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From The Æthiopica: “Heliodorus - An Aethiopian Romance” translated by Thomas Underdowne (Anno 1587), revised and partly rewritten by F. A. Wright; George Routledge & Sons Ltd.: London; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.; [with additional corrections in the online edition by S. Rhoads;] pp. 172-192.




So Calasiris and Cnemon rested in the men’s chamber, and the remainder of the night passed more slowly than they desired and yet sooner than they thought, since the greater part thereof had been spent at the banquet listening to the long tale, of which they could not be weary, so pleasant it was. Without waiting for dawn they came to Nausicles and besought him that he would tell them out of hand where he thought Theagenes was, and bring them thither. He agreed and they set off together. Chariclea besought them much that she might go with them, but she was forced to tarry behind, inasmuch as Nausicles said that they would not go far and would shortly return again and bring Theagenes also. Thus they left her, wavering between sorrow for their departure and joy for hope of what she desired. They were no sooner out of the village, passing along the banks of the Nile, when they saw a crocodile, which crept from the right side to the other and dived under the water as fast as it could. The others were nothing moved by the sight, since to them it was ordinary. But Calasiris prophesied that it signified they should have some let and hinderance on their journey. As for Cnemon, he was so terrified — although he saw it not perfectly but only a glimpsing thereof — that he was within a little of running away. Thereupon 173 Calasiris, seeing that Nausicles was laughing, said: ‘Cnemon, I thought that you were only afraid by night, for the noise and darkness thereof. But it appears that you are over bold by day as well, who are not afraid of names alone but of such things as are common and every man knoweth them not to be terrible.’ ‘What name of God or heavenly power is it,’ said Nausicles, ‘that this good fellow cannot abide?’ ‘Nay,’ quoth Calasiris, ‘if it were a god or power of heaven I should have nothing to say. But it is a human name he trembles at, if any one speaks it; and what is more to be marvelled at, not the name of any man who hath been famous for his renowned acts, but a woman’s, and she too, as he himself says, dead. For yesternight, when you brought me home Chariclea safe from the herdsmen, he hearing the name I speak of — I know not why nor wherefore — would not suffer me to sleep, being still ready to die with fear, so that I had much ado to revive him. If I thought that it would not grieve him nor make him afraid I would tell you the name now, that you might laugh the more.’ And therewithal he named Thisbe.

When Nausicles heard, he laughed no more, but stood in a study a great while, musing in his mind what Cnemon had to do with Thisbe, or how she had harmed him in any sort. Then Cnemon laughed loud and said: ‘You see, good Calasiris, of what force this name is, and how it doth not only abash and fear me, but our good friend Nausicles also. It hath brought him to a wonderful change of his cheer. As for me, I laugh now because I know she is not alive. But lusty Nausicles, who not long ago mocked others in scorn —’ ‘Enough,’ quoth Nausicles; ‘you have taken sufficient revenge upon me, Cnemon. But I pray you tell me; by the gods of hospitality and 174 friendship and by the salt of kindness which, methinks, you have tasted at my table, what mean you by Thisbe’s name? Do you know her indeed, or seek to frighten me, or is it a jest you have devised?’ Then spake Calasiris: ‘Now it behoves you, Cnemon, to tell us your tale; which you have oftentimes promised to communicate to me and have by diverse shifts driven off. Now you may do it very well, both to please Nausicles and also by your talk to take away the weariness of our journey.’

Cnemon consented thereto and told them all briefly what he had before told to Theagenes and Chariclea: how that he was born in Athens, and Aristippus was his father’s name, and Demeneta was his step-mother. He told them also of the wicked love that Demeneta bare to him, and how when she could not come to her purpose, she awaited him with crafty tricks by means of Thisbe, who was suborned by her so to do. He added the manner thereof and how he was banished his country by the people, punishing him as if he had been a parricide; and how, while he was living at Aegina, one of his friends, Charias, told him that Demeneta was dead and the manner of her death, herself also being beguiled by Thisbe. After this he said that Anticles told him how his father was brought into misery by the confiscation of his goods, since Demeneta’s kinsfolk gathered themselves together to condemn him, and made the people think that he had done a murder. Then he said how Thisbe fled from Athens with a lover of hers, who was a merchant of Naucratis. And last of all, how he with Anticles sailed to Egypt to seek Thisbe, that if they could find her they might bring her back to Athens, and deliver his father from that slander, and take revenge upon her: how after he had fallen into divers mishaps by 175 the way he was taken by pirates: and how escaping from them he came again to Egypt and was taken by the herdsmen and there fell acquainted with Theagenes and Chariclea. And thereto he added Thisbe’s death and other things in order, until he came to that which Calasiris and Nausicles knew well enough.

