sweet is thy
mouth, O Daphnis, and delectable thy song!  Better is it to listen to thy
singing, than to taste the honeycomb.  Take thou the pipe, for thou hast
conquered in the singing match.  Ah, if thou wilt but teach some lay,
even to me, as I tend the goats beside thee, this blunt-horned she-goat
will I give thee, for the price of thy teaching, this she-goat that ever
fills the milking pail above the brim.’

Then was the boy as glad,—and leaped high, and clapped his hands over his
victory,—as a young fawn leaps about his mother.  But the heart of the
other was wasted with grief, and desolate, even as a maiden sorrows that
is newly wed.

From this time Daphnis became the foremost among the shepherds, and while
yet in his earliest youth, he wedded the nymph Nais.


_Daphnis and Menalcas_, _at the bidding of the poet_, _sing the joys of
the neatherds and of the shepherds life_.  _Both receive the thanks of
the poet_, _and rustic prizes_—_a staff and a horn_, _made of a spiral
shell_.  _Doubts have been expressed as to the authenticity of the
prelude and concluding verses_.  _The latter breathe all Theocritus’s
enthusiastic love of song_.

                                * * * * *

SING, Daphnis, a pastoral lay, do thou first begin the song, the song
begin, O Daphnis; but let Menalcas join in the strain, when ye have mated
the heifers and their calves, the barren kine and the bulls.  Let them
all pasture together, let them wander in the coppice, but never leave the
herd.  Chant thou for me, first, and on the other side let Menalcas

_Daphnis_.  Ah, sweetly lows the calf, and sweetly the heifer, sweetly
sounds the neatherd with his pipe, and sweetly also I!  My bed of leaves
is strown by the cool water, and thereon are heaped fair skins from the
white calves that were all browsing upon the arbutus, on a time, when the
south-west wind dashed me them from the height.

And thus I heed no more the scorching summer, than a lover cares to heed
the words of father or of mother.

So Daphnis sang to me, and thus, in turn, did Menalcas sing.

_Menalcas_.  Aetna, mother mine, I too dwell in a beautiful cavern in the
chamber of the rock, and, lo, all the wealth have I that we behold in
dreams; ewes in plenty and she-goats abundant, their fleeces are strown
beneath my head and feet.  In the fire of oak-faggots puddings are
hissing-hot, and dry beech-nuts roast therein, in the wintry weather,
and, truly, for the winter season I care not even so much as a toothless
man does for walnuts, when rich pottage is beside him.

Then I clapped my hands in their honour, and instantly gave each a gift,
to Daphnis a staff that grew in my father’s close, self-shapen, yet so
straight, that perchance even a craftsman could have found no fault in
it.  To the other I gave a goodly spiral shell, the meat that filled it
once I had eaten after stalking the fish on the Icarian rocks (I cut it
into five shares for five of us),—and Menalcas blew a blast on the shell.

Ye pastoral Muses, farewell!  Bring ye into the light the song that I
sang there to these shepherds on that day!  Never let the pimple grow on
my tongue-tip. {53}

Cicala to cicala is dear, and ant to ant, and hawks to hawks, but to me
the Muse and song.  Of song may all my dwelling be full, for sleep is not
more sweet, nor sudden spring, nor flowers are more delicious to the
bees—so dear to me are the Muses. {54}  Whom they look on in happy hour,
Circe hath never harmed with her enchanted potion.


_This is an idyl of the same genre as Idyl IV_.  _The sturdy reaper_,
_Milon_, _as he levels the swathes of corn_, _derides his languid and
love-worn companion_, _Buttus_.  _The latter defends his gipsy love in
verses which have been the keynote of much later poetry_, _and which echo
in the fourth book of Lucretius_, _and in the Misanthrope of Molière_.
_Milon replies with the song of Lityerses_—_a string_, _apparently_, _of
popular rural couplets_, _such as Theocritus may have heard chanted in
the fields_.

                                * * * * *

_Milan_.  Thou toilsome clod; what ails thee now, thou wretched fellow?
Canst thou neither cut thy swathe straight, as thou wert wont to do, nor
keep time with thy neighbour in thy reaping, but thou must fall out, like
an ewe that is foot-pricked with a thorn and straggles from the herd?
What manner of man wilt thou prove after mid-noon, and at evening, thou
that dost not prosper with thy swathe when thou art fresh begun?

_Battus_.  Milon, thou that canst toil till late, thou chip of the
stubborn stone, has it never befallen thee to long for one that was not
with thee?

_Milan_.  Never!  What has a labouring man to do with hankering after
what he has not got?

_Battus_.  Then it never befell thee to lie awake for love?

_Milan_.  Forbid it; ’tis an ill thing to let the dog once taste of

_Battus_.  But I, Milon, am in love for almost eleven days!

_Milan_.  ’Tis easily seen that thou drawest from a wine-cask, while even
vinegar is scarce with me.

_Battus_.  And for Love’s sake, the fields before my doors are untilled
since seed-time.

_Milan_.  But which of the girls afflicts thee so?

_Battus_.  The daughter of Polybotas, she that of late was wont to pipe
to the reapers on Hippocoon’s farm.

_Milan_.  God has found out the guilty!  Thou hast what thou’st long been
seeking, that grasshopper of a girl will lie by thee the night long!

_Battus_.  Thou art beginning thy mocks of me, but Plutus is not the only
blind god; he too is blind, the heedless Love!  Beware of talking big.

_Milan_.  Talk big I do not!  Only see that thou dust level the corn, and
strike up some love-ditty in the wench’s praise.  More pleasantly thus
wilt thou labour, and, indeed, of old thou wert a melodist.

_Battus_.  Ye Muses Pierian, sing ye with me the slender maiden, for
whatsoever ye do but touch, ye goddesses, ye make wholly fair.

They all call thee a _gipsy_, gracious Bombyca, and _lean_, and
_sunburnt_, ’tis only I that call thee _honey-pale_.

Yea, and the violet is swart, and swart the lettered hyacinth, but yet
these flowers are chosen the first in garlands.

The goat runs after cytisus, the wolf pursues the goat, the crane follows
the plough, but I am wild for love of thee.

Would it were mine, all the wealth whereof once Croesus was lord, as men
tell!  Then images of us twain, all in gold, should be dedicated to
Aphrodite, thou with thy flute, and a rose, yea, or an apple, and I in
fair attire, and new shoon of Amyclae on both my feet.

Ah gracious Bombyca, thy feet are fashioned like carven ivory, thy voice
is drowsy sweet, and thy ways, I cannot tell of them! {57}

_Milan_.  Verily our clown was a maker of lovely songs, and we knew it
not!  How well he meted out and shaped his harmony; woe is me for the
beard that I have grown, all in vain!  Come, mark thou too these lines of
godlike Lityerses


_Demeter_, _rich in fruit_, _and rich in grain_, _may this corn be easy
to win_, _and fruitful exceedingly_!

_Bind_, _ye bandsters_, _the sheaves_, _lest the wayfarer __should cry_,
‘_Men of straw were the workers here_, _ay_, _and their hire was

_See that the cut stubble faces the North wind_, _or the West_, _’tis
thus the grain waxes richest_.

_They that thresh corn should shun the noon-day steep_; _at noon the
chaff parts easiest from the straw_.

_As for the reapers_, _let them begin when the crested lark is waking_,
_and cease when he sleeps_, _but take holiday in the heat_.

_Lads_, _the frog has a jolly life_, _he is not cumbered about a butler
to his drink_, _for he has liquor by him unstinted_!

_Boil the lentils better_, _thou miserly steward_; _take heed lest thou
chop thy fingers_, _when thou’rt splitting cumin-seed_.

’Tis thus that men should sing who labour i’ the sun, but thy starveling
love, thou clod, ’twere fit to tell to thy mother when she stirs in bed
at dawning.


_Nicias_, _the physician and poet_, _being in love_, _Theocritus reminds
him that in song lies the only remedy_.  _It was by song_, _he says_,
_that the Cyclops_, _Polyphemus_, _got him some ease_, _when he was in
love with Galatea_, _the sea-nymph_.

_The idyl displays_, _in the most graceful manner_, _the Alexandrian
taste for turning Greek mythology into love stories_.  _No creature could
be more remote from love than the original Polyphemus_, _the cannibal
giant of the Odyssey_.

                                * * * * *

THERE is none other medicine, Nicias, against Love, neither unguent,
methinks, nor salve to sprinkle,—none, save the Muses of Pieria!  Now a
delicate thing is their minstrelsy in man’s life, and a sweet, but hard
to procure.  Methinks thou know’st this well, who art thyself a leech,
and beyond all men art plainly dear to the Muses nine.

’Twas surely thus the Cyclops fleeted his life most easily, he that dwelt
among us,—Polyphemus of old time,—when the beard was yet young on his
cheek and chin; and he loved Galatea.  He loved, not with apples, not
roses, nor locks of hair, but with fatal frenzy, and all things else he
held but trifles by the way.  Many a time from the green pastures would
his ewes stray back, self-shepherded, to the fold.  But he was singing of
Galatea, and pining in his place he sat by the sea-weed of the beach,
from the dawn of day, with the direst hurt beneath his breast of mighty
Cypris’s sending,—the wound of her arrow in his heart!

Yet this remedy he found, and sitting on the crest of the tall cliff, and
looking to the deep, ’twas thus he would sing:—

                          _Song of the Cyclops_.

O milk-white Galatea, why cast off him that loves thee?  More white than
is pressed milk to look upon, more delicate than the lamb art thou, than
the young calf wantoner, more sleek than the unripened grape!  Here dust
thou resort, even so, when sweet sleep possesses me, and home straightway
dost thou depart when sweet sleep lets me go, fleeing me like an ewe that
has seen the grey wolf.

I fell in love with thee, maiden, I, on the day when first thou camest,
with my mother, and didst wish to pluck the hyacinths from the hill, and
I was thy guide on the way.  But to leave loving thee, when once I had
seen thee, neither afterward, nor now at all, have I the strength, even
from that hour.  But to thee all this is as nothing, by Zeus, nay,
nothing at all!

I know, thou gracious maiden, why it is that thou dust shun me.  It is
all for the shaggy brow that spans all my forehead, from this to the
other ear, one long unbroken eyebrow.  And but one eye is on my forehead,
and broad is the nose that overhangs my lip.  Yet I (even such as thou
seest me) feed a thousand cattle, and from these I draw and drink the
best milk in the world.  And cheese I never lack, in summer time or
autumn, nay, nor in the dead of winter, but my baskets are always

Also I am skilled in piping, as none other of the Cyclopes here, and of
thee, my love, my sweet-apple, and of myself too I sing, many a time,
deep in the night.  And for thee I tend eleven fawns, all
crescent-browed, {61} and four young whelps of the bear.

Nay, come thou to me, and thou shalt lack nothing that now thou hast.
Leave the grey sea to roll against the land; more sweetly, in this
cavern, shalt thou fleet the night with me!  Thereby the laurels grow,
and there the slender cypresses, there is the ivy dun, and the sweet
clustered grapes; there is chill water, that for me deep-wooded Ætna
sends down from the white snow, a draught divine!  Ah who, in place of
these, would choose the sea to dwell in, or the waves of the sea?

But if thou dust refuse because my body seems shaggy and rough, well, I
have faggots of oakwood, and beneath the ashes is fire unwearied, and I
would endure to let thee burn my very soul, and this my one eye, the
dearest thing that is mine.

Ah me, that my mother bore me not a finny thing, so would I have gone
down to thee, and kissed thy hand, if thy lips thou would not suffer me
to kiss!  And I would have brought thee either white lilies, or the soft
poppy with its scarlet petals.  Nay, these are summer’s flowers, and
those are flowers of winter, so I could not have brought thee them all at
one time.

Now, verily, maiden, now and here will I learn to swim, if perchance some
stranger come hither, sailing with his ship, that I may see why it is so
dear to thee, to have thy dwelling in the deep.

Come forth, Galatea, and forget as thou comest, even as I that sit here
have forgotten, the homeward way!  Nay, choose with me to go shepherding,
with me to milk the flocks, and to pour the sharp rennet in, and to fix
the cheeses.

There is none that wrongs me but that mother of mine, and her do I blame.
Never, nay, never once has she spoken a kind word for me to thee, and
that though day by day she beholds me wasting.  I will tell her that my
head, and both my feet are throbbing, that she may somewhat suffer, since
I too am suffering.

O Cyclops, Cyclops, whither are thy wits wandering?  Ah that thou wouldst
go, and weave thy wicker-work, and gather broken boughs to carry to thy
lambs: in faith, if thou didst this, far wiser wouldst thou be!

Milk the ewe that thou hast, why pursue the thing that shuns thee?  Thou
wilt find, perchance, another, and a fairer Galatea.  Many be the girls
that bid me play with them through the night, and softly they all laugh,
if perchance I answer them.  On land it is plain that I too seem to be

                                * * * * *

Lo, thus Polyphemus still shepherded his love with song, and lived
lighter than if he had given gold for ease.


_This is rather a lyric than an idyl_, _being an expression of that
singular passion which existed between men in historical Greece_.  _The
next idyl_, _like the Myrmidons of Aeschylus_, _attributes the same
manners to mythical and heroic Greece_.  _It should be unnecessary to say
that the affection between Homeric warriors_, _like Achilles and
Patroclus_, _was only that of companions in arms and was quite unlike the
later sentiment_.

                                * * * * *

HAST thou come, dear youth, with the third night and the dawning; hast
thou come? but men in longing grow old in a day!  As spring than the
winter is sweeter, as the apple than the sloe, as the ewe is deeper of
fleece than the lamb she bore; as a maiden surpasses a thrice-wedded
wife, as the fawn is nimbler than the calf; nay, by as much as sweetest
of all fowls sings the clear-voiced nightingale, so much has thy coming
gladdened me!  To thee have I hastened as the traveller hastens under the
burning sun to the shadow of the ilex tree.

Ah, would that equally the Loves may breathe upon us twain, may we become
a song in the ears of all men unborn.

‘Lo, a pair were these two friends among the folk of former time,’ the
one ‘the Knight’ (so the Amyclaeans call him), the other, again, ‘the
Page,’ so styled in speech of Thessaly.

‘An equal yoke of friendship they bore: ah, surely then there were golden
men of old, when friends gave love for love!’

And would, O father Cronides, and would, ye ageless immortals, that this
might be; and that when two hundred generations have sped, one might
bring these tidings to me by Acheron, the irremeable stream.

‘The loving-kindness that was between thee and thy gracious friend, is
even now in all men’s mouths, and chiefly on the lips of the young.’

Nay, verily, the gods of heaven will be masters of these things, to rule
them as they will, but when I praise thy graciousness no blotch that
punishes the perjurer shall spring upon the tip of my nose!  Nay, if ever
thou hast somewhat pained me, forthwith thou healest the hurt, giving a
double delight, and I depart with my cup full and running over!

Nisaean men of Megara, ye champions of the oars, happily may ye dwell,
for that ye honoured above all men the Athenian stranger, even Diodes,
the true lover.  Always about his tomb the children gather in their
companies, at the coming in of the spring, and contend for the prize of
kissing.  And whoso most sweetly touches lip to lip, laden with garlands
he returneth to his mother.  Happy is he that judges those kisses of the
children; surely he prays most earnestly to bright-faced Ganymedes, that
his lips may be as the Lydian touchstone wherewith the money-changers try
gold lest perchance base metal pass for true.


_As in the eleventh Idyl_, _Nicias is again addressed_, _by way of
introduction to the story of Hylas_.  _This beautiful lad_, _a favourite
companion of Heracles_, _took part in the Quest of the Fleece of Gold_.
_As he went to draw water from a fountain_, _the water-nymphs dragged him
down to their home_, _and Heracles_, _after a long and vain search_, _was
compelled to follow the heroes of the Quest on foot to Phasis_.

                                * * * * *

NOT for us only, Nicias, as we were used to deem, was Love begotten, by
whomsoever of the Gods was the father of the child; not first to us
seemed beauty beautiful, to us that are mortal men and look not on the
morrow.  Nay, but the son of Amphitryon, that heart of bronze, who abode
the wild lion’s onset, loved a lad, beautiful Hylas—Hylas of the braided
locks, and he taught him all things as a father teaches his child, all
whereby himself became a mighty man, and renowned in minstrelsy.  Never
was he apart from Hylas, not when midnoon was high in heaven, not when
Dawn with her white horses speeds upwards to the dwelling of Zeus, not
when the twittering nestlings look towards the perch, while their mother
flaps her wings above the smoke-browned beam; and all this that the lad
might be fashioned to his mind, and might drive a straight furrow, and
come to the true measure of man.

But when Iason, Aeson’s son, was sailing after the fleece of gold (and
with him followed the champions, the first chosen out of all the cities,
they that were of most avail), to rich Iolcos too came the mighty man and
adventurous, the son of the woman of Midea, noble Alcmene.  With him went
down Hylas also, to Argo of the goodly benches, the ship that grazed not
on the clashing rocks Cyanean, but through she sped and ran into deep
Phasis, as an eagle over the mighty gulf of the sea.  And the clashing
rocks stand fixed, even from that hour!

Now at the rising of the Pleiades, when the upland fields begin to
pasture the young lambs, and when spring is already on the wane, then the
flower divine of Heroes bethought them of sea-faring.  On board the
hollow Argo they sat down to the oars, and to the Hellespont they came
when the south wind had been for three days blowing, and made their haven
within Propontis, where the oxen of the Cianes wear bright the
ploughshare, as they widen the furrows.  Then they went forth upon the
shore, and each couple busily got ready supper in the late evening, and
many as they were one bed they strewed lowly on the ground, for they
found a meadow lying, rich in couches of strown grass and leaves.  Thence
they cut them pointed flag-leaves, and deep marsh-galingale.  And Hylas
of the yellow hair, with a vessel of bronze in his hand, went to draw
water against suppertime, for Heracles himself, and the steadfast
Telamon, for these comrades twain supped ever at one table.  Soon was he
ware of a spring, in a hollow land, and the rushes grew thickly round it,
and dark swallow-wort, and green maiden-hair, and blooming parsley, and
deer-grass spreading through the marshy land.  In the midst of the water
the nymphs were arraying their dances, the sleepless nymphs, dread
goddesses of the country people, Eunice, and Malis, and Nycheia, with her
April eyes.  And now the boy was holding out the wide-mouthed pitcher to
the water, intent on dipping it, but the nymphs all clung to his hand,
for love of the Argive lad had fluttered the soft hearts of all of them.
Then down he sank into the black water, headlong all, as when a star
shoots flaming from the sky, plumb in the deep it falls, and a mate
shouts out to the seamen, ‘Up with the gear, my lads, the wind is fair
for sailing.’

Then the nymphs held the weeping boy on their laps, and with gentle words
were striving to comfort him.  But the son of Amphitryon was troubled
about the lad, and went forth, carrying his bended bow in Scythian
fashion, and the club that is ever grasped in his right hand.  Thrice he
shouted ‘Hylas!’ as loud as his deep throat could call, and thrice again
the boy heard him, and thin came his voice from the water, and, hard by
though he was, he seemed very far away.  And as when a bearded lion, a
ravening lion on the hills, hears the bleating of a fawn afar off, and
rushes forth from his lair to seize it, his readiest meal, even so the
mighty Heracles, in longing for the lad, sped through the trackless
briars, and ranged over much country.

Reckless are lovers: great toils did Heracles bear, in hills and thickets
wandering, and Iason’s quest was all postponed to this.  Now the ship
abode with her tackling aloft, and the company gathered there, {70} but
at midnight the young men were lowering the sails again, awaiting
Heracles.  But he wheresoever his feet might lead him went wandering in
his fury, for the cruel Goddess of love was rending his heart within him.

Thus loveliest Hylas is numbered with the Blessed, but for a runaway they
girded at Heracles, the heroes, because he roamed from Argo of the sixty
oarsmen.  But on foot he came to Colchis and inhospitable Phasis.


_This Idyl_, _like the next_, _is dramatic in form_.  _One Aeschines
tells Thyonichus the story of his quarrel with his mistress Cynisca_.
_He speaks of taking foreign service_, _and Thyonichus recommends that of
Ptolemy_.  _The idyl was probably written at Alexandria_, _as a
compliment to Ptolemy_, _and an inducement to Greeks to join his forces_.
_There is nothing_, _however_, _to fix the date_.

                                * * * * *

_Aeschines_.  All hail to the stout Thyonichus!

_Thyonichus_.  As much to you, Aeschines.

_Aeschines_.  How long it is since we met!

_Thyonichus_.  Is it so long?  But why, pray, this melancholy?

_Aeschines_.  I am not in the best of luck, Thyonichus.

_Thyonichus_.  ’Tis for that, then, you are so lean, and hence comes this
long moustache, and these love-locks all adust.  Just such a figure was a
Pythagorean that came here of late, barefoot and wan,—and said he was an
Athenian.  Marry, he too was in love, methinks, with a plate of pancakes.

_Aeschines_.  Friend, you will always have your jest,—but beautiful
Cynisca,—she flouts me!  I shall go mad some day, when no man looks for
it; I am but a hair’s-breadth on the hither side, even now.

