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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. 108-134.




The next day Apollo’s games were to end but the sport between the young lovers was at its full, Cupid in my opinion being moderator, and arbiter thereof, in full determination to show his games the greatest of all by these two champions whom he had set together. Such was the sight: all Greece looked on and the Amphictyons sat as judges. After all the other contests were sumptuously finished, such as running, wrestling and boxing, at last the herald by proclamation called on those that should run in armour. And therewithal Chariclea as priestess glistered at the race end. For she had come, although against her will, partly for the custom’s sake but more in my judgment upon hope to see Theagenes somewhere. In her left hand she held a burning torch, and in the other hand a branch of palm, and as soon as she appeared every man looked upon her. But even so perchance no one saw her before Theagenes; for a lover is very ready to espy that with love whereof he is held. And besides, after he knew what should be done, he thought upon nothing but to see her. Wherefore he could not keep his own counsel but said quietly to me — for he sat next to me of purpose — ‘That is Chariclea.’ But I bade him be quiet.

After the proclamation was ended there came forth one marvellously well armed, a haughty man and surpassing all the others, as he thought, in honour, who in 109 many courses before who had won the garland: Marry then there was none to contend with him, for none I think would be so bold. The Amphictyons then were for letting him run alone, since by the lay he may not have the crown that hath not ventured for the same. But he made request that challenge might be made against all men. The judges gave command that it should be so and the herald called for some man to run against him. Theagenes said ‘This man doth challenge me.’ ‘What mean you by that?’ quoth I. ‘It shall be so, father,’ quoth he; ‘for none but I, if I look on and be in presence, shall receive reward of victory at Chariclea’s hand.’ ‘Do you neither care for nor esteem the shame that ensueth if you be overcome?’ said I. ‘What man,’ said he, ‘will look on Chariclea and approach to her so hastily that he can get before me? To whom can her eyes give like wings as to me, and cause him to fly so fast? Know you not that painters make love with wings, declaring as by a riddle the nimbleness of those that be in love. And if besides what I have said already I must needs boast, no man hitherto has ever vaunted that he could outrun me.’

When he had said this he leapt forth and went down, declared his name and country and drew lots for his place in the race. Then he put on his armour and stood at the starting point, panting because of the great desire he had to run, and scarcely able to tarry for the sound of the trumpet. It was a goodly sight and worthy to be looked at, much like that wherein Homer bringeth in Achilles as he ran at Scamander. All Greece was moved at this deed, which fell contrary to their expectation, and wished the victory to Theagenes as heartily as if every man had run himself. For comeliness of person is of great force to get the good will of men. 110 Chariclea also was moved beyond measure, and since I looked upon her a great while, I espied how her countenance diversely changed. For after the herald had in all men’s hearing named those that were to run, Ormenus, an Arcadian and Theagenes, a Thessalian, they left their standings and began the race, going with such speed that men could scarce behold them. Then the maid could not keep quiet any more, but her limbs were moved and her feet leapt into the air, as though her mind was with Theagenes helping him in the race. All those that looked on waited to see what the end would be and were very anxious; most of all I, who had now determined with myself to have like care for him as if he had been my son.’ ‘No marvel,’ said Cnemon, ‘if those that were there and saw him were anxious; I myself now am afraid for Theagenes, and therefore, if he got the prize, I pray you quick and tell me.’

‘After they had run the middle of the race,’ said Calasiris, ‘Theagenes turned a little about and frowning upon Ormenus lifted up his shield aloft, and stretching out his neck with his eyes fast fixed on Chariclea, he flew toward her like an arrow to its mark, so that the Arcadian was left many yards behind; which quantity of ground was after measured. Then running to Chariclea he of purpose fell into her lap, as though he could not stay himself, and when he took the garland from her I saw well enough that he kissed her hand.’ ‘O happy turn,’ cried Cnemon; ‘he got the victory and kissed her also. But what happened then?’ ‘Not only canst thou not be satisfied with hearing,’ quoth Calasiris, ‘but thou art not easily overcome by sleep. A great part of the night is past and yet thou keepest watch and art not weary of so long a tale.’ ‘I think Homer was wrong,’ said Cnemon, ‘when he said of all 111 things there is satiety, even of love. In my opinion a man can never be weary thereof, either if he be in love himself, or hear the tale of other lovers. And if a man is telling of the love of Theagenes and Chariclea, who is so stony or hard hearted that he would not conceive delight therein, even if he listened for a year? Wherefore, go forward with your tale.’