This tale ended, Nausicles had a thousand thoughts in his mind, sometimes thinking to tell them of Thisbe and himself, and then determining to delay a while. At last with much ado he held his tongue, partly because he thought it best so to do, partly since another chance stopped him. For after they had gone about seven miles and a half, and were almost at the town where Mitranes dwelt, they met one whom Nausicles knew well, and asked him whither he went so fast. ‘Do you ask,’ quoth he, ‘whither I go, Nausicles? As though you knew not what I have to do at this time? All that I do tendeth to one end, to fulfil the commandments of Isias of Chemmis. For her I till my land, for her I provide all things, for her I pass my nights and days in wakefulness, refusing nothing that Isias commands, although I gain nothing but grief and sorrow for my pains. It is to her that I carry now in haste this Nile flamingo, as my dear mistress hath bidden me.’ ‘How easy a lover you have gotten,’ said Nausicles, ‘and how light be her commands, when she bids you get her a flamingo and not rather a phoenix, which bird cometh to us from the Ethiopians and the men of Ind.’ ‘She maketh but a jest of me and my pains,’ quoth he, ‘according to her fashion. But tell me now whither and on what business you go.’ When they told him they were going to Mitranes — ‘You lose your labour,’ quoth he; ‘Mitranes is not here now. This night with his army he has gone against the herdsmen who dwell in 176 the village of Bessa. For they with their captain Thyamis have taken away and kept a young man, whom he sent to Memphis to Oroöndates, to be carried thence as a present to the great king.’

When he had told them this he went his way, saying: ’I must in haste to Isias, lest this long tarrying be any impediment to me in my love. Even now perhaps with angry eyes she looketh about for me; and she is very clever in accusing and blaming and finding fault with me without cause.’ They were at first bewildered by his tale, and stood still a great while without saying any word, since they were disappointed contrary to their expectation. But at length Nausicles comforted them, saying they ought not to despair of all that they had in hand because of one disappointment, which would not last for long. It were best now to return to Chemmis, and there to consult of the matter, and then go again with better provision to seek Theagenes, having good hope to find him wherever he was, whether with the herdsman or in some other place. ‘We may not think,’ said he, ‘that this is done without the providence of God, in that we met with one of our acquaintance, who by what he told us has led us to where we should seek for Theagenes, and has taught us the way to the place where the herdsmen dwell, as to a certain mark.’

When he had said this he easily persuaded them; for, as I think, they gathered hope besides from that which was told them. And Cnemon also by himself comforted Calasiris and bade him be of good cheer, for that Thyamis would use Theagenes well. So it pleased them to return. When they were come home, they found Chariclea at the door, looking for them in every coast. Seeing that Theagenes was not with them she set up a pitiful cry and said: ‘Are you 177 come home alone, father, as you went hence? Without doubt, as I may guess, Theagenes is dead. Wherefore I pray you by all the gods if you have anything to say, tell me, and increase not my sorrow by delay. It is a point of courtesy to tell a mishap quickly, since that causes the mind to be ready to resist the greatness of the evil and soon makes it weary of its grief.’

Then Cnemon, breaking off her over-bitter sorrow, said: ‘For shame, Chariclea! What fashion is this! You are always ready somehow to prophecy the worst, and that too falsely; in which latter point you do well. Theagenes is alive, and by grace of God shall be brought back safe.’ And therewith he told her briefly how and with whom he was. Then quoth Calasiris: ‘It seemeth by what you have said, Cnemon, that you were never in love. Else you would know for sure that things wherein is no danger at all are fearful to lovers, and that in the case of their beloved they trust nothing but the witness of their own eyes. In a lover’s heart absence breedeth fear and heaviness. There is another reason also: lovers persuade themselves that they will never be parted, unless some cruel impediment procure their separation. Wherefore, Cnemon, let us pardon Chariclea, who doth indeed suffer from love’s malady, and go in ourselves and consider what had best be done.’

