[BACK] [Blueprint] [NEXT]


From Specimens of the Poets and Poetry of Greece and Rome by Various Translators, edited by William Peter, A. M. of Christ-church, Oxford; Philadelphia: Carey and Hart; 1847; pp. 235-237.



[About 260 B. C.]

CALLIMACHUS was born at Cyrene, and taught letters at Alexandra, where he also filled the place of keeper of the Alexandrian Library, under Ptolemy Philadelphus and his son, Ptolemy Euergetes. He produced a variety of works, — elegies,* satires, mythological tales, hymns and inscriptions, — of which only a few of the two latter remain.

*  One of these, on the consecration of Queen Berenice’s hair in the temple of Venus, is known to us by the Latin version of Catullus.




Translated by Sir. C. A. Elton

. . . . . . . IN times of old, Minerva loved
A fair companion with exceeding love —
The mother of Tiresias; nor apart
Liv’d they a moment. Whether she her steeds
Drove to the Thespians old, or musky groves
Of Coronæa, and Curalius’ banks,
That smoke with fragrant altars, or approach’d
To Haliartus, and Bœotia’s fields;
Still in the chariot by her side she placed
The nymph Chariclo; nor the prattlings sweet,
Nor dances of the nymphs, to her were sweet,
Unless Chariclo spoke, or led the dance.
Yet for the nymph Chariclo was reserved
A store of tears; for her, the favour’d Nymph,
The pleasing partner of Minerva’s hours.
For once, on Helicon, they loosed the clasps
That held their flowing robes, and bathed their limbs
In Hippocrene, that, bounteous, glided by;
While noonday stillness wrapp’d the mountain round.
Both laved together; ’twas the time of noon;
And deep the stilly silence of the mount.
When, with his dogs of chase, Tiresias trod
That sacred haunt. The darkening down just bloom’d
Upon his cheek. With thirst unutterable
Panting, he sought that fountain’s gushing stream,
Unhappy; and, involuntary, saw
What mortal eyes, not blameless, may behold.
236 Minerva, though incensed, thus pitying spoke:
“Who to this luckless spot conducted thee,
O son of Everus? who sightless hence
Must needs depart!” she said, and darkness fell
On the youth’s eyes, astonished where he stood:
A shooting anguish all his nerves benumb’d,
And consternation chain’d his murmuring tongue.
Then shriek’d the Nymph; “What, Goddess, hast thou done
To this my child? are these the tender acts
Of Goddesses? thou hast bereaved of eyes
My son. Oh miserable child! thy gaze
Has glanced upon the bosom and the shape
Of Pallas; but the sun thou must behold
No more. Oh miserable me! oh shades
Of Helicon! oh mountain, that my steps
Shall ne’er again ascend! for small offence
Monstrous atonement! thou art well repaid
For some few struggling goats and hunted deer
With my son’s eyes!” the Nymph then folded close,
With both her arms, her son so dearly loved;
And utter’d lamentation, with shrill voice,
And punitive, like the mother nightingale.
The Goddess felt compassion for the Nymph,
The partner of her soul, and softly said:
“Retract, divinest woman! what thy rage
Erring, has utter’d. ’Tis not I that smite
Thy son with blindness. Pallas hath no joy
To rob from youths the lustre of their eyes.
The laws of Saturn thus decree — Whoe’er
Looks on a being of immortal race,
Unless the willing God consent, must look
Thus, at his peril, and atoning pay
The dreadful penalty. This act of fate,
Divinest woman, may not be recall’d.
So spun the Destinies his mortal thread
When thou didst bear him. Son of Everus!
Take then thy portion. But, what hecatombs
Shall Aristæus and Autonoë,
Hereafter, on the smoking altars lay,
So that the youth Actæon, their sad son,
Might be but blind, like thee! for know that youth
Shall join the great Diana in the chase;
Yet, not the chase, nor darts in common thrown,
Shall save him; when his undesigning glance
Discerns the goddess in her loveliness
Amidst the bath. His own unconscious dogs
Shall tear their master, and his mother cull
His scatter’d bones, wild-wandering through the woods,
That mother, Nymph! shall call thee blest, who now
Receivest from the mount thy sightless son.
Oh weep no more, companion! for thy sake
I yet have ample recompense in store
For this thy son. Behold! I bid him rise
A prophet: far o’er ever seer renown’d
To future ages. He shall read the flights
Of birds, and know whatever on the wing
Hovers auspicious, or ill-omen’d flies,
Or void of auspice. Many oracles
To the Bœtians shall his tongue reveal;
To Cadmus, and the great Labdacian tribe.
I will endow him with a mighty staff,
To guide his steps aright; and I will give
A lengthen’d boundary to his mortal life;
And, when he dies, he only, midst the dead,
Shall dwell inspired, and, honoured by that king
Who rules the shadowy people of the grave.”