_Thyonichus_.  You are ever like this, dear Aeschines, now mad, now sad,
and crying for all things at your whim.  Yet, tell me, what is your new

_Aeschines_.  The Argive, and I, and the Thessalian rough rider, Apis,
and Cleunichus the free lance, were drinking together, at my farm.  I had
killed two chickens, and a sucking pig, and had opened the Bibline wine
for them,—nearly four years old,—but fragrant as when it left the
wine-press.  Truffles and shellfish had been brought out, it was a jolly
drinking match.  And when things were now getting forwarder, we
determined that each of us should toast whom he pleased, in unmixed wine,
only he must name his toast.  So we all drank, and called our toasts as
had been agreed.  Yet She said nothing, though I was there; how think you
I liked that?  ‘Won’t you call a toast?  You have seen the wolf!’ some
one said in jest, ‘as the proverb goes,’ {72} then she kindled; yes, you
could easily have lighted a lamp at her face.  There is one Wolf, one
Wolf there is, the son of Labes our neighbour,—he is tall,
smooth-skinned, many think him handsome.  His was that illustrious love
in which she was pining, yes, and a breath about the business once came
secretly to my ears, but I never looked into it, beshrew my beard!

Already, mark you, we four men were deep in our cups, when the Larissa
man out of mere mischief, struck up, ‘My Wolf,’ some Thessalian catch,
from the very beginning.  Then Cynisca suddenly broke out weeping more
bitterly than a six-year-old maid, that longs for her mother’s lap.  Then
I,—you know me, Thyonichus,—struck her on the cheek with clenched
fist,—one two!  She caught up her robes, and forth she rushed, quicker
than she came.  ‘Ah, my undoing’ (cried I), ‘I am not good enough for
you, then—you have a dearer playfellow? well, be off and cherish your
other lover, ’tis for him your tears run big as apples!’ {73}

And as the swallow flies swiftly back to gather a morsel, fresh food, for
her young ones under the eaves, still swifter sped she from her soft
chair, straight through the vestibule and folding-doors, wherever her
feet carried her.  So, sure, the old proverb says, ‘the bull has sought
the wild wood.’

Since then there are twenty days, and eight to these, and nine again,
then ten others, to-day is the eleventh, add two more, and it is two
months since we parted, and I have not shaved, not even in Thracian
fashion. {74a}

And now Wolf is everything with her.  Wolf finds the door open o’ nights,
and I am of no account, not in the reckoning, like the wretched men of
Megara, in the place dishonourable. {74b}

And if I could cease to love, the world would wag as well as may be.  But
now,—now,—as they say, Thyonichus, I am like the mouse that has tasted
pitch.  And what remedy there may be for a bootless love, I know not;
except that Simus, he who was in love with the daughter of Epicalchus,
went over seas, and came back heart-whole,—a man of my own age.  And I
too will cross the water, and prove not the first, maybe, nor the last,
perhaps, but a fair soldier as times go.

_Thyonichus_.  Would that things had gone to your mind, Aeschines.  But
if, in good earnest, you are thus set on going into exile, PTOLEMY is the
free man’s best paymaster!

_Aeschines_.  And in other respects, what kind of man?

_Thyonichus_.  The free man’s best paymaster!  Indulgent too, the Muses’
darling, a true lover, the top of good company, knows his friends, and
still better knows his enemies.  A great giver to many, refuses nothing
that he is asked which to give may beseem a king, but, Aeschines, we
should not always be asking.  Thus, if you are minded to pin up the top
corner of your cloak over the right shoulder, and if you have the heart
to stand steady on both feet, and bide the brunt of a hardy targeteer,
off instantly to Egypt!  From the temples downward we all wax grey, and
on to the chin creeps the rime of age, men must do somewhat while their
knees are yet nimble.


_This famous idyl should rather_, _perhaps_, _be called a mimus_.  _It
describes the visit paid by two Syracusan women residing in Alexandria_,
_to the festival of the resurrection of Adonis_.  _The festival is given
by Arsinoë_, _wife and sister of Ptolemy Philadelphus_, _and the poem
cannot have been written earlier than his marriage_, _in_ 266 B.C. [?]
_Nothing can be more gay and natural than the chatter of the women_,
_which has changed no more in two thousand years than the song of birds_.
_Theocritus is believed to have had a model for this idyl in the
Isthmiazusae of Sophron_, _an older poet_.  _In the Isthmiazusae two
ladies described the spectacle of the Isthmian games_.

                                * * * * *

_Gorgo_.  Is Praxinoë at home?

_Praxinoë_.  Dear Gorgo, how long it is since you have been here!  She
_is_ at home.  The wonder is that you have got here at last!  Eunoë, see
that she has a chair.  Throw a cushion on it too.

_Gorgo_.  It does most charmingly as it is.

_Praxinoë_.  Do sit down.

_Gorgo_.  Oh, what a thing spirit is!  I have scarcely got to you alive,
Praxinoë!  What a huge crowd, what hosts of four-in-hands!  Everywhere
cavalry boots, everywhere men in uniform!  And the road is endless: yes,
you really live _too_ far away!

_Praxinoë_.  It is all the fault of that madman of mine.  Here he came to
the ends of the earth and took—a hole, not a house, and all that we might
not be neighbours.  The jealous wretch, always the same, ever for spite!

_Gorgo_.  Don’t talk of your husband, Dinon, like that, my dear girl,
before the little boy,—look how he is staring at you!  Never mind,
Zopyrion, sweet child, she is not speaking about papa.

_Praxinoë_.  Our Lady! the child takes notice. {77}

_Gorgo_.  Nice papa!

_Praxinoë_.  That papa of his the other day—we call every day ‘the other
day’—went to get soap and rouge at the shop, and back he came to me with
salt—the great big endless fellow!

_Gorgo_.  Mine has the same trick, too, a perfect spendthrift—Diocleides!
Yesterday he got what he meant for five fleeces, and paid seven shillings
a piece for—what do you suppose?—dogskins, shreds of old leather wallets,
mere trash—trouble on trouble.  But come, take your cloak and shawl.  Let
us be off to the palace of rich Ptolemy, the King, to see the Adonis; I
hear the Queen has provided something splendid!

_Praxinoë_.  Fine folks do everything finely.

_Gorgo_.  What a tale you will have to tell about the things you have
seen, to any one who has not seen them!  It seems nearly time to go.

_Praxinoë_.  Idlers have always holiday.  Eunoë, bring the water and put
it down in the middle of the room, lazy creature that you are.  Cats like
always to sleep soft! {78a}  Come, bustle, bring the water; quicker.  I
want water first, and how she carries it! give it me all the same; don’t
pour out so much, you extravagant thing.  Stupid girl!  Why are you
wetting my dress?  There, stop, I have washed my hands, as heaven would
have it.  Where is the key of the big chest?  Bring it here.

_Gorgo_.  Praxinoë, that full body becomes you wonderfully.  Tell me how
much did the stuff cost you just off the loom?

_Praxinoë_.  Don’t speak of it, Gorgo!  More than eight pounds in good
silver money,—and the work on it!  I nearly slaved my soul out over it!

_Gorgo_.  Well, it is _most_ successful; all you could wish. {78b}

_Praxinoë_.  Thanks for the pretty speech!  Bring my shawl, and set my
hat on my head, the fashionable way.  No, child, I don’t mean to take
you.  Boo!  Bogies!  There’s a horse that bites!  Cry as much as you
please, but I cannot have you lamed.  Let us be moving.  Phrygia take the
child, and keep him amused, call in the dog, and shut the street door.

                                               [_They go into the street_.

Ye gods, what a crowd!  How on earth are we ever to get through this
coil?  They are like ants that no one can measure or number.  Many a good
deed have you done, Ptolemy; since your father joined the immortals,
there’s never a malefactor to spoil the passer-by, creeping on him in
Egyptian fashion—oh! the tricks those perfect rascals used to play.
Birds of a feather, ill jesters, scoundrels all!  Dear Gorgo, what will
become of us?  Here come the King’s war-horses!  My dear man, don’t
trample on me.  Look, the bay’s rearing, see, what temper!  Eunoë, you
foolhardy girl, will you never keep out of the way?  The beast will kill
the man that’s leading him.  What a good thing it is for me that my brat
stays safe at home.

_Gorgo_.  Courage, Praxinoë.  We are safe behind them, now, and they have
gone to their station.

_Praxinoë_.  There!  I begin to be myself again.  Ever since I was a
child I have feared nothing so much as horses and the chilly snake.  Come
along, the huge mob is overflowing us.

_Gorgo_ (_to an old Woman_).  Are you from the Court, mother?

_Old Woman_.  I am, my child.

_Praxinoë_.  Is it easy to get there?

_Old Woman_.  The Achaeans got into Troy by trying, my prettiest of
ladies.  Trying will do everything in the long run.

_Gorgo_.  The old wife has spoken her oracles, and off she goes.

_Praxinoë_.  Women know everything, yes, and how Zeus married Hera!

_Gorgo_.  See Praxinoë, what a crowd there is about the doors.

_Praxinoë_.  Monstrous, Gorgo!  Give me your hand, and you, Eunoë, catch
hold of Eutychis; never lose hold of her, for fear lest you get lost.
Let us all go in together; Eunoë, clutch tight to me.  Oh, how tiresome,
Gorgo, my muslin veil is torn in two already!  For heaven’s sake, sir, if
you ever wish to be fortunate, take care of my shawl!

_Stranger_.  I can hardly help myself, but for all that I will be as
careful as I can.

_Praxinoë_.  How close-packed the mob is, they hustle like a herd of

_Stranger_.  Courage, lady, all is well with us now.

_Praxinoë_.  Both this year and for ever may all be well with you, my
dear sir, for your care of us.  A good kind man!  We’re letting Eunoë get
squeezed—come, wretched girl, push your way through.  That is the way.
We are all on the right side of the door, quoth the bridegroom, when he
had shut himself in with his bride.

_Gorgo_.  Do come here, Praxinoë.  Look first at these embroideries.  How
light and how lovely!  You will call them the garments of the gods.

_Praxinoë_.  Lady Athene, what spinning women wrought them, what painters
designed these drawings, so true they are?  How naturally they stand and
move, like living creatures, not patterns woven.  What a clever thing is
man!  Ah, and himself—Adonis—how beautiful to behold he lies on his
silver couch, with the first down on his cheeks, the thrice-beloved
Adonis,—Adonis beloved even among the dead.

_A Stranger_.  You weariful women, do cease your endless cooing talk!
They bore one to death with their eternal broad vowels!

_Gorgo_.  Indeed!  And where may this person come from?  What is it to
you if we _are_ chatterboxes!  Give orders to your own servants, sir.  Do
you pretend to command ladies of Syracuse?  If you must know, we are
Corinthians by descent, like Bellerophon himself, and we speak
Peloponnesian.  Dorian women may lawfully speak Doric, I presume?

_Praxinoë_.  Lady Persephone, never may we have more than one master.  I
am not afraid of _your_ putting me on short commons.

_Gorgo_.  Hush, hush, Praxinoë—the Argive woman’s daughter, the great
singer, is beginning the _Adonis_; she that won the prize last year for
dirge-singing. {82}  I am sure she will give us something lovely; see,
she is preluding with her airs and graces.

                          _The Psalm of Adonis_.

O Queen that lovest Golgi, and Idalium, and the steep of Eryx, O
Aphrodite, that playest with gold, lo, from the stream eternal of Acheron
they have brought back to thee Adonis—even in the twelfth month they have
brought him, the dainty-footed Hours.  Tardiest of the Immortals are the
beloved Hours, but dear and desired they come, for always, to all
mortals, they bring some gift with them.  O Cypris, daughter of Diônê,
from mortal to immortal, so men tell, thou hast changed Berenice,
dropping softly in the woman’s breast the stuff of immortality.

Therefore, for thy delight, O thou of many names and many temples, doth
the daughter of Berenice, even Arsinoë, lovely as Helen, cherish Adonis
with all things beautiful.

Before him lie all ripe fruits that the tall trees’ branches bear, and
the delicate gardens, arrayed in baskets of silver, and the golden
vessels are full of incense of Syria.  And all the dainty cakes that
women fashion in the kneading-tray, mingling blossoms manifold with the
white wheaten flour, all that is wrought of honey sweet, and in soft
olive oil, all cakes fashioned in the semblance of things that fly, and
of things that creep, lo, here they are set before him.

Here are built for him shadowy bowers of green, all laden with tender
anise, and children flit overhead—the little Loves—as the young
nightingales perched upon the trees fly forth and try their wings from
bough to bough.

O the ebony, O the gold, O the twin eagles of white ivory that carry to
Zeus the son of Cronos his darling, his cup-bearer!  O the purple
coverlet strewn above, more soft than sleep!  So Miletus will say, and
whoso feeds sheep in Samos.

Another bed is strewn for beautiful Adonis, one bed Cypris keeps, and one
the rosy-armed Adonis.  A bridegroom of eighteen or nineteen years is he,
his kisses are not rough, the golden down being yet upon his lips!  And
now, good-night to Cypris, in the arms of her lover!  But lo, in the
morning we will all of us gather with the dew, and carry him forth among
the waves that break upon the beach, and with locks unloosed, and ungirt
raiment falling to the ankles, and bosoms bare will we begin our shrill
sweet song.

Thou only, dear Adonis, so men tell, thou only of the demigods dost visit
both this world and the stream of Acheron.  For Agamemnon had no such
lot, nor Aias, that mighty lord of the terrible anger, nor Hector, the
eldest born of the twenty sons of Hecabe, nor Patroclus, nor Pyrrhus,
that returned out of Troyland, nor the heroes of yet more ancient days,
the Lapithae and Deucalion’s sons, nor the sons of Pelops, and the chiefs
of Pelasgian Argus.  Be gracious now, dear Adonis, and propitious even in
the coming year.  Dear to us has thine advent been, Adonis, and dear
shall it be when thou comest again.

_Gorgo_.  Praxinoë, the woman is cleverer than we fancied!  Happy woman
to know so much, thrice happy to have so sweet a voice.  Well, all the
same, it is time to be making for home.  Diocleides has not had his
dinner, and the man is all vinegar,—don’t venture near him when he is
kept waiting for dinner.  Farewell, beloved Adonis, may you find us glad
at your next coming!


_In_ 265 B.C. _Sicily was devastated by the Carthaginians_, _and by the
companies of disciplined free-lances who called themselves Mamertines_,
_or Mars’s men_.  _The hopes of the Greek inhabitants of the island were
centred in Hiero_, _son of Hierocles_, _who was about to besiege Messana_
(_then held by the Carthaginians_) _and who had revived the courage of
the Syracusans_.  _To him Theocritus addressed this idyl_, _in which he
complains of the sordid indifference of the rich_, _rehearses the merits
of song_, _dilates on the true nature of wealth_, _and of the happy
lift_, _and finally expresses his hope that Hiero will rid the isle of
the foreign foe_, _and will restore peace and pastoral joys_.  _The idyl
contains some allusions to Simonides_, _the old lyric poet_, _and to his
relations with the famous Hiero tyrant of Syracuse_.

                                * * * * *

EVER is this the care of the maidens of Zeus, ever the care of minstrels,
to sing the Immortals, to sing the praises of noble men.  The Muses, lo,
are Goddesses, of Gods the Goddesses sing, but we on earth are mortal
men; let us mortals sing of mortals.  Ah, who of all them that dwell
beneath the grey morning, will open his door and gladly receive our
Graces within his house? who is there that will not send them back again
without a gift?  And they with looks askance, and naked feet come
homewards, and sorely they upbraid me when they have gone on a vain
journey, and listless again in the bottom of their empty coffer, they
dwell with heads bowed over their chilly knees, where is their drear
abode, when gainless they return.

Where is there such an one, among men to-day?  Where is he that will
befriend him that speaks his praises?  I know not, for now no longer, as
of old, are men eager to win the renown of noble deeds, nay, they are the
slaves of gain!  Each man clasps his hands below the purse-fold of his
gown, and looks about to spy whence he may get him money: the very rust
is too precious to be rubbed off for a gift.  Nay, each has his ready
saw; _the shin is further than the knee_; _first let me get my own_!
_’Tis the Gods’ affair to honour minstrels_!  _Homer is enough for every
one_, _who wants to hear any other_?  _He is the best of bards who takes
nothing that is mine_.

O foolish men, in the store of gold uncounted, what gain have ye?  Not in
this do the wise find the true enjoyment of wealth, but in that they can
indulge their own desires, and something bestow on one of the minstrels,
and do good deeds to many of their kin, and to many another man; and
always give altar-rites to the Gods, nor ever play the churlish host, but
kindly entreat the guest at table, and speed him when he would be gone.
And this, above all, to honour the holy interpreters of the Muses, that
so thou mayest have a goodly fame, even when hidden in Hades, nor ever
moan without renown by the chill water of Acheron, like one whose palms
the spade has hardened, some landless man bewailing the poverty that is
all his heritage.

Many were the thralls that in the palace of Antiochus, and of king Aleuas
drew out their monthly dole, many the calves that were driven to the
penns of the Scopiadae, and lowed with the horned kine: countless on the
Crannonian plain did shepherds pasture beneath the sky the choicest sheep
of the hospitable Creondae, yet from all this they had no joy, when once
into the wide raft of hateful Acheron they had breathed sweet life away!
Yea, unremembered (though they had left all that rich store), for ages
long would they have lain among the dead forlorn, if a name among later
men the skilled Ceian minstrel had spared to bestow, singing his bright
songs to a harp of many strings.  Honour too was won by the swift steeds
that came home to them crowned from the sacred contests.

And who would ever have known the Lycian champions of time past, who
Priam’s long-haired sons, and Cycnus, white of skin as a maiden, if
minstrels had not chanted of the war cries of the old heroes?  Nor would
Odysseus have won his lasting glory, for all his ten years wandering
among all folks; and despite the visit he paid, he a living man, to
inmost Hades, and for all his escape from the murderous Cyclops’s
cave,—unheard too were the names of the swineherd Eumaeus, and of
Philoetius, busy with the kine of the herds; yea, and even of Laertes,
high of heart; if the songs of the Ionian man had not kept them in

From the Muses comes a goodly report to men, but the living heirs devour
the possessions of the dead.  But, lo, it is as light labour to count the
waves upon the beach, as many as wind and grey sea-tide roll upon the
shore, or in violet-hued water to cleanse away the stain from a potsherd,
as to win favour from a man that is smitten with the greed of gain.
Good-day to such an one, and countless be his coin, and ever may he be
possessed by a longing desire for more!  But I for my part would choose
honour and the loving-kindness of men, far before wealth in mules and

I am seeking to what mortal I may come, a welcome guest, with the help of
the Muses, for hard indeed do minstrels find the ways, who go
uncompanioned by the daughters of deep-counselling Zeus.  Not yet is the
heaven aweary of rolling the months onwards, and the years, and many a
horse shall yet whirl the chariot wheels, and the man shall yet be found,
who will take me for his minstrel; a man of deeds like those that great
Achilles wrought, or puissant Aias, in the plain of Simois, where is the
tomb of Phrygian Ilus.

Even now the Phoenicians that dwell beneath the setting sun on the spur
of Libya, shudder for dread, even now the Syracusans poise lances in
rest, and their arms are burdened by the linden shields.  Among them
Hiero, like the mighty men of old, girds himself for fight, and the
horse-hair crest is shadowing his helmet.  Ah, Zeus, our father renowned,
and ah, lady Athene, and O thou Maiden that with the Mother dost possess
the great burg of the rich Ephyreans, by the water of Lusimeleia, {89}
would that dire necessity may drive our foemen from the isle, along the
Sardinian wave, to tell the doom of their friends to children and to
wives—messengers easy to number out of so many warriors!  But as for our
cities may they again be held by their ancient masters,—all the cities
that hostile hands have utterly spoiled.  May our people till the
flowering fields, and may thousands of sheep unnumbered fatten ’mid the
herbage, and bleat along the plain, while the kine as they come in droves
to the stalls warn the belated traveller to hasten on his way.  May the
fallows be broken for the seed-time, while the cicala, watching the
shepherds as they toil in the sun, in the shade of the trees doth sing on
the topmost sprays.  May spiders weave their delicate webs over martial
gear, may none any more so much as name the cry of onset!

But the fame of Hiero may minstrels bear aloft, across the Scythian sea,
and where Semiramis reigned, that built the mighty wall, and made it fast
with slime for mortar.  I am but one of many that are loved by the
daughters of Zeus, and they all are fain to sing of Sicilian Arethusa,
with the people of the isle, and the warrior Hiero.  O Graces, ye
Goddesses, adored of Eteocles, ye that love Orchomenos of the Minyae, the
ancient enemy of Thebes, when no man bids me, let me abide at home, but
to the houses of such as bid me, boldly let me come with my Muses.  Nay,
neither the Muses nor you Graces will I leave behind, for without the
Graces what have men that is desirable? with the Graces of song may I
dwell for ever!


_The poet praises Ptolemy Philadelphus in a strain of almost religious
adoration_.  _Hauler_, _in his Life of Theocritus_, _dates the poem
about_ 259 B.C., _but it may have been many years earlier_.

                                * * * * *

FROM Zeus let us begin, and with Zeus make end, ye Muses, whensoever we
chant in songs the chiefest of immortals!  But of men, again, let Ptolemy
be named, among the foremost, and last, and in the midmost place, for of
men he hath the pre-eminence.  The heroes that in old days were begotten
of the demigods, wrought noble deeds, and chanced on minstrels skilled,
but I, with what skill I have in song, would fain make my hymn of
Ptolemy, and hymns are the glorious meed, yea, of the very immortals.

When the feller hath come up to wooded Ida, he glances around, so many
are the trees, to see whence he should begin his labour.  Where first
shall _I_ begin the tale, for there are countless things ready for the
telling, wherewith the Gods have graced the most excellent of kings?