This said, he took Chariclea by the hand, and with a certain fatherly observance brought her into the house. Nausicles, wishing to refresh them after their troubles and also now preparing some other things also, ordained a more sumptuous banquet than was his custom, and placed them alone at table with his daughter, decking her in more brave and costly fashion than was his wont. When he thought that they 178 were satisfied with the feast he spake thus to them: ‘My guests — the gods are witnesses of what I say — your presence is very acceptable to me; even if you will live here always and take all that is mine, even my dearest possessions, for your own. And since I count you not as strangers but as my lovers and true friends, what I bestow upon you will be no burden to me. Moreover, as long as I am with you I am ready to help you, if you wish, to search for your kinsman to the best of my power. But you know yourself that my trade of life standeth by merchandise, and that I cultivate the same as if it were a farm. Now therefore seeing that the westerly winds blow very commodiously, so that they make the sea easy to be sailed and promise good speed to merchants, and my business calls me as it were with a trumpet to Greece, you will do very well if you tell me your mind, that I may order my business to such an end as may please you.’

At this Calasiris, after pausing a while, said: ‘Nausicles, good luck to you on your voyage. May Mercury, who giveth gain, and Neptune, giving quiet passage, bear you company and be your guides. May they make every haven a good harbour for you and every city easy to trade in and kindly to your merchandise: inasmuch as you have entertained us generously while we have been with you, and now we have a mind to depart do suffer us gently to go, observing in every point the laws of hospitality and friendship. As for us, although it grieve us greatly to depart from you and your house, which you have caused us to take for our own, yet we must needs go seek those whom we hold most dear. This is Chariclea’s determination and mine: but what Cnemon doth 179 purpose to do, whether he will travel with us to do us pleasure, or hath appointed to do anything else, let him now himself say.’ Cnemon was going to answer and was just about to speak, when suddenly he burst out sobbing and the hot tears which trickled down his cheeks stopped his tongue. At length coming to himself again he said with a sorrowful voice; ‘O human estate most unstable and full of all manner of changes, what store of mishaps hast thou shown as well in me as in many another man! Thou hast deprived me of my kinsfolk and my father’s house; thou hast banished me from country, city, and all I love; thou hast brought me to Egypt — and to say nothing of my mishaps on the way — hast brought me into the hands of the herdsmen robbers. There thou gavest me a gleam of hope by acquainting me with men who though they were in misery were yet Greeks, with whom I thought to live all the rest of my life. But this hope now thou seemest to be taking from me. Wither shall I turn? What shall I do? Shall I leave Chariclea who hath not yet found Theagenes? That is intolerable and may not be done. Shall I go with her to seek him? If we were sure to find him, it were well done to take pains in hope of a happy end; but if that which is to come be uncertain, and we hap to fall into greater sorrow, no man can tell where my travels will end. What if, craving pardon of you and the gods of friendship, I now at length make mention of returning to my country and my kin? By the providence of the gods, as I think, a good occasion thereto hath now been offered, seeing that Nausicles says that he intends to sail to Greece, lest if my father die in mine absence our house be left without an heir. For though I shall live in penury, yet that there should be left some of our stock by me is a thing very honourable 180 and in itself sufficient. But, Chariclea, I would be excused to you especially, and I crave pardon at your hand, and pray you to show me this much favour: let me go with you to Bessa and I will beg Nausicles to tarry for me a little while, although he be in haste. Let me deliver you there to Theagenes, and be counted one that has well guarded what was entrusted to him, leaving you, seeing we part so well, with better hopes myself to speed well afterwards. And if we should fail of him there — which God forbid — I shall be free of blame; for I shall leave you not alone, but with Calasiris your good father who will protect you well.’