‘Theagenes then,’ quoth Calasiris, ‘was crowned, and proclaimed victor, and brought back with all men’s joyful gratulations. And now Chariclea was quite vanquished, and even more enslaved by love even than before, since she had seen Theagenes this second time. For the mutual sight of lovers is a reminder of love, and doth as much inflame the mind as fire when it is put to any dry matter. After she came home, she passed a like night to the others, or even a worse. I also slept but little, considering whither we should go in our secret flight and into what country God would have the young couple carried. I conjectured indeed that we must take our voyage by sea, since the oracle had said —

      ‘And sailing surging streams
Shall come at length to country scorched
      with burning Phoebus’ beams.

But whither they should be conveyed I could find one only way to know, if I could by any means get the wrapping which was laid out with Chariclea, wherein Charicles said that he was told that all the maid’s history was signified. For I thought it was likely that from it I should learn the maid’s parents and country — which already I began to suspect — and perhaps also find whither the ladies of destiny would send them.

The next morning I came very early to Chariclea, and found all her housefolk weeping, and Charicles as much as any. ‘What ado is here?’ said I. ‘My 112 daughter’s sickness,’ answered he, ‘waxeth worse and worse; she hath had a worse night of this then any yet.’ ‘Get you hence,’ quoth I, ‘and all the rest avoid. Let some one set me a three-footed stool here, and a little laurel with fire, and frankincense. And let none come in to trouble me before I call.’ Charicles gave his orders and I having now gotten good occasion, began to play my pageant as if I had been upon a stage. I burned frankincense, and mumbled with my lips, and laid laurel on her from top to toe, and at length, after I had drowsily or old wife like gaped and played the fool a great while with myself and the maid, I made an end. She, while I was thus doing, wagged her head oft, and smiled, and told me that I was deceived and knew not her grief. Therewith I sat nearer to her and said: ‘My daughter, be of good cheer. Thy grief is common and easily healed. Without doubt thou wert bewitched when you were at the pomp, or rather when you presided at the race which was run in armour. And he that hath thus bewitched you, I think, is Theagenes; for I perceived well that he often beheld you and cast many wanton looks at you.’ ‘Whether he did so or not,’ said she, ‘well fare he. But what countryman is he, and of what line is he descended? For I saw many wonder much at him.’ ‘You have heard already,’ said I, ‘that he is a Thessalian, by the herald who proclaimed his name, and he fetcheth his pedigree from Achilles, and in my judgment he may do so with good reason, considering his tall stature and comely personage, which manifestly confirm Achilles’ blood. Saving that he is not so arrogant and proud as that hero was, but doth moderate and assuage the haughtiness and fierceness of his mind with commendable courtesy. Which thing being so, although he have 113 an envious eye and with his looks hath bewitched you, yet he himself hath more pain than he hath caused you to have.’ ‘O Father,’ quoth she, ‘I thank you that you be sorrowful for our mishap; but why do you speak evil without cause of him who hath done us no harm? For I am not bewitched, but have, as I guess, some other infirmity.’ ‘Then daughter,’ said I, ‘why do you conceal it and not frankly utter it, that we may with more ease find remedy thereto? Am I not in age, yea rather in good will, your father? Is not your father familiarly acquainted with me? Are we not of one profession? Tell me your disease and I will keep your counsel; yes, if you will, I will be bound by oath to you so to do. Speak boldly, and suffer not your infirmity to increase with silence. For sickness which is soon known can easily be cured; but that which by long time hath gotten strength is almost incurable. Silence doth much succour any disease; that which is uttered may by comfort easily be remedied.’ Thereat she waited a little, declaring by her countenance many changes of her mind, and said: ‘Let me alone to-day and you shall know it hereafter; if indeed you know it not before, since you profess yourself a soothsayer.’ Therewith I rose and departed, giving her occasion to moderate the bashfulness of her mind. Then Charicles met me and, ‘Have you any good news to tell me?’ quoth he. ‘All shall be well,’ said I, ‘for to-morrow she shall be healed of her infirmity. And there shall be somewhat else happen also of a right pleasurable sort. In the meantime nothing hinders to call in a physician.’ When I had said thus, I made haste to be gone, that he might ask me no more questions.