Even by virtue of his sires, how mighty was he to accomplish some great
work,—Ptolemy son of Lagus,—when he had stored in his mind such a design,
as no other man was able even to devise!  Him hath the Father stablished
in the same honour as the blessed immortals, and for him a golden mansion
in the house of Zeus is builded; beside him is throned Alexander, that
dearly loves him, Alexander, a grievous god to the white-turbaned

And over against them is set the throne of Heracles, the slayer of the
Bull, wrought of stubborn adamant.  There holds he festival with the rest
of the heavenly host, rejoicing exceedingly in his far-off children’s
children, for that the son of Cronos hath taken old age clean away from
their limbs, and they are called immortals, being his offspring.  For the
strong son of Heracles is ancestor of the twain, I and both are reckoned
to Heracles, on the utmost of the lineage.

Therefore when he hath now had his fill of fragrant nectar, and is going
from the feast to the bower of his bed-fellow dear, to one of his
children he gives his bow, and the quiver that swings beneath his elbow,
to the other his knotted mace of iron.  Then they to the ambrosial bower
of white-ankled Hera, convey the weapons and the bearded son of Zeus.

Again, how shone renowned Berenice among the wise of womankind, how great
a boon was she to them that begat her!  Yea, in her fragrant breast did
the Lady of Cyprus, the queenly daughter of Dione, lay her slender hands,
wherefore they say that never any woman brought man such delight as came
from the love borne to his wife by Ptolemy.  And verily he was loved
again with far greater love, and in such a wedlock a man may well trust
all his house to his children, whensoever he goes to the bed of one that
loves him as he loves her.  But the mind of a woman that loves not is set
ever on a stranger, and she hath children at her desire, but they are
never like the father.

O thou that amongst the Goddesses hast the prize of beauty, O Lady
Aphrodite, thy care was she, and by thy favour the lovely Berenice
crossed not Acheron, the river of mourning, but thou didst catch her
away, ere she came to the dark water, and to the still-detested ferryman
of souls outworn, and in thy temple didst thou instal her, and gavest her
a share of thy worship.  Kindly is she to all mortals, and she breathes
into them soft desires, and she lightens the cares of him that is in

O dark-browed lady of Argos, {93} in wedlock with Tydeus didst thou bear
slaying Diomede, a hero of Calydon, and, again, deep-bosomed Thetis to
Peleus, son of Aeacus, bare the spearman Achilles.  But thee, O warrior
Ptolemy, to Ptolemy the warrior bare the glorious Berenice!  And Cos did
foster thee, when thou wert still a child new-born, and received thee at
thy mother’s hand, when thou saw’st thy first dawning.  For there she
called aloud on Eilithyia, loosener of the girdle; she called, the
daughter of Antigone, when heavy on her came the pangs of childbirth.
And Eilithyia was present to help her, and so poured over all her limbs
release from pain.  Then the beloved child was born, his father’s very
counterpart.  And Cos brake forth into a cry, when she beheld it, and
touching the child with kind hands, she said:

‘Blessed, O child, mayst thou be, and me mayst thou honour even as
Phoebus Apollo honours Delos of the azure crown, yea, stablish in the
same renown the Triopean hill, and allot such glory to the Dorians
dwelling nigh, as that wherewithal Prince Apollo favours Rhenaea.’

Lo, thus spake the Isle, but far aloft under the clouds a great eagle
screamed thrice aloud, the ominous bird of Zeus.  This sign, methinks,
was of Zeus; Zeus, the son of Cronos, in his care hath awful kings, but
he is above all, whom Zeus loved from the first, even from his birth.
Great fortune goes with him, and much land he rules, and wide sea.

Countless are the lands, and tribes of men innumerable win increase of
the soil that waxeth under the rain of Zeus, but no land brings forth so
much as low-lying Egypt, when Nile wells up and breaks the sodden soil.
Nor is there any land that hath so many towns of men skilled in
handiwork; therein are three centuries of cities builded, and thousands
three, and to these three myriads, and cities twice three, and beside
these, three times nine, and over them all high-hearted Ptolemy is king.

Yea, and he taketh him a portion of Phoenicia, and of Arabia, and of
Syria, and of Libya, and the black Aethiopians.  And he is lord of all
the Pamphylians, and the Cilician warriors, and the Lycians, and the
Carians, that joy in battle, and lord of the isles of the Cyclades,—since
his are the best of ships that sail over the deep,—yea, all the sea, and
land and the sounding rivers are ruled by Ptolemy.  Many are his
horsemen, and many his targeteers that go clanging in harness of shining
bronze.  And in weight of wealth he surpasses all kings; such treasure
comes day by day from every side to his rich palace, while the people are
busy about their labours in peace.  For never hath a foeman marched up
the bank of teaming Nile, and raised the cry of war in villages not his
own, nor hath any cuirassed enemy leaped ashore from his swift ship, to
harry the kine of Egypt.  So mighty a hero hath his throne established in
the broad plains, even Ptolemy of the fair hair, a spearman skilled,
whose care is above all, as a good king’s should be, to keep all the
heritage of his fathers, and yet more he himself doth win.  Nay, nor
useless in _his_ wealthy house, is the gold, like piled stores of the
still toilsome ants, but the glorious temples of the gods have their rich
share, for constant first-fruits he renders, with many another due, and
much is lavished on mighty kings, much on cities, much on faithful
friends.  And never to the sacred contests of Dionysus comes any man that
is skilled to raise the shrill sweet song, but Ptolemy gives him a
guerdon worthy of his art.  And the interpreters of the Muses sing of
Ptolemy, in return for his favours.  Nay, what fairer thing might befall
a wealthy man, than to win a goodly renown among mortals?

This abides even by the sons of Atreus, but all those countless treasures
that they won, when they took the mighty house of Priam, are hidden away
in the mist, whence there is no returning.

Ptolemy alone presses his own feet in the footmarks, yet glowing in the
dust, of his fathers that were before him.  To his mother dear, and his
father he hath stablished fragrant temples; therein has he set their
images, splendid with gold and ivory, to succour all earthly men.  And
many fat thighs of kine doth he burn on the empurpled altars, as the
months roll by, he and his stately wife; no nobler lady did ever embrace
a bridegroom in the halls, who loves, with her whole heart, her brother,
her lord.  On this wise was the holy bridal of the Immortals, too,
accomplished, even of the pair that great Rhea bore, the rulers of
Olympus; and one bed for the slumber of Zeus and of Hera doth Iris strew,
with myrrh-anointed hands, the virgin Iris.

Prince Ptolemy, farewell, and of thee will I make mention, even as of the
other demigods; and a word methinks I will utter not to be rejected of
men yet unborn,—excellence, howbeit, thou shalt gain from Zeus.


_This epithalamium may have been written for the wedding of a friend of
the poet’s_.  _The idea is said to have been borrowed from an old poem by
Stesichorus_.  _The epithalamium was chanted at night by a chorus of
girls_, _outside the bridal chamber_.  _Compare the conclusion of the
hymn of Adonis_, _in the fifteenth Idyl_.

                                * * * * *

IN Sparta, once, to the house of fair-haired Menelaus, came maidens with
the blooming hyacinth in their hair, and before the new painted chamber
arrayed their dance,—twelve maidens, the first in the city, the glory of
Laconian girls,—what time the younger Atrides had wooed and won Helen,
and closed the door of the bridal-bower on the beloved daughter of
Tyndarus.  Then sang they all in harmony, beating time with woven paces,
and the house rang round with the bridal song.

                              _The Chorus_.

Thus early art thou sleeping, dear bridegroom, say are thy limbs heavy
with slumber, or art thou all too fond of sleep, or hadst thou perchance
drunken over well, ere thou didst fling thee to thy rest?  Thou shouldst
have slept betimes, and alone, if thou wert so fain of sleep; thou
shouldst have left the maiden with maidens beside her mother dear, to
play till deep in the dawn, for to-morrow, and next day, and for all the
years, Menelaus, she is thy bride.

O happy bridegroom, some good spirit sneezed out on thee a blessing, as
thou wert approaching Sparta whither went the other princes, that so thou
mightst win thy desire!  Alone among the demigods shalt thou have Zeus
for father!  Yea, and the daughter of Zeus has come beneath one coverlet
with thee, so fair a lady, peerless among all Achaean women that walk the
earth.  Surely a wondrous child would she bear thee, if she bore one like
the mother!

For lo, we maidens are all of like age with her, and one course we were
wont to run, anointed in manly fashion, by the baths of Eurotas.  Four
times sixty girls were we, the maiden flower of the land, {98} but of us
all not one was faultless, when matched with Helen.

As the rising Dawn shows forth her fairer face than thine, O Night, or as
the bright Spring, when Winter relaxes his hold, even so amongst us still
she shone, the golden Helen.  Even as the crops spring up, the glory of
the rich plough land; or, as is the cypress in the garden; or, in a
chariot, a horse of Thessalian breed, even so is rose-red Helen the glory
of Lacedaemon.  No other in her basket of wool winds forth such goodly
work, and none cuts out, from between the mighty beams, a closer warp
than that her shuttle weaves in the carven loom.  Yea, and of a truth
none other smites the lyre, hymning Artemis and broad-breasted Athene,
with such skill as Helen, within whose eyes dwell all the Loves.

O fair, O gracious damsel, even now art thou a wedded wife; but we will
go forth right early to the course we ran, and to the grassy meadows, to
gather sweet-breathing coronals of flowers, thinking often upon thee,
Helen, even as youngling lambs that miss the teats of the mother-ewe.
For thee first will we twine a wreath of lotus flowers that lowly grow,
and hang it on a shadowy plane tree, for thee first will we take soft oil
from the silver phial, and drop it beneath a shadowy plane tree, and
letters will we grave on the bark, in Dorian wise, so that the wayfarer
may read:

                     WORSHIP ME, I AM THE TREE OF HELEN.

Good night, thou bride, good night, thou groom that hast won a mighty
sire!  May Leto, Leto, the nurse of noble offspring, give you the
blessing of children; and may Cypris, divine Cypris, grant you equal
love, to cherish each the other; and may Zeus, even Zeus the son of
Cronos, give you wealth imperishable, to be handed down from generation
to generation of the princes.

Sleep ye, breathing love and desire each into the other’s breast, but
forget not to wake in the dawning, and at dawn we too will come, when the
earliest cock shrills from his perch, and raises his feathered neck.

_Hymen_, _O Hymenae_, _rejoice thou in this bridal_.


_This little piece is but doubtfully ascribed to Theocritus_.  _The motif
is that of a well-known Anacreontic Ode_.  _The idyl has been translated
by Ronsard_.

                                * * * * *

THE thievish Love,—a cruel bee once stung him, as he was rifling honey
from the hives, and pricked his finger-tips all; then he was in pain, and
blew upon his hand, and leaped, and stamped the ground.  And then he
showed his hurt to Aphrodite, and made much complaint, how that the bee
is a tiny creature, and yet what wounds it deals!  And his mother laughed
out, and said, ‘Art thou not even such a creature as the bees, for tiny
art thou, but what wounds thou dealest!’


_A herdsman_, _who had been contemptuously rejected by Eunica_, _a girl
of the town_, _protests that he is beautiful_, _and that Eunica is
prouder than Cybele_, _Selene_, _and Aphrodite_, _all of whom loved
mortal herdsmen_.  _For grammatical and other reasons_, _some critics
consider this idyl apocryphal_.

                                * * * * *

EUNICA laughed out at me when sweetly I would have kissed her, and
taunting me, thus she spoke: ‘Get thee gone from me!  Wouldst thou kiss
me, wretch; thou—a neatherd?  I never learned to kiss in country fashion,
but to press lips with city gentlefolks.  Never hope to kiss my lovely
mouth, nay, not even in a dream.  How thou dost look, what chatter is
thine, how countrified thy tricks are, how delicate thy talk, how easy
thy tattle!  And then thy beard—so soft! thy elegant hair!  Why, thy lips
are like some sick man’s, thy hands are black, and thou art of evil
savour.  Away with thee, lest thy presence soil me!’  These taunts she
mouthed, and thrice spat in the breast of her gown, and stared at me all
over from head to feet; shooting out her lips, and glancing with
half-shut eyes, writhing her beautiful body, and so sneered, and laughed
me to scorn.  And instantly my blood boiled, and I grew red under the
sting, as a rose with dew.  And she went off and left me, but I bear
angry pride deep in my heart, that I, the handsome shepherd, should have
been mocked by a wretched light-o’-love.

Shepherds, tell me the very truth; am I not beautiful?  Has some God
changed me suddenly to another man?  Surely a sweet grace ever blossomed
round me, till this hour, like ivy round a tree, and covered my chin, and
about my temples fell my locks, like curling parsley-leaves, and white
shone my forehead above my dark eyebrows.  Mine eyes were brighter far
than the glance of the grey-eyed Athene, my mouth than even pressed milk
was sweeter, and from my lips my voice flowed sweeter than honey from the
honeycomb.  Sweet too, is my music, whether I make melody on pipe, or
discourse on the flute, or reed, or flageolet.  And all the
mountain-maidens call me beautiful, and they would kiss me, all of them.
But the city girl did not kiss me, but ran past me, because I am a
neatherd, and she never heard how fair Dionysus in the dells doth drive
the calves, and knows not that Cypris was wild with love for a herdsman,
and drove afield in the mountains of Phrygia; ay, and Adonis himself,—in
the oakwood she kissed, in the oakwood she bewailed him.  And what was
Endymion? was he not a neatherd? whom nevertheless as he watched his
herds Selene saw and loved, and from Olympus descending she came to the
Latmian glade, and lay in one couch with the boy; and thou, Rhea, dust
weep for thy herdsman.

And didst not thou, too, Son of Cronos, take the shape of a wandering
bird, and all for a cowherd boy?

But Eunica alone would not kiss the herdsman; Eunica, she that is greater
than Cybele, and Cypris, and Selene!

Well, Cypris, never mayst thou, in city or on hillside, kiss thy darling,
{104} and lonely all the long night mayst thou sleep!


_After some verses addressed to Diophantus_, _a friend about whom nothing
is known_, _the poet describes the toilsome life of two old fishermen_.
_One of them has dreamed of catching a golden fish_, _and has sworn_, _in
his dream_, _never again to tempt the sea_.  _The other reminds him that
his oath is as empty as his vision_, _and that he must angle for common
fish_, _if he would not starve among his golden dreams_.  _The idyl is_,
_unfortunately_, _corrupt beyond hope of certain correction_.

                                * * * * *

’TIS Poverty alone, Diophantus, that awakens the arts; Poverty, the very
teacher of labour.  Nay, not even sleep is permitted, by weary cares, to
men that live by toil, and if, for a little while, one close his eyes
{105} in the night, cares throng about him, and suddenly disquiet his

Two fishers, on a time, two old men, together lay and slept; they had
strown the dry sea-moss for a bed in their wattled cabin, and there they
lay against the leafy wall.  Beside them were strewn the instruments of
their toilsome hands, the fishing-creels, the rods of reed, the hooks,
the sails bedraggled with sea-spoil, {106a} the lines, the weds, the
lobster pots woven of rushes, the seines, two oars, {106b} and an old
coble upon props.  Beneath their heads was a scanty matting, their
clothes, their sailor’s caps.  Here was all their toil, here all their
wealth.  The threshold had never a door, nor a watch-dog; {106c} all
things, all, to them seemed superfluity, for Poverty was their sentinel.
They had no neighbour by them, but ever against their narrow cabin gently
floated up the sea.

The chariot of the moon had not yet reached the mid-point of her course,
but their familiar toil awakened the fishermen; from their eyelids they
cast out slumber, and roused their souls with speech. {106d}

_Asphalion_.  They lie all, my friend, who say that the nights wane short
in summer, when Zeus brings the long days.  Already have I seen ten
thousand dreams, and the dawn is not yet.  Am I wrong, what ails them,
the nights are surely long?

_The Friend_.  Asphalion, thou blamest the beautiful summer!  It is not
that the season hath wilfully passed his natural course, but care,
breaking thy sleep, makes night seem long to thee.

_Asphalion_.  Didst ever learn to interpret dreams? for good dreams have
I beheld.  I would not have thee to go without thy share in my vision;
even as we go shares in the fish we catch, so share all my dreams!  Sure,
thou art not to be surpassed in wisdom; and he is the best interpreter of
dreams that hath wisdom for his teacher.  Moreover, we have time to idle
in, for what could a man find to do, lying on a leafy bed beside the wave
and slumbering not?  Nay, the ass is among the thorns, the lantern in the
town hall, for, they say, it is always sleepless. {107}

_The Friend_.  Tell me, then, the vision of the night; nay, tell all to
thy friend.

_Asphalion_.  As I was sleeping late, amid the labours of the salt sea
(and truly not too full-fed, for we supped early if thou dost remember,
and did not overtax our bellies), I saw myself busy on a rock, and there
I sat and watched the fishes, and kept spinning the bait with the rods.
And one of the fish nibbled, a fat one, for in sleep dogs dream of bread,
and of fish dream I.  Well, he was tightly hooked, and the blood was
running, and the rod I grasped was bent with his struggle.  So with both
hands I strained, and had a sore tussle for the monster.  How was I ever
to land so big a fish with hooks all too slim?  Then just to remind him
he was hooked, I gently pricked him, {108a} pricked, and slackened, and,
as he did not run, I took in line.  My toil was ended with the sight of
my prize; I drew up a golden fish, lo you, a fish all plated thick with
gold!  Then fear took hold of me, lest he might be some fish beloved of
Posidon, or perchance some jewel of the sea-grey Amphitrite.  Gently I
unhooked him, lest ever the hooks should retain some of the gold of his
mouth.  Then I dragged him on shore with the ropes, {108b} and swore that
never again would I set foot on sea, but abide on land, and lord it over
the gold.

This was even what wakened me, but, for the rest, set thy mind to it, my
friend, for I am in dismay about the oath I swore.

_The Friend_.  Nay, never fear, thou art no more sworn than thou hast
found the golden fish of thy vision; dreams are but lies.  But if thou
wilt search these waters, wide awake, and not asleep, there is some hope
in thy slumbers; seek the fish of flesh, lest thou die of famine with all
thy dreams of gold!


_This is a hymn_, _in the Homeric manner_, _to Castor and Polydeuces_.
_Compare the life and truth of the descriptions of nature_, _and of the
boxing-match_, _with the frigid manner of Apollonius
Rhodius_.—Argonautica, II. I. _seq._

                                * * * * *

WE hymn the children twain of Leda, and of aegis-bearing Zeus,—Castor,
and Pollux, the boxer dread, when he hath harnessed his knuckles in
thongs of ox-hide.  Twice hymn we, and thrice the stalwart sons of the
daughter of Thestias, the two brethren of Lacedaemon.  Succourers are
they of men in the very thick of peril, and of horses maddened in the
bloody press of battle, and of ships that, defying the stars that set and
rise in heaven, have encountered the perilous breath of storms.  The
winds raise huge billows about their stern, yea, or from the prow, or
even as each wind wills, and cast them into the hold of the ship, and
shatter both bulwarks, while with the sail hangs all the gear confused
and broken, and the storm-rain falls from heaven as night creeps on, and
the wide sea rings, being lashed by the gusts, and by showers of iron

Yet even so do ye draw forth the ships from the abyss, with their sailors
that looked immediately to die; and instantly the winds are still, and
there is an oily calm along the sea, and the clouds flee apart, this way
and that, also the _Bears_ appear, and in the midst, dimly seen, the
_Asses’ manger_, declaring that all is smooth for sailing.

O ye twain that aid all mortals, O beloved pair, ye knights, ye harpers,
ye wrestlers, ye minstrels, of Castor, or of Polydeuces first shall I
begin to sing?  Of both of you will I make my hymn, but first will I sing
of Polydeuces.

Even already had Argo fled forth from the Clashing Rocks, and the dread
jaws of snowy Pontus, and was come to the land of the Bebryces, with her
crew, dear children of the gods.  There all the heroes disembarked, down
one ladder, from both sides of the ship of Iason.  When they had landed
on the deep seashore and a sea-bank sheltered from the wind, they strewed
their beds, and their hands were busy with firewood. {111}

Then Castor of the swift steeds, and swart Polydeuces, these twain went
wandering alone, apart from their fellows, and marvelling at all the
various wildwood on the mountain.  Beneath a smooth cliff they found an
ever-flowing spring filled with the purest water, and the pebbles below
shone like crystal or silver from the deep.  Tall fir trees grew thereby,
and white poplars, and planes, and cypresses with their lofty tufts of
leaves, and there bloomed all fragrant flowers that fill the meadows when
early summer is waning—dear work-steads of the hairy bees.  But there a
monstrous man was sitting in the sun, terrible of aspect; the bruisers’
hard fists had crushed his ears, and his mighty breast and his broad back
were domed with iron flesh, like some huge statue of hammered iron.  The
muscles on his brawny arms, close by the shoulder, stood out like rounded
rocks, that the winter torrent has rolled, and worn smooth, in the great
swirling stream, but about his back and neck was draped a lion’s skin,
hung by the claws.  Him first accosted the champion, Polydeuces.

_Polydeuces_.  Good luck to thee, stranger, whosoe’er thou art!  What men
are they that possess this land?

_Amycus_.  What sort of luck, when I see men that I never saw before?

_Polydeuces_.  Fear not!  Be sure that those thou look’st on are neither
evil, nor the children of evil men.

_Amycus_.  No fear have I, and it is not for thee to teach me that

_Polydeuces_.  Art thou a savage, resenting all address, or some
vainglorious man?

_Amycus_.  I am that thou see’st, and on thy land, at least, I trespass

_Polydeuces_.  Come, and with kindly gifts return homeward again!

_Amycus_.  Gift me no gifts, none such have I ready for thee.