Chariclea perceived by many signs that Cnemon was in love with Nausicles’ daughter — for a lover’s eye is very quick to espy another who is like affected — and that Nausicles by what he said was planning a marriage and enticing Cnemon by diverse allurements. She judged moreover that he was now no meet companion for their journey nor yet free from suspicion, and made him answer thus: ‘Do as it pleaseth you. I give you hearty thanks for what you have done for us already, and confess myself to be in your debt. As for the time to come, it is not needful that you should care for our business, nor run danger in other men’s affairs against your will. God grant that you recover your country, city and house; and do not disregard Nausicles nor the offer he makes you. As for me and Calasiris, we shall contend with all that may happen to us, until we find an end of our wanderings; and although no man bear us fellowship, yet I trust the gods will be our companions.’ Thereupon spake Nausicles: ‘The gods send Chariclea her heart’s desire, and bear her company as she asks, and grant that she may recover her kinsfolk, inasmuch as she is 181 of so noble a courage and excellent wisdom. As for you, Cnemon, be no longer sorrowful that you cannot carry Thisbe with you to Athens: you have me here, who carried her thence so craftily: for I am that merchant of Naucratis, Thisbe’s lover. You need not lament your poverty nor think that soon you will be a beggar. If you will be ruled by me you will gain a great sum of money, and under my guidance recover your country and your house. And if you list to take a wife, you shall have my daughter Nausiclea, and a great dowry with her, and I will think that I have already received what is due at your hands, because I know of what kindred and house you be come.’ Cnemon did not delay, but took that which before he desired and was now offered beyond his hopes, and said; ‘All that you promise me I accept with all my heart.’ And therewithal he gave him his hand, and Nausicles affianced and delivered his daughter to him, and commanding the marriage song to be sung by the homefolk began to dance first himself, making a sudden marriage of the banquet there prepared.

The others then turned to dancing, and with songs followed in a company to the bridal chamber, and all night long the house was lighted with such torches as are used at weddings. But Chariclea, departing from the rest, went into her chamber, and bolting the door so that none should trouble her, united and cast abroad her hair, as if she were in a frenzy, and tearing her apparel cried: ‘Well, let us too dance after his own fashion in honour of the god who hath care of my life. Let us sing to him with tears and dance with lamentations. Let the torch be cast to earth and the darkness resound, and let murky night rule the play. What a nuptial bower hath he made for me! What 182 a marriage bed hath he prepared! He holds me here alone and without my bridegroom, and doth widow me of Theagenes who in name only is my husband. Alas for me! Cnemon is married, but Theagenes is roaming abroad, a prisoner perhaps and even held in chains. And that for me is happiness: I only pray he be alive. Nausiclea hath a husband, and is separated from me who until last night shared her bed. Chariclea only is alone and forsaken. I blame them not for their good fortune, O ye gods and heavenly powers; I pray that they may have their heart’s desire; I blame rather mine own estate, that ye be not so favourable unto us as to them. To such an endless length have you drawn out our tragedy that it now passes all acting. But why do I complain vainly of the miseries the gods send: let the rest also be fulfilled according to their will. But if thou diest, O Theagenes, my only pleasant thought, and I be assured thereof — which God grant I never be — I will not delay to come to thee there. This very night I make my offering to thee’ — and therewithal she plucked forth a lock of hair and laid it on the couch — ‘And these libations I pour from out the eyes thou lovest so dearly’ — and then she moistened her bed with her tears — ‘But if thou be safe, as thou oughtest to be, come and sleep with me, my dearest, appearing to me in my dreams. Yet spare me, spare me thine own maid, and use me not after the guise of married folk. Behold, I embrace thee and think that thou art here and lookest upon me.’