     She spoke, and gave the nod; what Pallas wills
Is sure: in her, of all his daughters, Jove
Bade all the glories of her father shine.
Maids of the bath! no mother brought her forth;
Sprung from the head of Jove. Whate’ver the head
Of Jove, inclining, ratifies, the same
Stands firm; and thus his daughter’s nod is fate. —’

     She comes! in very truth, Minerva comes!
Receive the goddess, damsels! ye, whose hearts,
With tender ties, your native Argos binds,
Receive the goddess! with exulting hails,
With vow, and shouts. Hail, Goddess! oh protect
Inachian Argos! hail! and, when thou turn’st
Thy coursers hence, or hitherward again,
Guidest thy chariot-wheels, oh! still preserve
The fortunes of the race from Danaus sprung!




Translated by J. H. Merivale

WE buried him at dawn of day:
Ere set of sun his sister lay
     Self-slaughtered by his side.
Poor Basilé! she could not bear
Longer to breathe the vital air,
     When Melanippus died.

Thus in one fatal hour was left,
Of both a parent’s hopes bereft,
     Their desolated sire;
While all Cyrene mourned to see
The blossoms of her stateliest tree
     By one fell blight expire.



Translated by J. H. Merivale

MARK, Epicydes, how the hunter bears,
His honours in the chase — when timid hares
And nobler stags he tracks through frost and snow,
O’er mountains echoing to the vales below.
Then of some clown halloos — “Here, master, here
Lies panting at your feet the stricken deer” —
He takes no heed, but starts for newer game:
Such is my love, and such his arrow’s aim,
That follows still with speed the flying fair,
But deems the yielding slave below his care.



Translated by W. Peter

IN holy sleep Acanthian Saon lies: —
O say not that the good man ever dies.



Translated by J. H. Merivale

CLEOMBROTUS, upon the rampart’s height
Bade the bright sun farewell; then plunged to night.
237 The cares of life were yet to him unknown;
Glad were his hours, his sky unclouded shone;
But Plato’s reason caught his youthful eye,
And fixed his soul on immortality.



Translated by S. Trevor

A SHELL, Zephyritis, is all that I am,
     First fruits from Selena to thee.
Time was, that a nautilus gaily I swam,
     And steer’d my light bark on the sea.
Then hoisting my own little yards and my sail,
     I swam the soft breeze as it came,
And rowed with my feet, if a calm did prevail,
     And thus, Cypris, got I my name.

But cast by the waves on the Iülian shore,
     I am sent for a plaything to thee.
Now lifeless; — the sea-loving halcyon no more
     Shall brood on the waters for me.

Arsinöe! oh, may all grace thy hand
     On Clinias’ daughter alight;
From Smyrna she sends in Æolia’s land,
     And sweet be her gift in thy sight.

*  It was a custom among the Greek girls on the eve of marriage, to consecrate some favourite toy of their childish years to Venus, and happy might the bride esteem herself, if, like our Selena, the daughter of Clinias, she had it in her power to present, from her cabinet of shells and marine curiosities, a tribute so magnificent as that of the shining conch of the nautilus. The Venus Zephyritis, (so called from the promontory of Zephyrion, near Alexandria, where her temple stood,) was also called Chloris and Arsinöe, and, in fact, was no other than the deified wife of Ptolemy Philadelphus. — See Notes of Bland’s Anthology.



Translated by H. N. Coleridge

THEY told me, Heracleitus, thou wert dead;
And then I thought, and tears thereon did shed,
How oft we two talked down the sun; but thou,
Haicarnassian guest! art ashes now.
Yet live thy nightingales of song; on those
All-plundering Death shall ne’er his hand impose.


[BACK] [Blueprint] [NEXT]

Valid CSS!