_Polydeuces_.  Nay, wilt thou not even grant us leave to taste this

_Amycus_.  That shalt thou learn when thirst has parched thy shrivelled

_Polydeuces_.  Will silver buy the boon, or with what price, prithee, may
we gain thy leave?

_Amycus_.  Put up thy hands and stand in single combat, man to man.

_Polydeuces_.  A boxing-match, or is kicking fair, when we meet eye to

_Amycus_.  Do thy best with thy fists and spare not thy skill!

_Polydeuces_.  And who is the man on whom I am to lay my hands and

_Amycus_.  Thou see’st him close enough, the boxer will not prove a

_Polydeuces_.  And is the prize ready, for which we two must fight?

_Amycus_.  Thy man shall I be called (shouldst thou win), or thou mine,
if I be victor.

_Polydeuces_.  On such terms fight the red-crested birds of the game.

_Amycus_.  Well, be we like birds or lions, we shall fight for no other

So Amycus spoke, and seized and blew his hollow shell, and speedily the
long-haired Bebryces gathered beneath the shadowy planes, at the blowing
of the shell.  And in likewise did Castor, eminent in war, go forth and
summon all the heroes from the Magnesian ship.  And the champions, when
they had strengthened their fists with the stout ox-skin gloves, and
bound long leathern thongs about their arms, stepped into the ring,
breathing slaughter against each other.  Then had they much ado, in that
assault,—which should have the sun’s light at his back.  But by thy
skill, Polydeuces, thou didst outwit the giant, and the sun’s rays fell
full on the face of Amycus.  Then came he eagerly on in great wrath and
heat, making play with his fists, but the son of Tyndarus smote him on
the chin as he charged, maddening him even more, and the giant confused
the fighting, laying on with all his weight, and going in with his head
down.  The Bebryces cheered their man, and on the other side the heroes
still encouraged stout Polydeuces, for they feared lest the giant’s
weight, a match for Tityus, might crush their champion in the narrow
lists.  But the son of Zeus stood to him, shifting his ground again and
again, and kept smiting him, right and left, and somewhat checked the
rush of the son of Posidon, for all his monstrous strength.  Then he
stood reeling like a drunken man under the blows, and spat out the red
blood, while all the heroes together raised a cheer, as they marked the
woful bruises about his mouth and jaws, and how, as his face swelled up,
his eyes were half closed.  Next, the prince teased him, feinting on
every side but seeing now that the giant was all abroad, he planted his
fist just above the middle of the nose, beneath the eyebrows, and skinned
all the brow to the bone.  Thus smitten, Amycus lay stretched on his
back, among the flowers and grasses.  There was fierce fighting when he
arose again, and they bruised each other well, laying on with the hard
weighted gloves; but the champion of the Bebryces was always playing on
the chest, and outside the neck, while unconquered Polydeuces kept
smashing his foeman’s face with ugly blows.  The giant’s flesh was
melting away in his sweat, till from a huge mass he soon became small
enough, but the limbs of the other waxed always stronger, and his colour
better, as he warmed to his work.

How then, at last, did the son of Zeus lay low the glutton? say goddess,
for thou knowest, but I, who am but the interpreter of others, will speak
all that thou wilt, and in such wise as pleases thee.

Now behold the giant was keen to do some great feat, so with his left
hand he grasped the left of Polydeuces, stooping slantwise from his
onset, while with his other hand he made his effort, and drove a huge
fist up from his right haunch.  Had his blow come home, he would have
harmed the King of Amyclae, but he slipped his head out of the way, and
then with his strong hand struck Amycus on the left temple, putting his
shoulder into the blow.  Quick gushed the black blood from the gaping
temple, while Polydeuces smote the giant’s mouth with his left, and the
close-set teeth rattled.  And still he punished his face with
quick-repeated blows, till the cheeks were fairly pounded.  Then Amycus
lay stretched all on the ground, fainting, and held out both his hands,
to show that he declined the fight, for he was near to death.

There then, despite thy victory, didst thou work him no insensate wrong,
O boxer Polydeuces, but to thee he swore a mighty oath, calling his sire
Posidon from the deep, that assuredly never again would he be violent to

Thee have I hymned, my prince; but thee now, Castor, will I sing, O son
of Tyndarus, O lord of the swift steeds, O wielder of the spear, thou
that wearest the corselet of bronze.

Now these twain, the sons of Zeus, had seized and were bearing away the
two daughters of Lycippus, and eagerly in sooth these two other brethren
were pursuing them, the sons of Aphareus, even they that should soon have
been the bridegrooms,—Lynceus and mighty Idas.  But when they were come
to the tomb of the dead Aphareus, then forth from their chariots they all
sprang together, and set upon each other, under the weight of their
spears and hollow shields.  But Lynceus again spake, and shouted loud
from under his vizor:—

‘Sirs, wherefore desire ye battle, and how are ye thus violent to win the
brides of others with naked swords in your hands.  To us, behold, did
Leucippus betroth these his daughters long before; to us this bridal is
by oath confirmed.  And ye did not well, in that to win the wives of
others ye perverted him with gifts of oxen, and mules, and other wealth,
and so won wedlock by bribes.  Lo many a time, in face of both of you, I
have spoken thus, I that am not a man of many words, saying,—“Not thus,
dear friends, does it become heroes to woo their wives, wives that
already have bridegrooms betrothed.  Lo Sparta is wide, and wide is Elis,
a land of chariots and horses, and Arcadia rich in sheep, and there are
the citadels of the Achaeans, and Messenia, and Argos, and all the
sea-coast of Sisyphus.  There be maidens by their parents nurtured,
maidens countless, that lack not aught in wisdom or in comeliness.  Of
these ye may easily win such as ye will, for many are willing to be the
fathers-in-law of noble youths, and ye are the very choice of heroes all,
as your fathers were, and all your father’s kin, and all your blood from
of old.  But, friends, let this our bridal find its due conclusion, and
for you let all of us seek out another marriage.”

‘Many such words I would speak, but the wind’s breath bare them away to
the wet wave of the sea, and no favour followed with my words.  For ye
twain are hard and ruthless,—nay, but even now do ye listen, for ye are
our cousins, and kin by the father’s side.  But if your heart yet lusts
for war, and with blood we must break up the kindred strife, and end the
feud, {118} then Idas and his cousin, mighty Polydeuces, shall hold their
hands and abstain from battle, but let us twain, Castor and I, the
younger born, try the ordeal of war!  Let us not leave the heaviest of
grief to our fathers!  Enough is one slain man from a house, but the
others will make festival for all their friends, and will be bridegrooms,
not slain men, and will wed these maidens.  Lo, it is fitting with light
loss to end a great dispute.’

So he spake, and these words the gods were not to make vain.  For the
elder pair laid down their harness from their shoulders on the ground,
but Lynceus stepped into the midst, swaying his mighty spear beneath the
outer rim of his shield, and even so did Castor sway his spear-points,
and the plumes were nodding above the crests of each.  With the sharp
spears long they laboured and tilted at each other, if perchance they
might anywhere spy a part of the flesh unarmed.  But ere either was
wounded the spear-points were broken, fast stuck in the linden shields.
Then both drew their swords from the sheaths, and again devised each the
other’s slaying, and there was no truce in the fight.  Many a time did
Castor smite on broad shield and horse-hair crest, and many a time the
keen-sighted Lynceus smote upon his shield, and his blade just shore the
scarlet plume.  Then, as he aimed the sharp sword at the left knee,
Castor drew back with his left foot, and hacked the fingers off the hand
of Lynceus.  Then he being smitten cast away his sword, and turned
swiftly to flee to the tomb of his father, where mighty Idas lay, and
watched this strife of kinsmen.  But the son of Tyndarus sped after him,
and drove the broad sword through bowels and navel, and instantly the
bronze cleft all in twain, and Lynceus bowed, and on his face he lay
fallen on the ground, and forthwith heavy sleep rushed down upon his

Nay, nor that other of her children did Laocoosa see, by the hearth of
his fathers, after he had fulfilled a happy marriage.  For lo, Messenian
Idas did swiftly break away the standing stone from the tomb of his
father Aphareus, and now he would have smitten the slayer of his brother,
but Zeus defended him and drave the polished stone from the hands of
Idas, and utterly consumed him with a flaming thunderbolt.

Thus it is no light labour to war with the sons of Tyndarus, for a mighty
pair are they, and mighty is he that begat them.

Farewell, ye children of Leda, and all goodly renown send ye ever to our
singing.  Dear are all minstrels to the sons of Tyndarus, and to Helen,
and to the other heroes that sacked Troy in aid of Menelaus.

For you, O princes, the bard of Chios wrought renown, when he sang the
city of Priam, and the ships of the Achaeans, and the Ilian war, and
Achilles, a tower of battle.  And to you, in my turn, the charms of the
clear-voiced Muses, even all that they can give, and all that my house
has in store, these do I bring.  The fairest meed of the gods is song.


_A lover hangs himself at the gate of his obdurate darling who_, _in
turn_, _is slain by a statue of Love_.

_This poem is not attributed with much certainty to Theocritus_, _and is
found in but a small proportion of manuscripts_.

                                * * * * *

A LOVE-SICK youth pined for an unkind love, beautiful in form, but fair
no more in mood.  The beloved hated the lover, and had for him no
gentleness at all, and knew not Love, how mighty a God is he, and what a
bow his hands do wield, and what bitter arrows he dealeth at the young.
Yea, in all things ever, in speech and in all approaches, was the beloved
unyielding.  Never was there any assuagement of Love’s fires, never was
there a smile of the lips, nor a bright glance of the eyes, never a
blushing cheek, nor a word, nor a kiss that lightens the burden of
desire.  Nay, as a beast of the wild wood hath the hunters in watchful
dread, even so did the beloved in all things regard the man, with angered
lips, and eyes that had the dreadful glance of fate, and the whole face
was answerable to this wrath, the colour fled from it, sicklied o’er with
wrathful pride.  Yet even thus was the loved one beautiful, and the lover
was the more moved by this haughtiness.  At length he could no more
endure so fierce a flame of the Cytherean, but drew near and wept by the
hateful dwelling, and kissed the lintel of the door, and thus he lifted
up his voice:

‘O cruel child, and hateful, thou nursling of some fierce lioness, O
child all of stone unworthy of love; I have come with these my latest
gifts to thee, even this halter of mine; for, child, I would no longer
anger thee and work thee pain.  Nay, I am going where thou hast condemned
me to fare, where, as men say, is the path, and there the common remedy
of lovers, the River of Forgetfulness.  Nay, but were I to take and drain
with my lips all the waters thereof, not even so shall I quench my
yearning desire.  And now I bid my farewell to these gates of thine.

‘Behold I know the thing that is to be.

‘Yea, the rose is beautiful, and Time he withers it; and fair is the
violet in spring, and swiftly it waxes old; white is the lily, it fadeth
when it falleth; and snow is white, and melteth after it hath been
frozen.  And the beauty of youth is fair, but lives only for a little

‘That time will come when thou too shalt love, when thy heart shall burn,
and thou shalt weep salt tears.

‘But, child, do me even this last favour; when thou comest forth, and
see’st me hanging in thy gateway,—pass me not careless by, thy hapless
lover, but stand, and weep a little while; and when thou hast made this
libation of thy tears, then loose me from the rope, and cast over me some
garment from thine own limbs, and so cover me from sight; but first kiss
me for that latest time of all, and grant the dead this grace of thy

‘Fear me not, I cannot live again, no, not though thou shouldst be
reconciled to me, and kiss me.  A tomb for me do thou hollow, to be the
hiding-place of my love, and if thou departest, cry thrice above me,—

                        _O friend_, _thou liest low_!

And if thou wilt, add this also,—

                      _Alas_, _my true friend is dead_!

‘And this legend do thou write, that I will scratch on thy walls,—

   _This man Love slew_!  _Wayfarer_, _pass not heedless by_,
   _But stand_, _and say_, “_he had a cruel darling_.”’

Therewith he seized a stone, and laid it against the wall, as high as the
middle of the doorposts, a dreadful stone, and from the lintel he
fastened the slender halter, and cast the noose about his neck, and
kicked away the support from under his foot, and there was he hanged

But the beloved opened the door, and saw the dead man hanging there in
the court, unmoved of heart, and tearless for the strange, woful death;
but on the dead man were all the garments of youth defiled.  Then forth
went the beloved to the contests of the wrestlers, and there was
heart-set on the delightful bathing-places, and even thereby encountered
the very God dishonoured, for Love stood on a pedestal of stone above the
waters. {124}  And lo, the statue leaped, and slew that cruel one, and
the water was red with blood, but the voice of the slain kept floating to
the brim.

_Rejoice_, _ye lovers_, _for he that hated is slain_.  _Love_, _all ye
beloved_, _for the God knoweth how to deal righteous judgment_.


_This poem describes the earliest feat of Heracles_, _the slaying of the
snakes sent against him by Hera_, _and gives an account of the hero’s
training_.  _The vivacity and tenderness of the pictures of domestic
life_, _and the minute knowledge of expiatory ceremonies seem to stamp
this idyl as the work of Theocritus_.  _As the following poem also deals
with an adventure of Heracles_, _it seems not impossible that Theocritus
wrote_, _or contemplated writing_, _a Heraclean epic_, _in a series of

                                * * * * *

WHEN Heracles was but ten months old, the lady of Midea, even Alcmena,
took him, on a time, and Iphicles his brother, younger by one night, and
gave them both their bath, and their fill of milk, then laid them down in
the buckler of bronze, that goodly piece whereof Amphitryon had strippen
the fallen Pterelaus.  And then the lady stroked her children’s heads,
and spoke, saying:—

‘Sleep, my little ones, a light delicious sleep; sleep, soul of mine, two
brothers, babes unharmed; blessed be your sleep, and blessed may ye come
to the dawn.’

So speaking she rocked the huge shield, and in a moment sleep laid hold
on them.

But when the _Bear_ at midnight wheels westward over against _Orion_ that
shows his mighty shoulder, even then did crafty Hera send forth two
monstrous things, two snakes bristling up their coils of azure; against
the broad threshold, where are the hollow pillars of the house-door she
urged them; with intent that they should devour the young child Heracles.
Then these twain crawled forth, writhing their ravenous bellies along the
ground, and still from their eyes a baleful fire was shining as they
came, and they spat out their deadly venom.  But when with their
flickering tongues they were drawing near the children, then Alcmena’s
dear babes wakened, by the will of Zeus that knows all things, and there
was a bright light in the chamber.  Then truly one child, even Iphicles,
screamed out straightway, when he beheld the hideous monsters above the
hollow shield, and saw their pitiless fangs, and he kicked off the
woollen coverlet with his feet, in his eagerness to flee.  But Heracles
set his force against them, and grasped them with his hands, binding them
both in a grievous bond, having got them by the throat, wherein lies the
evil venom of baleful snakes, the venom detested even by the gods.  Then
the serpents, in their turn, wound with their coils about the young
child, the child unweaned, that wept never in his nursling days; but
again they relaxed their spines in stress, of pain, and strove to find
some issue from the grasp of iron.

Now Alcmena heard the cry, and wakened first,—

‘Arise, Amphitryon, for numbing fear lays hold of me: arise, nor stay to
put shoon beneath thy feet!  Hearest thou not how loud the younger child
is wailing?  Mark’st thou not that though it is the depth of the night,
the walls are all plain to see as in the clear dawn? {127}  There is some
strange thing I trow within the house, there is, my dearest lord!’

Thus she spake, and at his wife’s bidding he stepped down out of his bed,
and made for his richly dight sword that he kept always hanging on its
pin above his bed of cedar.  Verily he was reaching out for his new-woven
belt, lifting with the other hand the mighty sheath, a work of lotus
wood, when lo, the wide chamber was filled again with night.  Then he
cried aloud on his thralls, who were drawing the deep breath of sleep,—

‘Lights!  Bring lights as quick as may be from the hearth, my thralls,
and thrust back the strong bolts of the doors.  Arise, ye serving-men,
stout of heart, ’tis the master calls.’

Then quick the serving-men came speeding with torches burning, and the
house waxed full as each man hasted along.  Then truly when they saw the
young child Heracles clutching the snakes twain in his tender grasp, they
all cried out and smote their hands together.  But he kept showing the
creeping things to his father, Amphitryon, and leaped on high in his
childish glee, and laughing, at his father’s feet he laid them down, the
dread monsters fallen on the sleep of death.  Then Alcmena in her own
bosom took and laid Iphicles, dry-eyed and wan with fear; {128} but
Amphitryon, placing the other child beneath a lamb’s-wool coverlet,
betook himself again to his bed, and gat him to his rest.

The cocks were now but singing their third welcome to the earliest dawn,
when Alcmena called forth Tiresias, the seer that cannot lie, and told
him of the new portent, and bade him declare what things should come to

‘Nay, and even if the gods devise some mischief, conceal it not from me
in ruth and pity; and how that mortals may not escape the doom that Fate
speeds from her spindle, O soothsayer Euerides, I am teaching thee, that
thyself knowest it right well.’

Thus spake the Queen, and thus he answered her:

‘Be of good cheer, daughter of Perseus, woman that hast borne the noblest
of children [and lay up in thy heart the better of the things that are to
be].  For by the sweet light that long hath left mine eyes, I swear that
many Achaean women, as they card the soft wool about their knees, shall
sing at eventide, of Alcmena’s name, and thou shalt be honourable among
the women of Argos.  Such a man, even this thy son, shall mount to the
starry firmament, the hero broad of breast, the master of all wild
beasts, and of all mankind.  Twelve labours is he fated to accomplish,
and thereafter to dwell in the house of Zeus, but all his mortal part a
Trachinian pyre shall possess.

‘And the son of the Immortals, by virtue of his bride, shall he be
called, even of them that urged forth these snakes from their dens to
destroy the child.  Verily that day shall come when the ravening wolf,
beholding the fawn in his lair, will not seek to work him harm.

‘But lady, see that thou hast fire at hand, beneath the embers, and let
make ready dry fuel of gorse, or thorn, or bramble, or pear boughs dried
with the wind’s buffeting, and on the wild fire burn these serpents
twain, at midnight, even at the hour when they would have slain thy
child.  But at dawn let one of thy maidens gather the dust of the fire,
and bear and cast it all, every grain, over the river from the brow of
the broken cliff, {129} beyond the march of your land, and return again
without looking behind.  Then cleanse your house with the fire of unmixed
sulphur first, and then, as is ordained, with a filleted bough sprinkle
holy water over all, mingled with salt. {130}  And to Zeus supreme,
moreover, do ye sacrifice a young boar, that ye may ever have the mastery
over all your enemies.’

So spake he, and thrust back his ivory chair, and departed, even
Tiresias, despite the weight of all his many years.

But Heracles was reared under his mother’s care, like some young sapling
in a garden close, being called the son of Amphitryon of Argos.  And the
lad was taught his letters by the ancient Linus, Apollo’s son, a tutor
ever watchful.  And to draw the bow, and send the arrow to the mark did
Eurytus teach him, Eurytus rich in wide ancestral lands.  And Eumolpus,
son of Philammon, made the lad a minstrel, and formed his hands to the
boxwood lyre.  And all the tricks wherewith the nimble Argive
cross-buttockers give each other the fall, and all the wiles of boxers
skilled with the gloves, and all the art that the rough and tumble
fighters have sought out to aid their science, all these did Heracles
learn from Harpalacus of Phanes, the son of Hermes.  Him no man that
beheld, even from afar, would have confidently met as a wrestler in the
lists, so grim a brow overhung his dreadful face.  And to drive forth his
horses ’neath the chariot, and safely to guide them round the goals, with
the naves of the wheels unharmed, Amphitryon taught his son in his
loving-kindness, Amphitryon himself, for many a prize had he borne away
from the fleet races in Argos, pasture-land of steeds, and unbroken were
the chariots that he mounted, till time loosened their leathern thongs.

But to charge with spear in rest, against a foe, guarding, meanwhile, his
back with the shield, to bide the biting swords, to order a company, and
to measure, in his onslaught, the ambush of foemen, and to give horsemen
the word of command, he was taught by knightly Castor.  An outlaw came
Castor out of Argos, when Tydeus was holding all the land and all the
wide vineyards, having received Argos, a land of steeds, from the hand of
Adrastus.  No peer in war among the demigods had Castor, till age wore
down his youth.

Thus did his dear mother let train Heracles, and the child’s bed was made
hard by his father’s; a lion’s skin was the coverlet he loved; his dinner
was roast meat, and a great Dorian loaf in a basket, a meal to satisfy a
delving hind.  At the close of day he would take a meagre supper that
needed no fire to the cooking, and his plain kirtle fell no lower than
the middle of his shin.


_This is another idyl of the epic sort_.  _The poet’s interest in the
details of the rural life_, _and in the description of the herds of King
Augeas_, _seem to mark it as the work of Theocritus_.  _It has_,
_however_, _been attributed by learned conjecture to various writers of
an older age_.  _The idyl_, _or fragment_, _is incomplete_.  _Heracles
visits the herds of Augeas_ (_to clean their stalls was one of his
labours_), _and_, _after an encounter with a bull_, _describes to the
king’s son his battle with the lion of Nemea_.

. . . Him answered the old man, a husbandman that had the care of the
tillage, ceasing a moment from the work that lay betwixt his hands—‘Right
readily will I tell thee, stranger, concerning the things whereof thou
inquirest, for I revere the awful wrath of Hermes of the roadside.  Yea
he, they say, is of all the heavenly Gods the most in anger, if any deny
the wayfarer that asks eagerly for the way.