When she had spoken thus she threw herself on her face upon the bed and with sore sighing and pitiful mourning clasped her arms hard together, until a certain stupor and bewilderment cast as it were a mist before the understanding part of her mind, and brought 183 her to sleep, and held her till it was bright day. Calasiris marvelled that he saw her not as he was wont to do, and searching for her came to her chamber; where knocking somewhat hard and calling aloud — ‘Chariclea’ — he waked her at length. She was abashed at the sudden call, and came as she was attired and unbolted the door to let the old man in. Seeing her hair disordered and her garments torn about her breasts and her eyes full of water, he understood the cause; and when he had brought her to her bed again, and caused her to attire herself, and cast a cloak upon her, he said: ‘For shame, Chariclea, what array is this? Why do you vex yourself so sore without ceasing? Why yield you to trouble without reason? Surely now I know you not, whom till now I ever knew to be of excellent courage and very modest. Will you not leave off from this wonderful madness? Will you not remember that you are born mortal; that is to say, an unsteady thing bending sundry ways on every light occasion? Have pity on us, my daughter, have pity: if not for your own sake, yet because of Theagenes, who desireth to live with none but you, and accounteth it his greatest advantage that you are alive.’ Chariclea blushed when she heard him speak thus; the more so thinking how she had been taken; and after she had held her peace a great while, and Calasiris desired her to give him some answer, she said: ‘Father, you have good cause to chide, but perhaps I deserve pardon. It is not any common or violent desire that hath forced me, unhappy creature, to do this, but the pure and chaste love that I bear to a man — although he has never touched me — and that is Theagenes, who now maketh me sad, because he is not here with me, and even more afraid, in that I do not know if he is alive or not.’ 184 ‘As touching that,’ said Calasiris, ‘be of good cheer. You may think that he is alive and by God’s favour will one day be joined to you; since we must give credit to what the oracle foretold to us, and believe also him who told us yesterday that as he was being carried to Memphis he was taken prisoner by Thyamis. If he was thus taken without doubt he is well; for there has been acquaintance and familiarity betwixt them before. Wherefore we ought not to delay but go to Bessa, and seek there, you for Theagenes, and I besides for my son: for you have heard ere now that Thyamis is my son.’ Then was Chariclea in great thought and said: ‘If Thyamis indeed be your son, then are we in worse case than ever we were.’ Calasiris marvelled hereat and asked her why. ‘You know,’ quoth she, ‘how I became prisoner to the herdsmen, where the unhappy beauty with which I am endowed forced Thyamis to love me. It is to be feared lest if he find us as we make inquiry and see me, remembering that I am she who dallied and drave off with divers deceitful promises the marriage which he meant to make with me, that he will take me and by force compel me to finish the same.’ ‘God forbid,’ said Calasiris, ‘that the vehemence of his lust should be such that he would disdain his father’s countenance and not repress his licentious desire, if any such move him. But for all that, why cannot you invent some device to elude that which you so dread? You are very crafty, it seems, and skilful to make shifts, and delays against them that seek to have you.’ Chariclea was somewhat merry at these words and answered: ‘Whether you say this in earnest or in jest, let it pass for this time. But I will tell you the way that Theagenes and I devised, although fortune would not let us put it into practise, and I hope this time we may 185 be more lucky. When we planned to escape from the herdsmen’s island, we decided to change our apparel, and wander about in the villages and towns like ragged and dirty beggars. Wherefore if it please you, let us counterfeit this dress and play the beggar; for then we shall not be so much in danger from those we meet. To beggars poverty brings safety and it is commonly a cause for pity rather than envy. Moreover thus we shall get our daily sustenance more easily; for all things are more dearly sold to strangers who have need to buy and know not the manner of the country; but they will be freely given to such as beg.’

Calasiris praised her device and made haste to be gone. Therefore coming to Nausicles and Cnemon they told them of their departure, and the next day after set out, taking no horse with them, though one was proffered them, nor suffering any man to bear them company, save that Nausicles and Cnemon and the rest of the house started them on their way. Nausiclea also went, begging leave of her father so to do, inasmuch as the love she bare to Chariclea was stronger than her nuptial modesty. When they had accompanied them almost three quarters of a mile, they took their last leave and farewell, each after his kind, and shook hands; and after they had shed a great many tears, and prayed that the parting might be lucky to them, and Cnemon craved pardon for that he went not with them by reason of his new marriage and told them that if he could get occasion he would follow them, they left each other, and they went back to Chemmis, while Chariclea and Calasiris turned themselves into beggar’s dress, and put on such ill favoured clouts as they had provided before for that purpose. This done, Chariclea befouled her face with mud and soot, and tied a part of a dirty veil about her 186 head suffering it to hang ill-favouredly over her eyes instead of a bonne grace. She had moreover a scrip under her arms, as though she would put pieces of bread and broken meat therein; but indeed it was to carry the holy vesture which she brought from Delphi; her crown, and the rest of the tokens which her mother laid forth with her. Calasiris for his part carried Chariclea’s quiver, wrapped in a torn and naughty piece of leather, the wrong end downward on his shoulders, as if it had been some other thing; and used her bow — which as soon as it was unbent stood very straight — for a staff, leaning very heavily thereon. And if he saw any man coming, he would of purpose make his back more crooked than his age required, and go lame of one leg, and sometimes be led of Chariclea by the hand.