After I had gone a little way from the house, I espied Theagenes walking about the temple and the 114 precinct, and talking to himself, as though it were sufficient for him even to see the place where Chariclea dwelt. I turned a little aside and was for passing by, as though I had not seen him. But he cried out: ‘God speed you, Calasiris: tarry, I pray you: for I waited for you.’ I turned suddenly about, and said: ‘Why, it is the beautiful Theagenes: I did not see you.’ ‘How am I beautiful,’ quoth he, ‘who do not please Chariclea?’ I set a face on it as though I were angry and said: ‘Will you not cease to speak evil of me and my skill, whereby she is now entrapped and compelled to love you, and doth desire to see you, as one that is mightier than herself.’ ‘What say you, father?’ said he. ‘Doth Chariclea desire to see me? Why do you not then carry me to her?’ And therewith he started to run. But I caught him by the cloak and said: ‘Stand still here, although you be very light footed. This is not a thing that can be snatched as booty nor is it easy for every man that list to get the same. It must be done with great counsel and performed with no small provision. Know you not that the maid’s father is the noblest man in Delphi? Do you not remember that the laws appoint death as penalty for such deeds as these?’ ‘It matters not if I died,’ quoth he, ‘after I had my will of Chariclea. But if you think it good, let us go to her father and desire her of him to be wife; for I am worthy enough to be Charicles’ kinsman.’ ‘We shall not prevail with him,’ said I. ‘Not that he can find any fault in you, but he hath long ago promised her in marriage to his sister’s son.’ ‘He shall repent it,’ said he, ‘whoever he be. While I live, no other man shall wed Chariclea. This hand of mine is not yet benumbed, nor my sword so blunt.’ ‘Be content,’ said I: ‘we shall have no need of any of 115 these things. Be only ruled by me, and do as I command you. For the moment depart, and take heed that you be not espied talking with me often; when you come, come privily and alone.’ At that he went away very sad.

The next day Charicles met me, and as soon as he saw me, he ran to me and kissed my cheeks often times, continually crying: ‘Of such force is your wisdom and friendship. You have brought a great business to pass. She is taken now that was hard to be won; she that was before invincible is now subdued. Chariclea is in love.’ I began to wag my head at this, and knit my brows, and walk proudly, and said there was no doubt that she would not be able to abide my first assault, seeing that as yet I had used nothing great upon her. ‘But tell me, Charicles,’ quoth I, ‘how you perceived that she was in love?’ ‘When I had gotten very trusty physicians,’ replied he, ‘as you gave me counsel, I brought them to her, promising them all the riches I had if they could cure her. As soon as they came in to her, they asked what her disease was, and where the pain held her. She turned her face from them and answered them not a word, but repeated with a loud voice this verse of Homer —

“Achilles is the bravest man of all the Greekish rout.” Acestinus, a wise man — perhaps you know him — took her wrist in his hand, although against her will, and seemed to judge her disease by the beating of her pulse, which declareth, I suppose, the state of the heart. After he had felt her pulse a good while, and had looked her carefully up and down, he said: “Charicles, you have brought us here in vain; physic can do her no good.” “O God,” cried I: “why say you so, must my daughter die without all hope of recovery?’’ “Make not such ado,” said he, ‘but 116 listen to me.” And then, when were in a corner, so that neither the maid nor any other could hear us, he said: “Our art doth profess the caring of distempered bodies, and not principally of the diseased mind, but only when it is afflicted with the body, so that when that is healed, then is it also cured. The maid in truth is sick but not in body; for no humour aboundeth, the head ache vexeth her not, no ague burneth her, nor is any part or parcel of her body grieved. You may account this, and nothing else, to be true.” I earnestly begged him, if he had noticed anything further in her, to tell me. “Doth not even a child know,” quoth he, “that love is an affection of the heart and a sort of sickness? There is naught that ails her inward body, but do you not see that her eyes are swollen, her looks distraught, and that she is pale in her face? Besides, she raveth and uttereth whatsoever cometh into her mind, and lieth awake without a cause, and hath suddenly lost the just amplitude of her limbs. You must find her the man for whom she yearneth; he is the only one, Charicles, who can cure her.” When he had said this, he departed. So I have come in haste to you, my saviour and my god, whom both I and she acknowledge to be alone able to help us. For when I desired and often besought her to tell me what she ailed, she made me this answer, that she knew not what disease she had and that none but Calasiris, she was persuaded, could cure her; and therefore she begged me to call you to her. Whence I guessed that your wisdom it was that had brought her under.’ ‘Can you,’ said I to Charicles, ‘tell whom she loveth, as well as that she is in love?’ ’No, by Apollo,’ said he; ’for how or by what means should I know that? Marry, I would above all things that she loved Alcamenes my sister’s son, whom, 117 as much as lieth in me, I have appointed to be her husband.’ ‘You might try,’ said I, ‘and bring him in, and show him to her.’ He liked my counsel well, and went his way.