‘The fleecy flocks of the king Augeas feed not all on one pasture, nor in
one place, but some there be that graze by the river-banks round Elisus,
and some by the sacred stream of divine Alpheius, and some by Buprasium
rich in clusters of the vine, and some even in this place.  And behold,
the pens for each herd after its kind are builded apart.  Nay, but for
all the herds of Augeas, overflowing as they be, these pasture lands are
ever fresh and flowering, around the great marsh of Peneus, for with
herbage honey-sweet the dewy water-meadows are ever blossoming
abundantly, and this fodder it is that feeds the strength of horned kine.
And this their steading, on thy right hand stands all plain to view,
beyond the running river, there, where the plane-trees grow luxuriant,
and the green wild olive, a sacred grove, O stranger, of Apollo of the
pastures, a God most gracious unto prayer.  Next thereto are builded long
rows of huts for the country folk, even for us that do zealously guard
the great and marvellous wealth of the king; casting in season the seed
in fallow lands, thrice, ay, and four times broken by the plough.  As for
the marches, truly, the ditchers know them, men of many toils, who throng
to the wine-press at the coming of high summer tide.  For, behold, all
this plain is held by gracious Augeas, and the wheat-bearing plough-land,
and the orchards with their trees, as far as the upland farm of the
ridge, whence the fountains spring; over all which lands we go labouring,
the whole day long, as is the wont of thralls that live their lives among
the fields.

‘But, prithee, tell thou me, in thy turn (and for thine own gain it will
be), whom comest thou hither to seek; in quest, perchance, of Augeas, or
one of his servants?  Of all these things, behold, I have knowledge, and
could tell thee plainly, for methinks that thou, for thy part, comest of
no churlish stock, nay, nor hath thy shape aught of the churl, so
excellent in might shows thy form.  Lo, now, even such are the children
of the immortal Gods among mortal men.’  Then the mighty son of Zeus
answered him, saying—

‘Yea, old man, I fain would see Augeas, prince of the Epeans, for truly
’twas need of him that brought me hither.  If he abides at the town with
his citizens, caring for his people, and settling the pleas, do thou, old
man, bid one of the servants to guide me on the way, a head-man of the
more honourable sort in these fields, to whom I may both tell my desire,
and learn in turn what I would, for God has made all men dependent, each
on each.’

Then the old man, the worthy husbandman, answered him again—

‘By the guidance of some one of the immortals hast thou come hither,
stranger, for verily all that thou requirest hath quickly been fulfilled.
For hither hath come Augeas, the dear son of Helios, with his own son,
the strong and princely Phyleus.  But yesterday he came hither from the
city, to be overseeing after many days his substance, that he hath
uncounted in the fields.  Thus do even kings in their inmost hearts
believe that the eye of the master makes the house more prosperous.  Nay
come, let us hasten to him, and I will lead thee to our dwelling, where
methinks we shall find the king.’

So he spake, and began to lead the way, but in his mind, as he marked the
lion’s hide, and the club that filled the stranger’s fist, the old man
was deeply pondering as to whence he came, and ever he was eager to
inquire of him.  But back again he kept catching the word as it rose to
his lips, in fear lest he should speak somewhat out of season (his
companion being in haste) for hard it is to know another’s mood.

Now as they began to draw nigh, the dogs from afar were instantly aware
of them, both by the scent, and by the sound of footsteps, and, yelling
furiously, they charged from all sides against Heracles, son of
Amphitryon, while with faint yelping, on the other side, they greeted the
old man, and fawned around him.  But he just lifted stones from the
ground, {135} and scared them away, and, raising his voice, he right
roughly chid them all, and made them cease from their yelping, being glad
in his heart withal for that they guarded his dwelling, even when he was
afar.  Then thus he spake—

‘Lo, what a comrade for men have the Gods, the lords of all, made in this
creature, how mindful is he!  If he had but so much wit within him as to
know against whom he should rage, and with whom he should forbear, no
beast in the world could vie with his deserts.  But now he is something
over-fierce and blindly furious.’

So he spake, and they hastened, and came even to that dwelling whither
they were faring.

Now Helios had turned his steeds to the west, bringing the late day, and
the fatted sheep came up from the pastures to the pens and folds.  Next
thereafter the kine approaching, ten thousand upon ten thousand, showed
for multitude even like the watery clouds that roll forward in heaven
under the stress of the South Wind, or the Thracian North (and countless
are they, and ceaseless in their airy passage, for the wind’s might rolls
up the rear as numerous as the van, and hosts upon hosts again are moving
in infinite array), even so many did herds upon herds of kine move ever
forwards.  And, lo, the whole plain was filled, and all the ways, as the
cattle fared onwards, and the rich fields could not contain their lowing,
and the stalls were lightly filled with kine of trailing feet, and the
sheep were being penned in the folds.

There no man, for lack of labour, stood idle by the cattle, though
countless men were there, but one was fastening guards of wood, with
shapely thongs, about the feet of the kine, that he might draw near and
stand by, and milk them.  And another beneath their mothers kind was
placing the calves right eager to drink of the sweet milk.  Yet another
held a milking pail, while his fellow was fixing the rich cheese, and
another led in the bulls apart from the cows.  Meanwhile Augeas was going
round all the stalls, and marking the care his herdsmen bestowed upon all
that was his.  And the king’s son, and the mighty, deep-pondering
Heracles, went along with the king, as he passed through his great
possessions.  Then though he bore a stout spirit in his heart, and a mind
stablished always imperturbable, yet the son of Amphitryon still
marvelled out of measure, as he beheld these countless troops of cattle.
Yea none would have deemed or believed that the substance of one man
could be so vast, nay, nor ten men’s wealth, were they the richest in
sheep of all the kings in the world.  But Helios to his son gave this
gift pre-eminent, namely to abound in flocks far above all other men, and
Helios himself did ever and always give increase to the cattle, for upon
his herds came no disease, of them that always minish the herdman’s toil.
But always more in number waxed the horned kine, and goodlier, year by
year, for verily they all brought forth exceeding abundantly, and never
cast their young, and chiefly bare heifers.

With the kine went continually three hundred bulls, white-shanked, and
curved of horn,—and two hundred others, red cattle,—and all these already
were of an age to mate with the kine.  Other twelve bulls, again, besides
these, went together in a herd, being sacred to Helios.  They were white
as swans, and shone among all the herds of trailing gait.  And these
disdaining the herds grazed still on the rich herbage in the pastures,
and they were exceeding high of heart.  And whensoever the swift wild
beasts came down from the rough oakwood to the plain, to seek the wilder
cattle, afield went these bulls first to the fight, at the smell of the
savour of the beasts, bellowing fearfully, and glancing slaughter from
their brows.

Among these bulls was one pre-eminent for strength and might, and for
reckless pride, even the mighty Phaethon, that all the herdsmen still
likened to a star, because he always shone so bright when he went among
the other cattle, and was right easy to be discerned.  Now when this bull
beheld the dried skin of the fierce-faced lion, he rushed against the
keen-eyed Heracles himself, to dash his head and stalwart front against
the sides of the hero.  Even as he charged, the prince forthwith grasped
him with strong hand by the left horn, and bowed his neck down to the
ground, puissant as he was, and, with the weight of his shoulder, crushed
him backwards, while clear stood out the strained muscle over the sinews
on the hero’s upper arm.  Then marvelled the king himself, and his son,
the warlike Phyleus, and the herdsmen that were set over the horned
kine,—when they beheld the exceeding strength of the son of Amphitryon.

Now these twain, even Phyleus and mighty Heracles, left the fat fields
there, and were making for the city.  But just where they entered on the
highway, after quickly speeding over the narrow path that stretched
through the vineyard from the farmhouses, a dim path through the green
wood, thereby the dear son of Augeas bespake the child of supreme Zeus,
who was behind him, slightly turning his head over his right shoulder,

‘Stranger, long time ago I heard a tale, which, as of late I guess,
surely concerneth thee.  For there came hither, in his wayfaring out of
Argos, a certain young Achaean, from Helicé, by the seashore, who verily
told a tale and that among many Epeians here,—how, even in his presence,
a certain Argive slew a wild beast, a lion dread, a curse of evil omen to
the country folk.  The monster had its hollow lair by the grove of Nemean
Zeus, but as for him that slew it, I know not surely whether he was a man
of sacred Argos, there, or a dweller in Tiryns city, or in Mycenae, as he
that told the tale declared.  By birth, howbeit, he said (if rightly, I
recall it) that the hero was descended from Perseus.  Methinks that none
of the Aegialeis had the hardihood for this deed save thyself; nay, the
hide of the beast that covers thy sides doth clearly proclaim the mighty
deed of thy hands.  But come now, hero, tell thou me first, that truly I
may know, whether my foreboding be right or wrong,—if thou art that man
of whom the Achaean from Helicé spake in our hearing, and if I read thee
aright.  Tell me how single-handed thou didst slay this ruinous pest, and
how it came to the well-watered ground of Nemea, for not in Apis couldst
thou find,—not though thou soughtest after it,—so great a monster.  For
the country feeds no such large game, but bears, and boars, and the
pestilent race of wolves.  Wherefore all were in amaze that listened to
the story, and there were some who said that the traveller was lying, and
pleasing them that stood by with the words of an idle tongue.’

Thus Phyleus spake, and stepped out of the middle of the road, that there
might be space for both to walk abreast, and that so he might hear the
more easily the words of Heracles who now came abreast with him, and
spake thus,

‘O son of Augeas, concerning that whereof thou first didst ask me,
thyself most easily hast discerned it aright.  Nay then, about this
monster I will tell thee all, even how all was done,—since thou art eager
to hear,—save, indeed, as to whence he came, for, many as the Argives be,
not one can tell that clearly.  Only we guess that some one of the
Immortals, in wrath for sacrifice unoffered, sent this bane against the
children of Phoroneus.  For over all the men of Pisa the lion swept, like
a flood, and still ravaged insatiate, and chiefly spoiled the
Bembinaeans, that were his neighbours, and endured things intolerable.

‘Now this labour did Eurystheus enjoin on me to fulfil the first of all,
and bade me slay the dreadful monster.  So I took my supple bow, and
hollow quiver full of arrows, and set forth; and in my other hand I held
my stout club, well balanced, and wrought, with unstripped bark, from a
shady wild olive-tree, that I myself had found, under sacred Helicon, and
dragged up the whole tree, with the bushy roots.  But when I came to the
place whereby the lion abode, even then I grasped my bow and slipped the
string up to the curved tip, and straightway laid thereon the bitter
arrow.  Then I cast my eyes on every side, spying for the baneful
monster, if perchance I might see him, or ever he saw me.  It was now
midday, and nowhere might I discern the tracks of the monster, nor hear
his roaring.  Nay, nor was there one man to be seen with the cattle, and
the tillage through all the furrowed lea, of whom I might inquire, but
wan fear still held them all within the homesteads.  Yet I stayed not in
my going, as I quested through the deep-wooded hill, till I beheld him,
and instantly essayed my prowess.  Now early in the evening he was making
for his lair, full fed with blood and flesh, and all his bristling mane
was dashed with carnage, and his fierce face, and his breast, and still
with his tongue he kept licking his bearded chin.  Then instantly I hid
me in the dark undergrowth, on the wooded hill, awaiting his approach,
and as he came nearer I smote him on the left flank, but all in vain, for
naught did the sharp arrow pierce through his flesh, but leaped back, and
fell on the green grass.  Then quickly he raised his tawny head from the
ground, in amaze, glancing all around with his eyes, and with jaws
distent he showed his ravenous teeth.  Then I launched against him
another shaft from the string, in wrath that the former flew vainly from
my hand, and I smote him right in the middle of the breast, where the
lung is seated, yet not even so did the cruel arrow sink into his hide,
but fell before his feet, in vain, to no avail.  Then for the third time
was I making ready to draw my bow again, in great shame and wrath, but
the furious beast glanced his eyes around, and spied me.  With his long
tail he lashed his flanks, and straightway bethought him of battle.  His
neck was clothed with wrath, and his tawny hair bristled round his
lowering brow, and his spine was curved like a bow, his whole force being
gathered up from under towards his flanks and loins.  And as when a
wainwright, one skilled in many an art, doth bend the saplings of
seasoned fig-tree, having first tempered them in the fire, to make tires
for the axles of his chariot, and even then the fig-tree wood is like to
leap from his hands in the bending, and springs far away at a single
bound, even so the dread lion leaped on me from afar, huddled in a heap,
and keen to glut him with my flesh.  Then with one hand I thrust in front
of me my arrows, and the double folded cloak from my shoulder, and with
the other raised the seasoned club above my head, and drove at his crest,
and even on the shaggy scalp of the insatiate beast brake my grievous
cudgel of wild olive-tree.  Then or ever he reached me, he fell from his
flight, on to the ground, and stood on trembling feet, with wagging head,
for darkness gathered about both his eyes, his brain being shaken in his
skull with the violence of the blow.  Then when I marked how he was
distraught with the grievous torment, or ever he could turn and gain
breath again, I fell on him, and seized him by the column of his stubborn
neck.  To earth I cast my bow, and woven quiver, and strangled him with
all my force, gripping him with stubborn clasp from the rear, lest he
should rend my flesh with his claws, and I sprang on him and kept firmly
treading his hind feet into the soil with my heels, while I used his
sides to guard my thighs, till I had strained his shoulders utterly, then
lifted him up, all breathless,—and Hell took his monstrous life.

‘And then at last I took thought how I should strip the rough hide from
the dead beast’s limbs, a right hard labour, for it might not be cut with
steel, when I tried, nor stone, nor with aught else. {143}  Thereon one
of the Immortals put into my mind the thought to cleave the lion’s hide
with his own claws.  With these I speedily flayed it off, and cast it
about my limbs, for my defence against the brunt of wounding war.

‘Friend, lo even thus befel the slaying of the Nemean Lion, that
aforetime had brought many a bane on flocks and men.’


_This idyl narrates the murder of Pentheus_, _who was torn to pieces_
(_after the Dionysiac Ritual_) _by his mother_, _Agave_, _and other
Theban women_, _for having watched the celebration of the mysteries of
Dionysus_.  _It is still dangerous for an Australian native to approach
the women of the tribe while they are celebrating their savage rites_.
_The conservatism of Greek religion is well illustrated by Theocritus’s
apology for the truly savage revenge commemorated in the old Theban

                                * * * * *

INO, and Autonoe, and Agave of the apple cheeks,—three bands of Maenads
to the mountain-side they led, these ladies three.  They stripped the
wild leaves of a rugged oak, and fresh ivy, and asphodel of the upper
earth, and in an open meadow they built twelve altars; for Semele three,
and nine for Dionysus.  The mystic cakes {144} from the mystic chest they
had taken in their hands, and in silence had laid them on the altars of
new-stripped boughs; so Dionysus ever taught the rite, and herewith was
he wont to be well pleased.

Now Pentheus from a lofty cliff was watching all, deep hidden in an
ancient lentisk hush, a plant of that land.  Autonoe first beheld him,
and shrieked a dreadful yell, and, rushing suddenly, with her feet dashed
all confused the mystic things of Bacchus the wild.  For these are things
unbeholden of men profane.  Frenzied was she, and then forthwith the
others too were frenzied.  Then Pentheus fled in fear, and they pursued
after him, with raiment kirtled through the belt above the knee.

This much said Pentheus, ‘Women, what would ye?’ and thus answered
Autonoe, ‘That shalt thou straightway know, ere thou hast heard it.’

The mother seized her child’s head, and cried loud, as is the cry of a
lioness over her cubs, while Ino, for her part, set her heel on the body,
and brake asunder the broad shoulder, shoulder-blade and all, and in the
same strain wrought Autonoe.  The other women tore the remnants
piecemeal, and to Thebes they came, all bedabbled with blood, from the
mountains bearing not Pentheus but repentance. {145}

I care for none of these things, nay, nor let another take thought to
make himself the foe of Dionysus, not though one should suffer yet
greater torments than these,—being but a child of nine years old or
entering, perchance, on his tenth year.  For me, may I be pure and holy,
and find favour in the eyes of the pure!

From aegis-bearing Zeus hath this augury all honour, ‘to the children of
the godly the better fortune, but evil befall the offspring of the

‘Hail to Dionysus, whom Zeus supreme brought forth in snowy Dracanus,
when he had unburdened his mighty thigh, and hail to beautiful Semele:
and to her sisters,—Cadmeian ladies honoured of all daughters of
heroes,—who did this deed at the behest of Dionysus, a deed not to be
blamed; let no man blame the actions of the gods.’


_The authenticity of this idyl has been denied_, _partly because the
Daphnis of the poem is not identical in character with the Daphnis of the
first idyl_.  _But the piece is certainly worthy of a place beside the
work of Theocritus_.  _The dialogue is here arranged as in the text of

                                * * * * *

_The Maiden_.  Helen the wise did Paris, another neatherd, ravish!

_Daphnis_.  ’Tis rather this Helen that kisses her shepherd, even me!

_The Maiden_.  Boast not, little satyr, for kisses they call an empty

_Daphnis_.  Nay, even in empty kisses there is a sweet delight.

_The Maiden_.  I wash my lips, I blow away from me thy kisses!

_Daphnis_.  Dost thou wash thy lips?  Then give me them again to kiss!

_The Maiden_.  ’Tis for thee to caress thy kine, not a maiden unwed.

_Daphnis_.  Boast not, for swiftly thy youth flits by thee, like a dream.

_The Maiden_.  The grapes turn to raisins, not wholly will the dry rose

_Daphnis_.  Come hither, beneath the wild olives, that I may tell thee a

_The Maiden_.  I will not come; ay, ere now with a sweet tale didst thou
beguile me.

_Daphnis_.  Come hither, beneath the elms, to listen to my pipe!

_The Maiden_.  Nay, please thyself, no woful tune delights me.

_Daphnis_.  Ah maiden, see that thou too shun the anger of the Paphian.

_The Maiden_.  Good-bye to the Paphian, let Artemis only be friendly!

_Daphnis_.  Say not so, lest she smite thee, and thou fall into a trap
whence there is no escape.

_The Maiden_.  Let her smite an she will; Artemis again would be my
defender.  Lay no hand on me; nay, if thou do more, and touch me with thy
lips, I will bite thee. {148}

_Daphnis_.  From Love thou dost not flee, whom never yet maiden fled.

_The Maiden_.  Escape him, by Pan, I do, but thou dost ever bear his

_Daphnis_.  This is ever my fear lest he even give thee to a meaner man.

_The Maiden_.  Many have been my wooers, but none has won my heart.

_Daphnis_.  Yea I, out of many chosen, come here thy wooer.

_The Maiden_.  Dear love, what can I do?  Marriage has much annoy.

_Daphnis_.  Nor pain nor sorrow has marriage, but mirth and dancing.

_The Maiden_.  Ay, but they say that women dread their lords.

_Daphnis_.  Nay, rather they always rule them,—whom do women fear?

_The Maiden_.  Travail I dread, and sharp is the shaft of Eilithyia.

_Daphnis_.  But thy queen is Artemis, that lightens labour.

_The Maiden_.  But I fear childbirth, lest, perchance, I lose my beauty.

_Daphnis_.  Nay, if thou bearest dear children thou wilt see the light
revive in thy sons.

_The Maiden_.  And what wedding gift dost thou bring me if I consent?

_Daphnis_.  My whole flock, all my groves, and all my pasture land shall
be thine.

_The Maiden_.  Swear that thou wilt not win me, and then depart and leave
me forlorn.

_Daphnis_.  So help me Pan I would not leave thee, didst thou even choose
to banish me!

_The Maiden_.  Dost thou build me bowers, and a house, and folds for

_Daphnis_.  Yea, bowers I build thee, the flocks I tend are fair.

_The Maiden_.  But to my grey old father, what tale, ah what, shall I

_Daphnis_.  He will approve thy wedlock when he has heard my name.

_The Maiden_.  Prithee, tell me that name of thine; in a name there is
often delight.

_Daphnis_.  Daphnis am I, Lycidas is my father, and Nomaea is my mother.

_The Maiden_.  Thou comest of men well-born, but there I am thy match.

_Daphnis_.  I know it, thou art of high degree, for thy father is
Menalcas. {150a}

_The Maiden_.  Show me thy grove, wherein is thy cattle-stall.

_Daphnis_.  See here, how they bloom, my slender cypress-trees.

_The Maiden_.  Graze on, my goats, I go to learn the herdsman’s labours.

_Daphnis_.  Feed fair, my bulls, while I show my woodlands to my lady!

_The Maiden_.  What dost thou, little satyr; why dost thou touch my

_Daphnis_.  I will show thee that these earliset apples are ripe. {150b}

_The Maiden_.  By Pan, I swoon; away, take back thy hand.

_Daphnis_.  Courage, dear girl, why fearest thou me, thou art over

_The Maiden_.  Thou makest me lie down by the water-course, defiling my
fair raiment!

_Daphnis_.  Nay, see, ’neath thy raiment fair I am throwing this soft

_The Maiden_.  Ah, ah, thou hast snatched my girdle too; why hast thou
loosed my girdle?

_Daphnis_.  These first-fruits I offer, a gift to the Paphian.

_The Maiden_.  Stay, wretch, hark; surely a stranger cometh; nay, I hear
a sound.

_Daphnis_.  The cypresses do but whisper to each other of thy wedding.

_The Maiden_.  Thou hast torn my mantle, and unclad am I.

_Daphnis_.  Another mantle I will give thee, and an ampler far than

_The Maiden_.  Thou dost promise all things, but soon thou wilt not give
me even a grain of salt.