After they had learned to play their parts, jesting one at the other and saying how well their garb suited, and had besought the god who had their affairs in charge that he would be content with that which was past and suffer their evil luck to proceed no further, they went to Bessa; where, hoping to find Theagenes and Thyamis, they failed of their purpose. For coming near to Bessa about sunset they beheld a great slaughter of men lately made, of whom the most were Persians, as might easily be known by their armour, and a few of those that dwelt there also. They might conjecture there had been a battle, but they knew not who the parties were that had fought. They ranged about the dead bodies, looking to see if any of their friends were slain — for hearts in fear, careful for what they love best, do oftentimes expect the worst — until at last they saw an old woman who lay upon the dead body of one of the countrymen and wailed wonderfully. They determined therefore, if 187 they could, to inquire somewhat of her; and so, coming to her, attempted at first to comfort her and appease her great sorrow. Which done, they asked for whom she lamented and what battle had been there — Calasiris talking to her in the Egyptian tongue — and she told them all in few words: that she sorrowed for her son, and came of purpose to these dead bodies that some armed man might run on her and kill her; and in the meantime she would do such rites to her son as she was able with tears and lamentations. As touching the battle she told them thus: ‘There was a strange young man, of goodly stature and of excellent beauty, carried to Memphis to Oroöndates the great king’s deputy, a prisoner sent, they said, as a great present from Mitranes the captain of the watch. Our men, who dwell in this village’ — showing them a village hard by — ‘came out and took the young man away, saying, whether in truth or for a pretext, that they were acquainted with him. When Mitranes heard of this, being angry — and good cause why — he led his army hither two days ago. Now the people of this village are very warlike, and live ever by plunder, and set not a straw by death, and have taken therefore from me, as well as from other women at other times our husbands and our children. So, when they knew certainly of his coming, they placed their ambushment in places convenient for this purpose, and when their enemies came among them they easily subdued them, some attacking in front and others from the ambush, with clamour setting on the Persians’ backs. Mitranes was slain as he fought with the foremost, and the greater part of his men with him, for being inclosed they had no way to flee; and a few of our people were killed also. Of whom by the wrath of God, my son was one, who had a wound in his 188 breast with a Persian dart, as you see. For him thus slain do I, unhappy creature, sorrow; and shall I fear do the like hereafter for him who is still alive, because yesterday he went with the rest against the inhabitants of Memphis.’ Calasiris asked her why they took upon them that expedition. The old woman answered that she had heard her son who was still alive say that they knew that they were now in no small peril but rather in danger of all they had, since they had slain the king’s soldiers and the captain of his host. Prince Oroöndates had a great company of men with him at Memphis, and as soon as he heard thereof, would come and compass the village about, and revenge this injury by the destruction of all the inhabitants. Therefore they determined, seeing their danger, to redeem their great attempt with one still greater, if they could, and to anticipate Oroöndates’ attack; thinking that if they came on a sudden, either they would kill him in Memphis, or if he were not there, being busied, as report goes, with the Ethiopian war, they would the sooner force the city to yield, as being void of defenders. Thus they themselves would be safe afterwards, and moreover would do their captain Thyamis service by recovering the office of the priesthood which his younger brother by unjust violence withholdeth from him. And if all their hopes failed, then were they determined valiantly to die and not to come into the Persians’ hands to be scorned and tormented by them. ‘But,’ quoth she, ‘strangers, whither go ye?’ ‘To the village,’ said Calasiris. ‘It is not safe,’ said she, ‘to mingle with those of us that are left, seeing that you are not known and come at this unseasonable hour.’ ‘If you will vouchsafe to entertain us,’ said Calasiris, ‘we hope we shall be unharmed.’ ‘I cannot now,’ she answered, ‘for I 189 must do certain night sacrifices. But if you can wait — and indeed there is no remedy; you must, whether you will or not — get you into some place away from these dead bodies to pass the night, and in the morning I promise I will entertain you and be your warrant.’