_Daphnis_.  Ah, would that I could give thee my very life.

_The Maiden_.  Artemis, be not wrathful, thy votary breaks her vow.

_Daphnis_.  I will slay a calf for Love, and for Aphrodite herself a

_The Maiden_.  A maiden I came hither, a woman shall I go homeward.

_Daphnis_.  Nay, a wife and a mother of children shalt thou be, no more a

So, each to each, in the joy of their young fresh limbs they were
murmuring: it was the hour of secret love.  Then she arose, and stole to
herd her sheep; with shamefast eyes she went, but her heart was comforted
within her.  And he went to his herds of kine, rejoicing in his wedlock.


_This little piece of Aeolic verse accompanied the present of a distaff
which Theocritus brought from Syracuse to Theugenis_, _the wife of his
friend Nicias_, _the physician of Miletus_.  _On the margin of a
translation by Longepierre_ (_the famous book-collector_), _Louis XIV
wrote that this idyl is a model of honourable gallantry_.

                                * * * * *

O DISTAFF, thou friend of them that spin, gift of grey-eyed Athene to
dames whose hearts are set on housewifery; come, boldly come with me to
the bright city of Neleus, where the shrine of the Cyprian is green
’neath its roof of delicate rushes.  Thither I pray that we may win fair
voyage and favourable breeze from Zeus, that so I may gladden mine eyes
with the sight of Nicias my friend, and be greeted of him in turn;—a
sacred scion is he of the sweet-voiced Graces.  And thee, distaff, thou
child of fair carven ivory, I will give into the hands of the wife of
Nicias: with her shalt thou fashion many a thing, garments for men, and
much rippling raiment that women wear.  For the mothers of lambs in the
meadows might twice be shorn of their wool in the year, with her
goodwill, the dainty-ankled Theugenis, so notable is she, and cares for
all things that wise matrons love.

Nay, not to houses slatternly or idle would I have given thee, distaff,
seeing that thou art a countryman of mine.  For that is thy native city
which Archias out of Ephyre founded, long ago, the very marrow of the
isle of the three capes, a town of honourable men. {153}  But now shalt
thou abide in the house of a wise physician, who has learned all the
spells that ward off sore maladies from men, and thou shalt dwell in glad
Miletus with the Ionian people, to this end,—that of all the townsfolk
Theugenis may have the goodliest distaff and that thou mayst keep her
ever mindful of her friend, the lover of song.

This proverb will each man utter that looks on thee, ‘Surely great grace
goes with a little gift, and all the offerings of friends are precious.’


_This poem_, _like the preceding one_, _is written in the Aeolic
dialect_.  _The first line is quoted from Alcaeus_.  _The idyl is
attributed to Theocritus on the evidence of the scholiast on the
Symposium of Plato_.

                                * * * * *

‘WINE and truth,’ dear child, says the proverb, and in wine are we, and
the truth we must tell.  Yes, I will say to thee all that lies in my
soul’s inmost chamber.  Thou dost not care to love me with thy whole
heart!  I know, for I live half my life in the sight of thy beauty, but
all the rest is ruined.  When thou art kind, my day is like the days of
the Blessed, but when thou art unkind, ’tis deep in darkness.  How can it
be right thus to torment thy friend?  Nay, if thou wilt listen at all,
child, to me, that am thine elder, happier thereby wilt thou be, and some
day thou wilt thank me.  Build one nest in one tree, where no fierce
snake can come; for now thou dost perch on one branch to-day, and on
another to-morrow, always seeking what is new.  And if a stranger see and
praise thy pretty face, instantly to him thou art more than a friend of
three years’ standing, while him that loved thee first thou holdest no
higher than a friend of three days.  Thou savourest, methinks, of the
love of some great one; nay, choose rather all thy life ever to keep the
love of one that is thy peer.  If this thou dost thou wilt be well spoken
of by thy townsmen, and Love will never be hard to thee, Love that
lightly vanquishes the minds of men, and has wrought to tenderness my
heart that was of steel.  Nay, by thy delicate mouth I approach and
beseech thee, remember that thou wert younger yesteryear, and that we wax
grey and wrinkled, or ever we can avert it; and none may recapture his
youth again, for the shoulders of youth are winged, and we are all too
slow to catch such flying pinions.

Mindful of this thou shouldst be gentler, and love me without guile as I
love thee, so that, when thou hast a manly beard, we may be such friends
as were Achilles and Patroclus!

But, if thou dost cast all I say to the winds to waft afar, and cry, in
anger, ‘Why, why, dost thou torment me?’ then I,—that now for thy sake
would go to fetch the golden apples, or to bring thee Cerberus, the
watcher of the dead,—would not go forth, didst thou stand at the
court-doors and call me.  I should have rest from my cruel love.


_Athenaeus_ (_vii._ 284 _A_) _quotes this fragment_, _which probably was
part of a panegyric on Berenice_, _the mother of Ptolemy Philadelphus_.

                                * * * * *

AND if any man that hath his livelihood from the salt sea, and whose nets
serve him for ploughs, prays for wealth, and luck in fishing, let him
sacrifice, at midnight, to this goddess, the sacred fish that they call
‘silver white,’ for that it is brightest of sheen of all,—then let the
fisher set his nets, and he shall draw them full from the sea.


_This idyl is usually printed with the poems of Theocritus_, _but almost
certainly is by another hand_.  _I have therefore ventured to imitate the
metre of the original_.

                                * * * * *

   WHEN Cypris saw Adonis,
   In death already lying
   With all his locks dishevelled,
   And cheeks turned wan and ghastly,
   She bade the Loves attendant
   To bring the boar before her.

   And lo, the winged ones, fleetly
   They scoured through all the wild wood;
   The wretched boar they tracked him,
   And bound and doubly bound him.
   One fixed on him a halter,
   And dragged him on, a captive,
   Another drave him onward,
   And smote him with his arrows.
   But terror-struck the beast came,
   For much he feared Cythere.
   To him spake Aphrodite,—
   ‘Of wild beasts all the vilest,
   This thigh, by thee was ’t wounded?
   Was ’t thou that smote my lover?’
   To her the beast made answer—
   ‘I swear to thee, Cythere,
   By thee, and by thy lover,
   Yea, and by these my fetters,
   And them that do pursue me,—
   Thy lord, thy lovely lover
   I never willed to wound him;
   I saw him, like a statue,
   And could not bide the burning,
   Nay, for his thigh was naked,
   And mad was I to kiss it,
   And thus my tusk it harmed him.
   Take these my tusks, O Cypris,
   And break them, and chastise them,
   For wherefore should I wear them,
   These passionate defences?
   If this doth not suffice thee,
   Then cut my lips out also,
   Why dared they try to kiss him?’

   Then Cypris had compassion;
   She bade the Loves attendant
   To loose the bonds that bound him.
   From that day her he follows,
   And flees not to the wild wood
   But joins the Loves, and always
   He bears Love’s flame unflinching.


_The Epigrams of Theocritus are_, _for the most part_, _either
inscriptions for tombs or cenotaphs_, _or for the pedestals of statues_,
_or_ (_as the third epigram_) _are short occasional pieces_.  _Several of
them are but doubtfully ascribed to the poet of the Idyls_.  _The Greek
has little but brevity in common with the modern epigram_.

_For a rustic Altar_.

THESE dew-drenched roses and that tufted thyme are offered to the ladies
of Helicon.  And the dark-leaved laurels are thine, O Pythian Paean,
since the rock of Delphi bare this leafage to thine honour.  The altar
this white-horned goat shall stain with blood, this goat that browses on
the tips of the terebinth boughs.

_For a Herdsman’s Offering_.

DAPHNIS, the white-limbed Daphnis, that pipes on his fair flute the
pastoral strains offered to Pan these gifts,—his pierced reed-pipes, his
crook, a javelin keen, a fawn-skin, and the scrip wherein he was wont, on
a time, to carry the apples of Love.

_For a Picture_.

THOU sleepest on the leaf-strewn ground, O Daphnis, resting thy weary
limbs, and the stakes of thy nets are newly fastened on the hills.  But
Pan is on thy track, and Priapus, with the golden ivy wreath twined round
his winsome head,—both are leaping at one bound into thy cavern.  Nay,
flee them, flee, shake off thy slumber, shake off the heavy sleep that is
falling upon thee.


WHEN thou hast turned yonder lane, goatherd, where the oak-trees are,
thou wilt find an image of fig-tree wood, newly carven; three-legged it
is, the bark still covers it, and it is earless withal, yet meet for the
arts of Cypris.  A right holy precinct runs round it, and a ceaseless
stream that falleth from the rocks on every side is green with laurels,
and myrtles, and fragrant cypress.  And all around the place that child
of the grape, the vine, doth flourish with its tendrils, and the merles
in spring with their sweet songs utter their wood-notes wild, and the
brown nightingales reply with their complaints, pouring from their bills
the honey-sweet song.  There, prithee, sit down and pray to gracious
Priapus, that I may be delivered from my love of Daphnis, and say that
instantly thereon I will sacrifice a fair kid.  But if he refuse, ah
then, should I win Daphnis’s love, I would fain sacrifice three
victims,—and offer a calf, a shaggy he-goat, and a lamb that I keep in
the stall, and oh that graciously the god may hear my prayer.

_The rural Concert_.

AH, in the Muses’ name, wilt thou play me some sweet air on the double
flute, and I will take up the harp, and touch a note, and the neatherd
Daphnis will charm us the while, breathing music into his wax-bound pipe.
And beside this rugged oak behind the cave will we stand, and rob the
goat-foot Pan of his repose.

_The Dead are beyond hope_.

AH hapless Thyrsis, where is thy gain, shouldst thou lament till thy two
eyes are consumed with tears?  She has passed away,—the kid, the
youngling beautiful,—she has passed away to Hades.  Yea, the jaws of the
fierce wolf have closed on her, and now the hounds are baying, but what
avail they when nor bone nor cinder is left of her that is departed?

_For a statue of Asclepius_.

EVEN to Miletus he hath come, the son of Paeon, to dwell with one that is
a healer of all sickness, with Nicias, who even approaches him day by day
with sacrifices, and hath let carve this statue out of fragrant
cedar-wood; and to Eetion he promised a high guerdon for his skill of
hand: on this work Eetion has put forth all his craft.

_Orthon’s Grave_.

STRANGER, the Syracusan Orthon lays this behest on thee; go never abroad
in thy cups on a night of storm.  For thus did I come by my end, and far
from my rich fatherland I lie, clothed on with alien soil.

_The Death of Cleonicus_.

MAN, husband thy life, nor go voyaging out of season, for brief are the
days of men!  Unhappy Cleonicus, thou wert eager to win rich Thasus, from
Coelo-Syria sailing with thy merchandise,—with thy merchandise, O
Cleonicus, at the setting of the Pleiades didst thou cross the sea,—and
didst sink with the sinking Pleiades!

_A Group of the Muses_.

FOR your delight, all ye Goddesses Nine, did Xenocles offer this statue
of marble, Xenocles that hath music in his soul, as none will deny.  And
inasmuch as for his skill in this art he wins renown, he forgets not to
give their due to the Muses.

_The Grave of Eusthenes_.

THIS is the memorial stone of Eusthenes, the sage; a physiognomist was
he, and skilled to read the very spirit in the eyes.  Nobly have his
friends buried him—a stranger in a strange land—and most dear was he,
yea, to the makers of song.  All his dues in death has the sage, and,
though he was no great one, ’tis plain he had friends to care for him.

_The Offering of Demoteles_.

’TWAS Demoteles the choregus, O Dionysus, who dedicated this tripod, and
this statue of thee, the dearest of the blessed gods.  No great fame he
won when he gave a chorus of boys, but with a chorus of men he bore off
the victory, for he knew what was fair and what was seemly.

_For a statue of Aphrodite_.

THIS is Cypris,—not she of the people; nay, venerate the goddess by her
name—the Heavenly Aphrodite.  The statue is the offering of chaste
Chrysogone, even in the house of Amphicles, whose children and whose life
were hers!  And always year by year went well with them, who began each
year with thy worship, Lady, for mortals who care for the Immortals have
themselves thereby the better fortune.

_The Grave of Euryrnedon_.

AN infant son didst thou leave behind, and in the flower of thine own age
didst die, Eurymedon, and win this tomb.  For thee a throne is set among
men made perfect, but thy son the citizens will hold in honour,
remembering the excellence of his father.

_The Grave of Eurymedon_.

WAYFARER, I shall know whether thou dost reverence the good, or whether
the coward is held by thee in the same esteem.  ‘Hail to this tomb,’ thou
wilt say, for light it lies above the holy head of Eurymedon.

_For a statue of Anacreon_.

MARK well this statue, stranger, and say, when thou hast returned to thy
home, ‘In Teos I beheld the statue of Anacreon, who surely excelled all
the singers of times past.’  And if thou dost add that he delighted in
the young, thou wilt truly paint all the man.

_For a statue of Epicharmus_.

DORIAN is the strain, and Dorian the man we sing; he that first devised
Comedy, even Epicharmus.  O Bacchus, here in bronze (as the man is now no
more) they have erected his statue, the colonists {165} that dwell in
Syracuse, to the honour of one that was their fellow-citizen.  Yea, for a
gift he gave, wherefore we should be mindful thereof and pay him what
wage we may, for many maxims he spoke that were serviceable to the life
of all men.  Great thanks be his.

_The Grave of Cleita_.

THE little Medeus has raised this tomb by the wayside to the memory of
his Thracian nurse, and has added the inscription—

                              HERE LIES CLEITA.

THE woman will have this recompense for all her careful nurture of the
boy,—and why?—because she was serviceable even to the end.

_The statue of Archilochus_.

STAY, and behold Archilochus, him of old time, the maker of iambics,
whose myriad fame has passed westward, alike, and towards the dawning
day.  Surely the Muses loved him, yea, and the Delian Apollo, so
practised and so skilled he grew in forging song, and chanting to the

_The statue of Pisander_.

THIS man, behold, Pisander of Corinth, of all the ancient makers was the
first who wrote of the son of Zeus, the lion-slayer, the ready of hand,
and spake of all the adventures that with toil he achieved.  Know this
therefore, that the people set him here, a statue of bronze, when many
months had gone by and many years.

_The Grave of Hipponax_.

HERE lies the poet Hipponax!  If thou art a sinner draw not near this
tomb, but if thou art a true man, and the son of righteous sires, sit
boldly down here, yea, and sleep if thou wilt.

_For the Bank of Caicus_.

TO citizens and strangers alike this counter deals justice.  If thou hast
deposited aught, draw out thy money when the balance-sheet is cast up.
Let others make false excuse, but Caicus tells back money lent, ay, even
if one wish it after nightfall.

_On his own Poems_. {167}

THE Chian is another man, but I, Theocritus, who wrote these songs, am a
Syracusan, a man of the people, being the son of Praxagoras and renowned
Philinna.  Never laid I claim to any Muse but mine own.


    Πίδακος έξ ίερης ολίγη λιβας ακρον αωτον.—_Callimachus_.

BION was born at Smyrna, one of the towns which claimed the honour of
being Homer’s birthplace.  On the evidence of a detached verse (94) of
the dirge by Moschus, some have thought that Theocritus survived Bion.
In that case Theocritus must have been a preternaturally aged man.  The
same dirge tells us that Bion was poisoned by certain enemies, and that
while he left to others his wealth, to Moschus he left his minstrelsy.


_This poem was probably intended to be sung at one of the spring
celebrations of the festival of Adonis_, _like that described by
Theocritus in his fifteenth idyl_.

                                * * * * *

WOE, woe for Adonis, he hath perished, the beauteous Adonis, dead is the
beauteous Adonis, the Loves join in the lament.  No more in thy purple
raiment, Cypris, do thou sleep; arise, thou wretched one, sable-stoled,
and beat thy breasts, and say to all, ‘He hath perished, the lovely

_Woe_, _woe for Adonis_, _the Loves join in the lament_!

Low on the hills is lying the lovely Adonis, and his thigh with the
boar’s tusk, his white thigh with the boar’s tusk is wounded, and sorrow
on Cypris he brings, as softly he breathes his life away.

His dark blood drips down his skin of snow, beneath his brows his eyes
wax heavy and dim, and the rose flees from his lip, and thereon the very
kiss is dying, the kiss that Cypris will never forego.

To Cypris his kiss is dear, though he lives no longer, but Adonis knew
not that she kissed him as he died.

_Woe_, _woe for Adonis_, _the Loves join in the lament_!

A cruel, cruel wound on his thigh hath Adonis, but a deeper wound in her
heart doth Cytherea bear.  About him his dear hounds are loudly baying,
and the nymphs of the wild wood wail him; but Aphrodite with unbound
locks through the glades goes wandering,—wretched, with hair unbraided,
with feet unsandaled, and the thorns as she passes wound her and pluck
the blossom of her sacred blood.  Shrill she wails as down the long
woodlands she is borne, lamenting her Assyrian lord, and again calling
him, and again.  But round his navel the dark blood leapt forth, with
blood from his thighs his chest was scarlet, and beneath Adonis’s breast,
the spaces that afore were snow-white, were purple with blood.

_Woe_, _woe for Cytherea_, _the Loves join in the lament_!

She hath lost her lovely lord, with him she hath lost her sacred beauty.
Fair was the form of Cypris, while Adonis was living, but her beauty has
died with Adonis!  _Woe_, _woe for Cypris_, the mountains all are saying,
and the oak-trees answer, _Woe for Adonis_.  And the rivers bewail the
sorrows of Aphrodite, and the wells are weeping Adonis on the mountains.
The flowers flush red for anguish, and Cytherea through all the
mountain-knees, through every dell doth shrill the piteous dirge.

_Woe_, _woe for Cytherea_, _he hath perished_, _the lovely Adonis_!

And Echo cried in answer, _He hath perished_, _the lovely Adonis_.  Nay,
who but would have lamented the grievous love of Cypris?  When she saw,
when she marked the unstaunched wound of Adonis, when she saw the bright
red blood about his languid thigh, she cast her arms abroad and moaned,
‘Abide with me, Adonis, hapless Adonis abide, that this last time of all
I may possess thee, that I may cast myself about thee, and lips with lips
may mingle.  Awake Adonis, for a little while, and kiss me yet again, the
latest kiss!  Nay kiss me but a moment, but the lifetime of a kiss, till
from thine inmost soul into my lips, into my heart, thy life-breath ebb,
and till I drain thy sweet love-philtre, and drink down all thy love.
This kiss will I treasure, even as thyself; Adonis, since, ah ill-fated,
thou art fleeing me, thou art fleeing far, Adonis, and art faring to
Acheron, to that hateful king and cruel, while wretched I yet live, being
a goddess, and may not follow thee!  Persephone, take thou my lover, my
lord, for thy self art stronger than I, and all lovely things drift down
to thee.  But I am all ill-fated, inconsolable is my anguish, and I
lament mine Adonis, dead to me, and I have no rest for sorrow.

‘Thou diest, O thrice-desired, and my desire hath flown away as a dream.
Nay, widowed is Cytherea, and idle are the Loves along the halls!  With
thee has the girdle of my beauty perished.  For why, ah overbold, didst
thou follow the chase, and being so fair, why wert thou thus overhardy to
fight with beasts?’

So Cypris bewailed her, the Loves join in the lament:

_Woe_, _woe for Cytherea_, _he hath perished the lovely Adonis_!

A tear the Paphian sheds for each blood-drop of Adonis, and tears and
blood on the earth are turned to flowers.  The blood brings forth the
rose, the tears, the wind-flower.

_Woe_, _woe for Adonis_, _he hath perished_; _the lovely Adonis_!

No more in the oak-woods, Cypris, lament thy lord.  It is no fair couch
for Adonis, the lonely bed of leaves!  Thine own bed, Cytherea, let him
now possess,—the dead Adonis.  Ah, even in death he is beautiful,
beautiful in death, as one that hath fallen on sleep.  Now lay him down
to sleep in his own soft coverlets, wherein with thee through the night
he shared the holy slumber in a couch all of gold, that yearns for
Adonis, though sad is he to look upon.  Cast on him garlands and
blossoms: all things have perished in his death, yea all the flowers are
faded.  Sprinkle him with ointments of Syria, sprinkle him with unguents
of myrrh.  Nay, perish all perfumes, for Adonis, who was thy perfume,
hath perished.

He reclines, the delicate Adonis, in his raiment of purple, and around
him the Loves are weeping, and groaning aloud, clipping their locks for
Adonis.  And one upon his shafts, another on his bow is treading, and one
hath loosed the sandal of Adonis, and another hath broken his own
feathered quiver, and one in a golden vessel bears water, and another
laves the wound, and another from behind him with his wings is fanning

_Woe_, _woe for Cytherea_, _the Loves join in the lament_!

Every torch on the lintels of the door has Hymenaeus quenched, and hath
torn to shreds the bridal crown, and _Hymen_ no more, _Hymen_ no more is
the song, but a new song is sung of wailing.

‘_Woe_, _woe for Adonis_,’ rather than the nuptial song the Graces are
shrilling, lamenting the son of Cinyras, and one to the other declaring,
_He hath perished_, _the lovely Adonis_.

And _woe_, _woe for Adonis_, shrilly cry the Muses, neglecting Paeon, and
they lament Adonis aloud, and songs they chant to him, but he does not
heed them, not that he is loth to hear, but that the Maiden of Hades doth
not let him go.

Cease, Cytherea, from thy lamentations, to-day refrain from thy dirges.
Thou must again bewail him, again must weep for him another year.


_Lycidas sings to Myrson a fragment about the loves of Achilles and

                                * * * * *

_Myrson_.  Wilt thou be pleased now, Lycidas, to sing me sweetly some
sweet Sicilian song, some wistful strain delectable, some lay of love,
such as the Cyclops Polyphemus sang on the sea-banks to Galatea?

_Lycidas_.  Yes, Myrson, and I too fain would pipe, but what shall I

_Myrson_.  A song of Scyra, Lycidas, is my desire,—a sweet
love-story,—the stolen kisses of the son of Peleus, the stolen bed of
love how he, that was a boy, did on the weeds of women, and how he belied
his form, and how among the heedless daughters of Lycomedes, Deidamia
cherished Achilles in her bower. {176}

_Lycidas_.  The herdsman bore off Helen, upon a time, and carried her to
Ida, sore sorrow to Œnone.  And Lacedaemon waxed wroth, and gathered
together all the Achaean folk; there was never a Hellene, not one of the
Mycenaeans, nor any man of Elis, nor of the Laconians, that tarried in
his house, and shunned the cruel Ares.

But Achilles alone lay hid among the daughters of Lycomedes, and was
trained to work in wools, in place of arms, and in his white hand held
the bough of maidenhood, in semblance a maiden.  For he put on women’s
ways, like them, and a bloom like theirs blushed on his cheek of snow,
and he walked with maiden gait, and covered his locks with the snood.
But the heart of a man had he, and the love of a man.  From dawn to dark
he would sit by Deidamia, and anon would kiss her hand, and oft would
lift the beautiful warp of her loom and praise the sweet threads, having
no such joy in any other girl of her company.  Yea, all things he
essayed, and all for one end, that they twain might share an undivided

Now he once even spake to her, saying—

‘With one another other sisters sleep, but I lie alone, and alone,
maiden, dost thou lie, both being girls unwedded of like age, both fair,
and single both in bed do we sleep.  The wicked Nysa, the crafty nurse it
is that cruelly severs me from thee.  For not of thee have I . . . ’


_Cleodamus and Myrson discuss the charms of the seasons_, _and give the
palm to a southern spring_.

                                * * * * *

_Cleodamus_.  Which is sweetest, to thee, Myrson, spring, or winter or
the late autumn or the summer; of which dost thou most desire the coming?
Summer, when all are ended, the toils whereat we labour, or the sweet
autumn, when hunger weighs lightest on men, or even idle winter, for even
in winter many sit warm by the fire, and are lulled in rest and
indolence.  Or has beautiful spring more delight for thee?  Say, which
does thy heart choose?  For our leisure lends us time to gossip.

_Myrson_.  It beseems not mortals to judge the works of God; for sacred
are all these things, and all are sweet, yet for thy sake I will speak
out, Cleodamus, and declare what is sweeter to me than the rest.  I would
not have summer here, for then the sun doth scorch me, and autumn I would
not choose, for the ripe fruits breed disease.  The ruinous winter,
bearing snow and frost, I dread.  But spring, the thrice desirable, be
with me the whole year through, when there is neither frost, nor is the
sun so heavy upon us.  In springtime all is fruitful, all sweet things
blossom in spring, and night and dawn are evenly meted to men.


A fowler, while yet a boy, was hunting birds in a woodland glade, and
there he saw the winged Love, perched on a box-tree bough.  And when he
beheld him, he rejoiced, so big the bird seemed to him, and he put
together all his rods at once, and lay in wait for Love, that kept
hopping, now here, now there.  And the boy, being angered that his toil
was endless, cast down his fowling gear, and went to the old husbandman,
that had taught him his art, and told him all, and showed him Love on his
perch.  But the old man, smiling, shook his head, and answered the lad,
‘Pursue this chase no longer, and go not after this bird.  Nay, flee far
from him.  ’Tis an evil creature.  Thou wilt be happy, so long as thou
dost not catch him, but if thou comest to the measure of manhood, this
bird that flees thee now, and hops away, will come uncalled, and of a
sudden, and settle on thy head.’


Great Cypris stood beside me, while still I slumbered, and with her
beautiful hand she led the child Love, whose head was earthward bowed.
This word she spake to me, ‘Dear herdsman, prithee, take Love, and teach
him to sing.’  So said she, and departed, and I—my store of pastoral song
I taught to Love, in my innocence, as if he had been fain to learn.  I
taught him how the cross-flute was invented by Pan, and the flute by
Athene, and by Hermes the tortoise-shell lyre, and the harp by sweet
Apollo.  All these things I taught him as best I might; but he, not
heeding my words, himself would sing me ditties of love, and taught me
the desires of mortals and immortals, and all the deeds of his mother.
And I clean forgot the lore I was teaching to Love, but what Love taught
me, and his love ditties, I learned them all.


The Muses do not fear the wild Love, but heartily they cherish, and
fleetly follow him.  Yea, and if any man sing that hath a loveless heart,
him do they flee, and do not choose to teach him.  But if the mind of any
be swayed by Love, and sweetly he sings, to him the Muses all run
eagerly.  A witness hereto am I, that this saying is wholly true, for if
I sing of any other, mortal or immortal, then falters my tongue, and
sings no longer as of old, but if again to Love, and Lycidas I sing, then
gladly from my lips flows forth the voice of song.



I know not the way, nor is it fitting to labour at what we have not


If my ditties be fair, lo these alone will win me glory, these that the
Muse aforetime gave to me.  And if these be not sweet, what gain is it to
me to labour longer?


Ah, if a double term of life were given us by Zeus, the son of Cronos, or
by changeful Fate, ah, could we spend one life in joy and merriment, and
one in labour, then perchance a man might toil, and in some later time
might win his reward.  But if the gods have willed that man enters into
life but once (and that life brief, and too short to hold all we desire),
then, wretched men and weary that we are, how sorely we toil, how greatly
we cast our souls away on gain, and laborious arts, continually coveting
yet more wealth!  Surely we have all forgotten that we are men condemned
to die, and how short in the hour, that to us is allotted by Fate. {181}


Happy are they that love, when with equal love they are rewarded.  Happy
was Theseus, when Pirithous was by his side, yea, though he went down to
the house of implacable Hades.  Happy among hard men and inhospitable was
Orestes, for that Pylades chose to share his wanderings.  And _he_ was
happy, Achilles Æacides, while his darling lived,—happy was he in his
death, because he avenged the dread fate of Patroclus.


Hesperus, golden lamp of the lovely daughter of the foam, dear Hesperus,
sacred jewel of the deep blue night, dimmer as much than the moon, as
thou art among the stars pre-eminent, hail, friend, and as I lead the
revel to the shepherd’s hut, in place of the moonlight lend me thine, for
to-day the moon began her course, and too early she sank.  I go not
free-booting, nor to lie in wait for the benighted traveller, but a lover
am I, and ’tis well to favour lovers.


Mild goddess, in Cyprus born,—thou child, not of the sea, but of
Zeus,—why art thou thus vexed with mortals and immortals?  Nay, my word
is too weak, why wert thou thus bitterly wroth, yea, even with thyself,
as to bring forth Love, so mighty a bane to all,—cruel and heartless
Love, whose spirit is all unlike his beauty?  And wherefore didst thou
furnish him with wings, and give him skill to shoot so far, that, child
as he is, we never may escape the bitterness of Love.


Mute was Phoebus in this grievous anguish.  All herbs he sought, and
strove to win some wise healing art, and he anointed all the wound with
nectar and ambrosia, but remedeless are all the wounds of Fate.


But I will go my way to yon sloping hill; by the sand and the sea-banks
murmuring my song, and praying to the cruel Galatea.  But of my sweet
hope never will I leave hold, till I reach the uttermost limit of old


It is not well, my friend, to run to the craftsman, whatever may befall,
nor in every matter to need another’s aid, nay, fashion a pipe thyself,
and to thee the task is easy.


May Love call to him the Muses, may the Muses bring with them Love.  Ever
may the Muses give song to me that yearn for it,—sweet song,—than song
there is no sweeter charm.


The constant dropping of water, says the proverb, it wears a hole in a


Nay, leave me not unrewarded, for even Phoebus sang for his reward.  And
the meed of honour betters everything.


Beauty is the glory of womankind, and strength of men.


All things, god-willing, all things may be achieved by mortals.  From the
hands of the blessed come tasks most easy, and that find their


OUR only certain information about Moschus is contained in his own Dirge
for Bion.  He speaks of his verse as ‘Ausonian song,’ and of himself as
Mion’s pupil and successor.  It is plain that he was acquainted with the
poems of Theocritus.


CYPRIS was raising the hue and cry for Love, her child,—‘Who, where the
three ways meet, has seen Love wandering?  He is my runaway, whosoever
has aught to tell of him shall win his reward.  His prize is the kiss of
Cypris, but if thou bringest him, not the bare kiss, O stranger, but yet
more shalt thou win.  The child is most notable, thou couldst tell him
among twenty together, his skin is not white, but flame coloured, his
eyes are keen and burning, an evil heart and a sweet tongue has he, for
his speech and his mind are at variance.  Like honey is his voice, but
his heart of gall, all tameless is he, and deceitful, the truth is not in
him, a wily brat, and cruel in his pastime.  The locks of his hair are
lovely, but his brow is impudent, and tiny are his little hands, yet far
he shoots his arrows, shoots even to Acheron, and to the King of Hades.

‘The body of Love is naked, but well is his spirit hidden, and winged
like a bird he flits and descends, now here, now there, upon men and
women, and nestles in their inmost hearts.  He hath a little bow, and an
arrow always on the string, tiny is the shaft, but it carries as high as
heaven.  A golden quiver on his back he bears, and within it his bitter
arrows, wherewith full many a time he wounds even me.

‘Cruel are all these instruments of his, but more cruel by far the little
torch, his very own, wherewith he lights up the sun himself.

‘And if thou catch Love, bind him, and bring him, and have no pity, and
if thou see him weeping, take heed lest he give thee the slip; and if he
laugh, hale him along.

‘Yea, and if he wish to kiss thee, beware, for evil is his kiss, and his
lips enchanted.

‘And should he say, “Take these, I give thee in free gift all my
armoury,” touch not at all his treacherous gifts, for they all are dipped
in fire.’


TO Europa, once on a time, a sweet dream was sent by Cypris, when the
third watch of the night sets in, and near is the dawning; when sleep
more sweet than honey rests on the eyelids, limb-loosening sleep, that
binds the eyes with his soft bond, when the flock of truthful dreams
fares wandering.

At that hour she was sleeping, beneath the roof-tree of her home, Europa,
the daughter of Phoenix, being still a maid unwed.  Then she beheld two
Continents at strife for her sake, Asia, and the farther shore, both in
the shape of women.  Of these one had the guise of a stranger, the other
of a lady of that land, and closer still she clung about her maiden, and
kept saying how ‘she was her mother, and herself had nursed Europa.’  But
that other with mighty hands, and forcefully, kept haling the maiden,
nothing loth; declaring that, by the will of Ægis-bearing Zeus, Europa
was destined to be her prize.

But Europa leaped forth from her strown bed in terror, with beating
heart, in such clear vision had she beheld the dream.  Then she sat upon
her bed, and long was silent, still beholding the two women, albeit with
waking eyes; and at last the maiden raised her timorous voice

‘Who of the gods of heaven has sent forth to me these phantoms?  What
manner of dreams have scared me when right sweetly slumbering on my
strown bed, within my bower?  Ah, and who was the alien woman that I
beheld in my sleep?  How strange a longing for her seized my heart, yea,
and how graciously she herself did welcome me, and regard me as it had
been her own child.

‘Ye blessed gods, I pray you, prosper the fulfilment of the dream.’

Therewith she arose, and began to seek the dear maidens of her company,
girls of like age with herself, born in the same year, beloved of her
heart, the daughters of noble sires, with whom she was always wont to
sport, when she was arrayed for the dance, or when she would bathe her
bright body at the mouths of the rivers, or would gather fragrant lilies
on the leas.

And soon she found them, each bearing in her hand a basket to fill with
flowers, and to the meadows near the salt sea they set forth, where
always they were wont to gather in their company, delighting in the
roses, and the sound of the waves.  But Europa herself bore a basket of
gold, a marvel well worth gazing on, a choice work of Hephaestus.  He
gave it to Libya, for a bridal-gift, when she approached the bed of the
Shaker of the Earth, and Libya gave it to beautiful Telephassa, who was
of her own blood; and to Europa, still an unwedded maid, her mother,
Telephassa, gave the splendid gift.

Many bright and cunning things were wrought in the basket: therein was
Io, daughter of Inachus, fashioned in gold; still in the shape of a
heifer she was, and had not her woman’s shape, and wildly wandering she
fared upon the salt sea-ways, like one in act to swim; and the sea was
wrought in blue steel.  And aloft upon the double brow of the shore, two
men were standing together and watching the heifer’s sea-faring.  There
too was Zeus, son of Cronos, lightly touching with his divine hand the
cow of the line of Inachus, and her, by Nile of the seven streams, he was
changing again, from a horned heifer to a woman.  Silver was the stream
of Nile, and the heifer of bronze and Zeus himself was fashioned in gold.
And all about, beneath the rim of the rounded basket, was the story of
Hermes graven, and near him lay stretched out Argus, notable for his
sleepless eyes.  And from the red blood of Argus was springing a bird
that rejoiced in the flower-bright colour of his feathers, and spreading
abroad his tail, even as some swift ship on the sea doth spread all
canvas, was covering with his plumes the lips of the golden vessel.  Even
thus was wrought the basket of the lovely Europa.

Now the girls, so soon as they were come to the flowering meadows, took
great delight in various sorts of flowers, whereof one would pluck
sweet-breathed narcissus, another the hyacinth, another the violet, a
fourth the creeping thyme, and on the ground there fell many petals of
the meadows rich with spring.  Others again were emulously gathering the
fragrant tresses of the yellow crocus; but in the midst of them all the
princess culled with her hand the splendour of the crimson rose, and
shone pre-eminent among them all like the foam-born goddess among the
Graces.  Verily she was not for long to set her heart’s delight upon the
flowers, nay, nor long to keep untouched her maiden girdle.  For of a
truth, the son of Cronos, so soon as he beheld her, was troubled, and his
heart was subdued by the sudden shafts of Cypris, who alone can conquer
even Zeus.  Therefore, both to avoid the wrath of jealous Hera, and being
eager to beguile the maiden’s tender heart, he concealed his godhead, and
changed his shape, and became a bull.  Not such an one as feeds in the
stall nor such as cleaves the furrow, and drags the curved plough, nor
such as grazes on the grass, nor such a bull as is subdued beneath the
yoke, and draws the burdened wain.  Nay, but while all the rest of his
body was bright chestnut, a silver circle shone between his brows, and
his eyes gleamed softly, and ever sent forth lightning of desire.  From
his brow branched horns of even length, like the crescent of the horned
moon, when her disk is cloven in twain.  He came into the meadow, and his
coming terrified not the maidens, nay, within them all wakened desire to
draw nigh the lovely bull, and to touch him, and his heavenly fragrance
was scattered afar, exceeding even the sweet perfume of the meadows.  And
he stood before the feet of fair Europa, and kept licking her neck, and
cast his spell over the maiden.  And she still caressed him, and gently
with her hands she wiped away the deep foam from his lips, and kissed the
bull.  Then he lowed so gently, ye would think ye heard the Mygdonian
flute uttering a dulcet sound.

He bowed himself before her feet, and, bending back his neck, he gazed on
Europa, and showed her his broad back.  Then she spake among her
deep-tressed maidens, saying—

‘Come, dear playmates, maidens of like age with me, let us mount the bull
here and take our pastime, for truly, he will bear us on his back, and
carry all of us; and how mild he is, and dear, and gentle to behold, and
no whit like other bulls.  A mind as honest as a man’s possesses him, and
he lacks nothing but speech.’

So she spake, and smiling, she sat down on the back of the bull, and the
others were about to follow her.  But the bull leaped up immediately, now
he had gotten her that he desired, and swiftly he sped to the deep.  The
maiden turned, and called again and again to her dear playmates,
stretching out her hands, but they could not reach her.  The strand he
gained, and forward he sped like a dolphin, faring with unwetted hooves
over the wide waves.  And the sea, as he came, grew smooth, and the
sea-monsters gambolled around, before the feet of Zeus, and the dolphin
rejoiced, and rising from the deeps, he tumbled on the swell of the sea.
The Nereids arose out of the salt water, and all of them came on in
orderly array, riding on the backs of sea-beasts.  And himself, the
thund’rous Shaker of the World, appeared above the sea, and made smooth
the wave, and guided his brother on the salt sea path; and round him were
gathered the Tritons, these hoarse trumpeters of the deep, blowing from
their long conches a bridal melody.

Meanwhile Europa, riding on the back of the divine bull, with one hand
clasped the beast’s great horn, and with the other caught up the purple
fold of her garment, lest it might trail and be wet in the hoar sea’s
infinite spray.  And her deep robe was swelled out by the winds, like the
sail of a ship, and lightly still did waft the maiden onward.  But when
she was now far off from her own country, and neither sea-beat headland
nor steep hill could now be seen, but above, the air, and beneath, the
limitless deep, timidly she looked around, and uttered her voice, saying—

‘Whither bearest thou me, bull-god?  What art thou? how dost thou fare on
thy feet through the path of the sea-beasts, nor fearest the sea?  The
sea is a path meet for swift ships that traverse the brine, but bulls
dread the salt sea-ways.  What drink is sweet to thee, what food shalt
thou find from the deep?  Nay, art thou then some god, for godlike are
these deeds of thine?  Lo, neither do dolphins of the brine fare on land,
nor bulls on the deep, but dreadless dost thou rush o’er land and sea
alike, thy hooves serving thee for oars.

‘Nay, perchance thou wilt rise above the grey air, and flee on high, like
the swift birds.  Alas for me, and alas again, for mine exceeding evil
fortune, alas for me that have left my father’s house, and following this
bull, on a strange sea-faring I go, and wander lonely.  But I pray thee
that rulest the grey salt sea, thou Shaker of the Earth, propitious meet
me, and methinks I see thee smoothing this path of mine before me.  For
surely it is not without a god to aid, that I pass through these paths of
the waters!’

So spake she, and the horned bull made answer to her again—

‘Take courage, maiden, and dread not the swell of the deep.  Behold I am
Zeus, even I, though, closely beheld, I wear the form of a bull, for I
can put on the semblance of what thing I will.  But ’tis love of thee
that has compelled me to measure out so great a space of the salt sea, in
a bull’s shape.  Lo, Crete shall presently receive thee, Crete that was
mine own foster-mother, where thy bridal chamber shall be.  Yea, and from
me shalt thou bear glorious sons, to be sceptre-swaying kings over
earthly men.

So spake he, and all he spake was fulfilled.  And verily Crete appeared,
and Zeus took his own shape again, and he loosed her girdle, and the
Hours arrayed their bridal bed.  She that before was a maiden straightway
became the bride of Zeus, and she bare children to Zeus, yea, anon she
was a mother.


WAIL, let me hear you wail, ye woodland glades, and thou Dorian water;
and weep ye rivers, for Bion, the well beloved!  Now all ye green things
mourn, and now ye groves lament him, ye flowers now in sad clusters
breathe yourselves away.  Now redden ye roses in your sorrow, and now wax
red ye wind-flowers, now thou hyacinth, whisper the letters on thee
graven, and add a deeper _ai ai_ to thy petals; he is dead, the beautiful

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

Ye nightingales that lament among the thick leaves of the trees, tell ye
to the Sicilian waters of Arethusa the tidings that Bion the herdsman is
dead, and that with Bion song too has died, and perished hath the Dorian

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

Ye Strymonian swans, sadly wail ye by the waters, and chant with
melancholy notes the dolorous song, even such a song as in his time with
voice like yours he was wont to sing.  And tell again to the Œagrian
maidens, tell to all the Nymphs Bistonian, how that he hath perished, the
Dorian Orpheus.

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

No more to his herds he sings, that beloved herdsman, no more ’neath the
lonely oaks he sits and sings, nay, but by Pluteus’s side he chants a
refrain of oblivion.  The mountains too are voiceless: and the heifers
that wander by the bulls lament and refuse their pasture.

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

Thy sudden doom, O Bion, Apollo himself lamented, and the Satyrs mourned
thee, and the Priapi in sable raiment, and the Panes sorrow for thy song,
and the fountain fairies in the wood made moan, and their tears turned to
rivers of waters.  And Echo in the rocks laments that thou art silent,
and no more she mimics thy voice.  And in sorrow for thy fall the trees
cast down their fruit, and all the flowers have faded.  From the ewes
hath flowed no fair milk, nor honey from the hives, nay, it hath perished
for mere sorrow in the wax, for now hath thy honey perished, and no more
it behoves men to gather the honey of the bees.

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

Not so much did the dolphin mourn beside the sea-banks, nor ever sang so
sweet the nightingale on the cliffs, nor so much lamented the swallow on
the long ranges of the hills, nor shrilled so loud the halcyon o’er his

(_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.)

Nor so much, by the grey sea-waves, did ever the sea-bird sing, nor so
much in the dells of dawn did the bird of Memnon bewail the son of the
Morning, fluttering around his tomb, as they lamented for Bion dead.

Nightingales, and all the swallows that once he was wont to delight, that
he would teach to speak, they sat over against each other on the boughs
and kept moaning, and the birds sang in answer, ‘Wail, ye wretched ones,
even ye!’

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

Who, ah who will ever make music on thy pipe, O thrice desired Bion, and
who will put his mouth to the reeds of thine instrument? who is so bold?