Thus she said. Calasiris told Chariclea all and took her with him and they went their way. And having gone a little past those bodies, they chanced upon a little hill. There he laid him down with her quiver under his head, and Chariclea sat upon her scrip instead of a stool. The moon had just risen, lightening all things with her brightness, for she was now three days past the full; and Calasiris, being an old man and weary with his travels, fell fast asleep. But Chariclea, by reason of the cares that troubled her, slept not that night but beheld a wicked and abominable play, such as the women of Egypt do commonly perform. The old woman thinking she had now gotten a time wherein she would neither be seen nor troubled of any, first digged a trench, then made a fire on both sides thereof, and in the midst laid her son’s body. Then taking an earthen pot from a three-footed stool which stood thereby she poured honey into the trench; out of another pot she poured milk, and from the third a libation of wine. Lastly she cast into the trench a lump of dough hardened in the fire, which was made like a man and crowned with a garland of laurel and fennel. This done, she took up a sword which lay among the dead men’s shields, and behaving herself as if she had been in a Bacchic frenzy, said many prayers to the moon in strange outlandish terms. Then she cut her arm and with a branch of laurel besprinkled the fire with her blood; and after doing many monstrous and strange things beside these, at length bowing down to her dead son’s 190 body and saying somewhat in his ear, she awakened him, and by force of her witchcraft made him suddenly to stand. Chariclea, who hitherto had been looking not without fear, trembled with horror and was utterly discomforted by that wonderful sight, so that she awaked Calasiris and caused him also the behold the spectacle. They could not be seen in their dark corner, but they saw easily what she did by the light of the fire, and heard also what she said, for they were not very far off, and the old woman spake very loud to the body. Her question was this: ‘Would his brother, her son who was yet alive, return safe or no?’ The body made no answer, but by nodding gave his mother a doubtful hope of success according to her wish, and then fell down upon its face again. But she turned it over on its back and ceased not to ask that question, with more earnest enforcements, it seemed, speaking in his ear. Sometimes she leapt, sword in hand, to the trench, sometimes to the fire, and at length she made the body stand upright again and asked the same question, compelling him to answer not by nods and becks but plainly by word of mouth. While this was doing, Chariclea begged Calasiris earnestly that they might go near and ask the old woman some tidings of Theagenes. But he would not go, saying that the sight was wicked although they were compelled to endure it. It was not becoming for priests either to take delight or be present when such things were doing. Their prescience came from lawful sacrifice and virtuous prayer; the knowledge of sorcerers from traffic with dead bodies in the ground, such as this chance had allowed them to see the Egyptian woman use.

While he spake thus, the dead body cried out very terribly with a hollow voice, as if it had come out of 191 a deep cave, saying: ‘Mother, at the first I spared thee, and suffered thee to sin against nature and break the laws of destiny, attempting by incantations to make those things move which by nature are immovable. For even dead men, in so far as they may, have reverence towards their parents. But since thou hast thyself destroyed this, and proceedest in the wicked and shameful deeds which thou didst at first begin, and art not content that a dead body stand up but wilt compel him to speak also, caring nothing for my burial and barring me from the company of the other spirits for the sake of thy own private need: hear now that which till now I forbore to tell thee — Neither shall thy son come safe home, nor thyself escape death by the sword. As thou hast spent thy life in such wicked deeds as these, thou shalt soon meet the violent death that is appointed for all such. Thou hast endured not only to do these secret and hidden mysteries alone, but in the sight of others also, betraying to them the fortunes of the dead. Of these one is a priest — and that is so much the better, for in his wisdom he knoweth that such things should not be published abroad; and he is also well beloved of the gods; and he shall, if he make speed, reconcile his sons who are ready armed to fight a bloody battle hand to hand. But the other — which is much worse — is a maid, who has seen and heard all that thou hast done to me, a woman distressed by love who wandereth, all the world over almost, for her lover’s sake; with whom after infinite labours and infinite dangers in the furtherest part of the world she shall live in prosperity and kingly estate.

The body fell down when he had said thus. But the old woman perceiving that it was the strangers who looked upon her, armed as she was with a sword, 192 rushed against them like a wild woman. About the dead bodies she ranged thinking they were there in hiding, and meaning, if she could find them to rid them of their lives, as being crafty folk who by their spying upon her had caused her to have ill success in her witchcraft. At length seeking negligently in her anger for them among the bodies, a truncheon of a spear that stood up struck her through the belly; and thus died she, fulfilling straightway by due desert the saying which her son prophesied to her before.


Many thanks to eagle-eyed Menno Rubingh, a software developer in Jena, Germany, for spotting typos, and being kind enough to let me know. — S.R.


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