For still thy lips and still thy breath survive, and Echo, among the
reeds, doth still feed upon thy songs.  To Pan shall I bear the pipe?
Nay, perchance even he would fear to set his mouth to it, lest, after
thee, he should win but the second prize.

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

Yea, and Galatea laments thy song, she whom once thou wouldst delight, as
with thee she sat by the sea-banks.  For not like the Cyclops didst thou
sing—him fair Galatea ever fled, but on thee she still looked more kindly
than on the salt water.  And now hath she forgotten the wave, and sits on
the lonely sands, but still she keeps thy kine.

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

All the gifts of the Muses, herdsman, have died with thee, the delightful
kisses of maidens, the lips of boys; and woful round thy tomb the loves
are weeping.  But Cypris loves thee far more than the kiss wherewith she
kissed the dying Adonis.

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

This, O most musical of rivers, is thy second sorrow, this, Meles, thy
new woe.  Of old didst thou lose Homer, that sweet mouth of Calliope, and
men say thou didst bewail thy goodly son with streams of many tears, and
didst fill all the salt sea with the voice of thy lamentation—now again
another son thou weepest, and in a new sorrow art thou wasting away.

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

Both were beloved of the fountains, and one ever drank of the Pegasean
fount, but the other would drain a draught of Arethusa.  And the one sang
the fair daughter of Tyndarus, and the mighty son of Thetis, and Menelaus
Atreus’s son, but that other,—not of wars, not of tears, but of Pan,
would he sing, and of herdsmen would he chant, and so singing, he tended
the herds.  And pipes he would fashion, and would milk the sweet heifer,
and taught lads how to kiss, and Love he cherished in his bosom and woke
the passion of Aphrodite.

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

Every famous city laments thee, Bion, and all the towns.  Ascra laments
thee far more than her Hesiod, and Pindar is less regretted by the
forests of Boeotia.  Nor so much did pleasant Lesbos mourn for Alcaeus,
nor did the Teian town so greatly bewail her poet, while for thee more
than for Archilochus doth Paros yearn, and not for Sappho, but still for
thee doth Mytilene wail her musical lament;

                     [_Here seven verses are lost_.]

And in Syracuse Theocritus; but I sing thee the dirge of an Ausonian
sorrow, I that am no stranger to the pastoral song, but heir of the Doric
Muse which thou didst teach thy pupils.  This was thy gift to me; to
others didst thou leave thy wealth, to me thy minstrelsy.

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

Ah me, when the mallows wither in the garden, and the green parsley, and
the curled tendrils of the anise, on a later day they live again, and
spring in another year; but we men, we, the great and mighty, or wise,
when once we have died, in hollow earth we sleep, gone down into silence;
a right long, and endless, and unawakening sleep.  And thou too, in the
earth wilt be lapped in silence, but the nymphs have thought good that
the frog should eternally sing.  Nay, him I would not envy, for ’tis no
sweet song he singeth.

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

Poison came, Bion, to thy mouth, thou didst know poison.  To such lips as
thine did it come, and was not sweetened?  What mortal was so cruel that
could mix poison for thee, or who could give thee the venom that heard
thy voice? surely he had no music in his soul.

_Begin_, _ye Sicilian Muses_, _begin the dirge_.

But justice hath overtaken them all.  Still for this sorrow I weep, and
bewail thy ruin.  But ah, if I might have gone down like Orpheus to
Tartarus, or as once Odysseus, or Alcides of yore, I too would speedily
have come to the house of Pluteus, that thee perchance I might behold,
and if thou singest to Pluteus, that I might hear what is thy song.  Nay,
sing to the Maiden some strain of Sicily, sing some sweet pastoral lay.

And she too is Sicilian, and on the shores by Aetna she was wont to play,
and she knew the Dorian strain.  Not unrewarded will the singing be; and
as once to Orpheus’s sweet minstrelsy she gave Eurydice to return with
him, even so will she send thee too, Bion, to the hills.  But if I, even
I, and my piping had aught availed, before Pluteus I too would have sung.


_A sad dialogue between Megara the wife and Alcmena the mother of the
wandering Heracles_.  _Megara had seen her own children slain by her
lord_, _in his frenzy_, _while Alcmena was constantly disquieted by
ominous dreams_.

                                * * * * *

MY mother, wherefore art thou thus smitten in thy soul with exceeding
sorrow, and the rose is no longer firm in thy cheeks as of yore? why,
tell me, art thou thus disquieted?  Is it because thy glorious son is
suffering pains unnumbered in bondage to a man of naught, as it were a
lion in bondage to a fawn?  Woe is me, why, ah why have the immortal gods
thus brought on me so great dishonour, and wherefore did my parents get
me for so ill a doom?  Wretched woman that I am, who came to the bed of a
man without reproach and ever held him honourable and dear as mine own
eyes,—ay and still worship and hold him sacred in my heart—yet none other
of men living hath had more evil hap or tasted in his soul so many
griefs.  In madness once, with the bow Apollo’s self had given him—dread
weapon of some Fury or spirit of Death—he struck down his own children,
and took their dear life away, as his frenzy raged through the house till
it swam in blood.  With mine own eyes, I saw them smitten, woe is me, by
their father’s arrows—a thing none else hath suffered even in dreams.
Nor could I aid them as they cried ever on their mother; the evil that
was upon them was past help.  As a bird mourneth for her perishing little
ones, devoured in the thicket by some terrible serpent while as yet they
are fledglings, and the kind mother flutters round them making most
shrill lament, but cannot help her nestlings, yea, and herself hath great
fear to approach the cruel monster; so I unhappy mother, wailing for my
brood, with frenzied feet went wandering through the house.  Would that
by my children’s side I had died myself, and were lying with the
envenomed arrow through my heart.  Would that this had been, O Artemis,
thou that art queen chief of power to womankind.  Then would our parents
have embraced and wept for us and with ample obsequies have laid us on
one common pyre, and have gathered the bones of all of us into one golden
urn, and buried them in the place where first we came to be.  But now
they dwell in Thebes, fair nurse of youth, ploughing the deep soil of the
Aonian plain, while I in Tiryns, rocky city of Hera, am ever thus wounded
at heart with many sorrows, nor is any respite to me from tears.  My
husband I behold but a little time in our house, for he hath many labours
at his hand, whereat he laboureth in wanderings by land and sea, with his
soul strong as rock or steel within his breast.  But thy grief is as the
running waters, as thou lamentest through the nights and all the days of

Nor is there any one of my kinsfolk nigh at hand to cheer me: for it is
not the house wall that severs them, but they all dwell far beyond the
pine-clad Isthmus, nor is there any to whom, as a woman all hapless, I
may look up and refresh my heart, save only my sister Pyrrha; nay, but
she herself grieves yet more for her husband Iphicles thy son: for
methinks ’tis thou that hast borne the most luckless children of all, to
a God, and a mortal man. {205}

Thus spake she, and ever warmer the tears were pouring from her eyes into
her sweet bosom, as she bethought her of her children and next of her own
parents.  And in like manner Alcmena bedewed her pale cheeks with tears,
and deeply sighing from her very heart she thus bespoke her dear daughter
with thick-coming words:

‘Dear child, what is this that hath come into the thoughts of thy heart?
How art thou fain to disquiet us both with the tale of griefs that cannot
be forgotten?  Not for the first time are these woes wept for now.  Are
they not enough, the woes that possess us from our birth continually to
our day of death?  In love with sorrow surely would he be that should
have the heart to count up our woes; such destiny have we received from
God.  Thyself, dear child, I behold vext by endless pains, and thy grief
I can pardon, yea, for even of joy there is satiety.  And exceedingly do
I mourn over and pity thee, for that thou hast partaken of our cruel lot,
the burden whereof is hung above our heads.  For so witness Persephone
and fair-robed Demeter (by whom the enemy that wilfully forswears
himself, lies to his own hurt), that I love thee no less in my heart than
if thou hadst been born of my womb, and wert the maiden darling of my
house: nay, and methinks that thou knowest this well.  Therefore say
never, my flower, that I heed thee not, not even though I wail more
ceaselessly than Niobe of the lovely locks.  No shame it is for a mother
to make moan for the affliction of her son: for ten months I went
heavily, even before I saw him, while I bare him under my girdle, and he
brought me near the gates of the warden of Hell; so fierce the pangs I
endured in my sore travail of him.  And now my son is gone from me in a
strange land to accomplish some new labour; nor know I in my sorrow
whether I shall again receive him returning here or no.  Moreover in
sweet sleep a dreadful dream hath fluttered me; and I exceedingly fear
for the ill-omened vision that I have seen, lest something that I would
not be coming on my children.

It seemed to me that my son, the might of Heracles, held in both hands a
well-wrought spade, wherewith, as one labouring for hire, he was digging
a ditch at the edge of a fruitful field, stripped of his cloak and belted
tunic.  And when he had come to the end of all his work and his labours
at the stout defence of the vine-filled close, he was about to lean his
shovel against the upstanding mound and don the clothes he had worn.  But
suddenly blazed up above the deep trench a quenchless fire, and a
marvellous great flame encompassed him.  But he kept ever giving back
with hurried feet, striving to flee the deadly bolt of Hephaestus; and
ever before his body he kept his spade as it were a shield; and this way
and that he glared around him with his eyes, lest the angry fire should
consume him.  Then brave Iphicles, eager, methought, to help him,
stumbled and fell to earth ere he might reach him, nor could he stand
upright again, but lay helpless, like a weak old man, whom joyless age
constrains to fall when he would not; so he lieth on the ground as he
fell, till one passing by lift him up by the hand, regarding the ancient
reverence for his hoary beard.  Thus lay on the earth Iphicles, wielder
of the shield.  But I kept wailing as I beheld my sons in their sore
plight, until deep sleep quite fled from my eyes, and straightway came
bright morn.  Such dreams, beloved, flitted through my mind all night;
may they all turn against Eurystheus nor come nigh our dwelling, and to
his hurt be my soul prophetic, nor may fate bring aught otherwise to


WHEN the wind on the grey salt sea blows softly, then my weary spirits
rise, and the land no longer pleases me, and far more doth the calm
allure me. {208}  But when the hoary deep is roaring, and the sea is
broken up in foam, and the waves rage high, then lift I mine eyes unto
the earth and trees, and fly the sea, and the land is welcome, and the
shady wood well pleasing in my sight, where even if the wind blow high
the pine-tree sings her song.  Surely an evil life lives the fisherman,
whose home is his ship, and his labours are in the sea, and fishes
thereof are his wandering spoil.  Nay, sweet to me is sleep beneath the
broad-leaved plane-tree; let me love to listen to the murmur of the brook
hard by, soothing, not troubling the husbandman with its sound.


   PAN loved his neighbour Echo; Echo loved
   A gamesome Satyr; he, by her unmoved,
   Loved only Lyde; thus through Echo, Pan,
   Lyde, and Satyr, Love his circle ran.
   Thus all, while their true lovers’ hearts they grieved,
   Were scorned in turn, and what they gave received.
   O all Love’s scorners, learn this lesson true;
   Be kind to Love, that he be kind to you.


ALPHEUS, when he leaves Pisa and makes his way through beneath the deep,
travels on to Arethusa with his waters that the wild olives drank,
bearing her bridal gifts, fair leaves and flowers and sacred soil.  Deep
in the waves he plunges, and runs beneath the sea, and the salt water
mingles not with the sweet.  Nought knows the sea as the river journeys
through.  Thus hath the knavish boy, the maker of mischief, the teacher
of strange ways—thus hath Love by his spell taught even a river to dive.


   LEAVING his torch and his arrows, a wallet strung on his back,
   One day came the mischievous Love-god to follow the plough-share’s
   And he chose him a staff for his driving, and yoked him a sturdy
   And sowed in the furrows the grain to the Mother of Earth most dear.
   Then he said, looking up to the sky: ‘Father Zeus, to my harvest be
   Lest I yoke that bull to my plough that Europa once rode through the


   WOULD that my father had taught me the craft of a keeper of sheep,
   For so in the shade of the elm-tree, or under the rocks on the steep,
   Piping on reeds I had sat, and had lulled my sorrow to sleep. {210}


{0a}  This fragment is from the collection of M. Fauriel; _Chants
Populaires de le Grèce_.

{0b}  _Empedocles on Etna_.

{0c}  Ballet des Arts, dansé par sa Majesté; le 8 janvier, 1663.  A
Paris, par Robert Ballard, MDCLXIII.

{0d}  These and the following ditties are from the modern Greek ballads
collected by MM. Fauriel and Legrand.

{0e}  See Couat, _La Poesie Alexandrine_, p. 68 _et seq._, Paris 1882.

{0f}  See Couat, _op. cit._ p. 395.

{0g}  Couat, p. 434.

{0h}  See Helbig, _Campenische Wandmalerie_, and Brunn, _Die griechischen
Bukoliker und die Bildende Kunst_.

{0i}  The _Hecale_ of Callimachus, or Theseus and the Marathonian Bull,
seems to have been rather a heroic idyl than an epic.

{6}  Or reading Αίολικόν=Aeolian, cf. Thucyd. iii. 102.

{9}  These are places famous in the oldest legends of Arcadia.

{11}  Reading, καταδήσομαι.  Cf.  Fritzsche’s note and Harpocration, s.v.

{13}  On the word ραμβος, see Lobeck, _Aglaoph._ p. 700; and ‘The Bull
Roarer,’ in the translator’s _Custom and Myth_.

{19}  Reading καταδήσομαι.  Cf. line 3, and note.

{21}  He refers to a piece of folk-lore.

{24}  The shovel was used for tossing the sand of the lists; the sheep
were food for Aegon’s great appetite.

{26}  Reading έρίσδεις.

{34}  Melanthius was the treacherous goatherd put to a cruel death by

{36}  Ameis and Fritzsche take νιν (as here) to be the dog, not Galatea.
The sex of the Cyclops’s sheep-dog makes the meaning obscure.

{40}  Or, δόμον Ώρομέδοντος.  Hermann renders this _domum Oromedonteam_ a
gigantic house.’  Oromedon or Eurymedon was the king of the Gigantes,
mentioned in Odyssey vii. 58.

{41}  έσχατα.  This is taken by some to mean _algam infimam_, ‘the bottom
weeds of the deepest seas’, by others, the sea-weed highest on the shore,
at high watermark.

{42}  Comatas was a goatherd who devoutly served the Muses, and
sacrificed to them his masters goats.  His master therefore shut him up
in a cedar chest, opening which at the year’s end he found Comatas alive,
by miracle, the bees having fed him with honey.  Thus, in a mediaeval
legend, the Blessed Virgin took the place, for a year, of the frail nun
who had devoutly served her.

{43}  Sneezing in Sicily, as in most countries, was a happy omen.

{50}  A superfluous and apocryphal line is here omitted.

{53}  An allusion to the common superstition (cf. Idyl xii. 24) that
perjurers and liars were punished by pimples and blotches.  The old Irish
held that blotches showed themselves on the faces of Brehons who gave
unjust judgments.

{54}  Spring in the south, like Night in the tropics, comes ‘at one
stride’; but Wordsworth finds the rendering distasteful ‘neque sic
redditum valde placet.’

{57}  ‘Quant à ta manière, je ne puis la rendre.’—SAINTE-BEUVE.

{61}  Reading μηνοφόρως.

{70}  Cf. Wordsworth’s proposed conjecture—

    μετάρσι’, έτων παρεόντων.

Meineke observes ‘tota haec carminis pars luxata et foedissime depravata
est’.  There seems to be a rude early pun in lines 73, 74.

{72}  The reading—

ού φθεγξη; λύκον εΐδες; επαιξέ τις, ως σοφός, εΐπε,—makes good sense.  ως
σοφός is put in the mouth of the girl, and would mean ‘a good guess’!
The allusion of a guest to the superstition that the wolf struck people
dumb is taken by Cynisca for a reference to young Wolf, her secret lover.

{73}  Or, as Wordsworth suggests, reading δάκρυσι, ‘for him your cheeks
are wet with tears.’

{74a}  Shaving in the bronze, and still more, of course, in the stone
age, was an uncomfortable and difficult process.  The backward and
barbarous Thracians were therefore trimmed in the roughest way, like
Aeschines, with his long gnawed moustache.

{74b}  The Megarians having inquired of the Delphic oracle as to their
rank among Greek cities, were told that they were absolute last, and not
in the reckoning at all.

{77}  Our Lady, here, is Persephone.  The ejaculation served for the old
as well as for the new religion of Sicily.  The dialogue is here arranged
as in Fritzsche’s text, and in line 8 his punctuation is followed.

{78a}  If cats are meant, the proverb is probably Alexandrian.  Common as
cats were in Egypt, they were late comers in Greece.

{78b}  Most of the dialogue has been distributed as in the text of

{82}  Reading πέρυσιν.

{89}  _I.e._ Syracuse, a colony of the Ephyraeans or Corinthians.  The
Maiden is Persephone, the Mother Demeter.

{93}  Deipyle, daughter of Adrastus.

{98}  Reading—πιείρα ατε λαον ανέδραμε κόσμος αρούρα.  See also
Wordsworth’s note on line 26.

{104}  For αδέα Wordsworth and Hermann conjecture Ἄρεα.  The sense would
be that Eunica, who thinks herself another Cypris, or Aphrodite is, in
turn, to be rejected by her Ares, her soldier-lover, as she has rejected
the herdsman.

{105}  Reading επιμύσσησι.

{106a}  Reading τα φυκιοέντα τε λαίφη.

{106b}  κώπα.

{106c}  ουδος δ’ ουχι θύραν εΐχ’, and in the next line ά γαρ πενία σφας

{106d}  αυδάν.

{107}  Reading, with Fritzsche—

    αλλ’ όνος εν ράμνω, το τε λύχνιον εν πρυτανείω

    φαντι γαρ αγρυπνίαν τόδ’ εχειν

The lines seem to contain two popular saws, of which it is difficult to
guess the meaning.  The first saw appears to express helplessness; the
second, to hint that such comforts as lamps lit all night long exist in
towns, but are out of the reach of poor fishermen.

{108a}  Reading ηρέμ’ ενυξα και νύξας εχάλαξα.  Asphalion first hooked
his fish, which ran gamely, and nearly doubled up the rod.  Then the fish
sulked, and the angler half despaired of landing him.  To stir the sullen
fish, he reminded him of his wound, probably, as we do now, by keeping a
tight line, and tapping the butt of the rod.  Then he slackened, giving
the fish line in case of a sudden rush; but as there was no such rush, he
took in line, or perhaps only showed his fish the butt (for it is not
probable that Asphalion had a reel), and so landed him.  The
Mediterranean fishers generally toss the fish to land with no display of
science, but Asphalion’s imaginary capture was a monster.

{108b}  It is difficult to understand this proceeding.  Perhaps Asphalion
had some small net fastened with strings to his boat, in which he towed
fish to shore, that the contact with the water might keep them fresher
than they were likely to be in the bottom of the coble.  On the other
hand, Asphalion was fishing from a rock.  His dream may have been

{111}  πυρεΐα appear to have been ‘fire sticks,’ by rubbing which
together the heroes struck a light.

{118}  Or εγχεα λοΰσαι, ‘wash the spears,’ as in the Zulu idiom.

{124}  In line 57 for τηλε read Wordsworth’s conjecture τηδε = ενταΰθα.

{127}  Odyssey. xix. 36 seq.  (Reading απερ not ατερ.)  ‘Father, surely a
great marvel is this that I behold with mine eyes meseems, at least, that
the walls of the hall . . . are bright as it were with flaming fire’ . . .
‘Lo! this is the wont of the gods that hold Olympus.’

{128}  ξηρον, _prae timore non lacrymantem_ (Paley).

{129}  Reading, after Fritzsche, ρωγάδος εκ πέτρας.  We should have
expected the accursed ashes (like those of Wyclif) to be thrown _into_
the river; cf. Virgil, Ecl. viii. 101, ‘Fer cineres, Amarylli, foras,
rivoque fluenti transque caput lace nec respexeris.’  Virgil’s knowledge
of these observances was not inferior to that of Theocritus.

{130}  Reading εστεμμένω.  If εστεμμνον is read, the phrase will mean
‘pure brimming water.’

{135}  Reading οσσον.

{143}  Reading αλλη, as in Wordsworth’s conjecture, instead of υλη.

{144}  Reading ποπανεύματα.

{145}  Πένθημα και ου πενθηα, a play on words difficult to retain in
English.  Compare Idyl xiii. line 74.

{147}  The conjecture εμα δ’ gives a good sense, _mea vero Helena me
potius ultra petit_.

{148}  Reading, as in Wordsworth’s conjecture, μη ’πιβάλης ταν χεΐρα, και
ει γ’ ετι χεΐλος, αμύξω.

{150a}  Reading οΐδ’, ακρατιμίη εσσι, with Fritzsche.  Compare the
conjecture of Wordsworth, Ὀύδ’ ακρα τι μη εσσι.

{150b}  See Wordsworth’s explanation.

{153}  Syracuse.

{165}  Reading, πεδοικισται (that is, the Corinthian founders of
Syracuse), and following Wordsworth’s other conjectures.

{167}  This epigram may have been added by the first editor of
Theocritus, Artemidorus the Grammarian.

{176}  This conjecture of Meineke’s offers, at least, a meaning.

{181}  _Les hommes sont tous condamnés à mort_, _avec des sursis
indéfinis_.—VICTOR HUGO.

{205}  Alcmena bore Iphicles to Amphictyon, Hercules to Zeus.

{208}  Reading, with Weise, ποτάγει δε πολυ πλεον αμμε γαλάνα.

{210}  For the translations into verse I have to thank Mr. Ernest Myers.

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