Later about midday, meeting me again he said: ‘You shall hear a sad and pitiful thing. My daughter seemeth to be out of her wits, such a strange infirmity hath she. I brought in Alcamenes, as you bade me, and showed him to her very freshly apparelled. But she, as though she had seen the Gorgon’s head or something yet more terrible, cried out with a loud voice, and turned her face to the other part of the chamber, and put her hand to her throat instead of a halter, and threatened that she would kill herself, and bound it with an oath too, if we dispatched not ourselves out of the chamber quickly. We went from her in less time than she spake the words: for what could we do, seeing so fearful a sight? Now I come to beseech you again, that you will neither suffer her to perish nor me to be frustrated of my desire.’ ‘O Charicles,’ said I, ‘you said truly that your daughter was distraught. She is indeed distracted by those powers of no mean strength that I have sent upon her, which, as it seemeth, force her to do that which both by nature and determination of mind she abhorred. Some god, methinketh, has taken upon himself to hinder this business and to strive against my ministers. Wherefore it is time you showed me the wrapping which you said was found with her together with the other tokens. I fear that it be enchanted and wrought with such signs as do now vex her mind, by reason that some enemy did lay this snare for her at the beginning, that she should be estranged from all love and die without issue.’ He agreed to what I said, and within a while brought 118 me the wrapping. I asked him to give me a space, and when he agreed I took it to my lodging, and delaying not a whit began to read what was written thereon. It was in Ethiopian letters, not the common sort, but such as their princes use, like to those that the Egyptians call hieratic, and this was what I read therein —

“Persina, Queen of the Ethiopians, to her daughter by travail, by whatsoever name she shall be called, writes in haste the lamentation contained herein, as her last gift.” — I was amazed, Cnemon, when I heard Persina’s name. But I read that which followed, which was this — “My daughter, the Sun, who is author of our race, is witness that it was not because of any misdeed that I have cast thee forth and concealed thee from they father Hydaspes’ sight. Yet, my daughter, I would have myself excused to thee, if thou dost happen to live, and to him who shall find thee, if God do so provide, and to all men; and therefore now I declare the cause of thy exposure. Our ancestors are, among the gods, the Sun and Bacchus: among heroes, Perseus, Andromeda and Memnon. Those who built our royal palace at various seasons adorned the walls with paintings of their various exploits, and with their limned figures decked the guest chambers and the porticoes therein, while the king’s bridal chamber is garnished with pictures containing the loves of Perseus and Andromeda. In that chamber, after Hydaspes had been married to me ten years and we had never a child, we happened to be resting one summer day, for that we were drowsy with the fierce heat. And it was then that your father had to do with me, swearing that by a dream he was commanded so to do; and I by and by perceived myself to be with child. All the time after until I was 119 delivered was kept as a public festival and sacrifices of thanksgiving were offered to the gods, for that the king hoped now to have one to succeed him in his kingdom. But thou wert born white, which colour is strange among the Ethiopians. I knew the reason, that it was because, while my husband had to do with me, I was looking at the picture of Andromeda brought down by Perseus naked from the rock, and so by mishap engendered presently a thing like to her. But counting it certain that thy colour would procure me to be accused of adultery, and that none would believe me when I told them the cause, I determined to rid myself of shameful death and to commit thee to the unstableness of fortune, which was a thing far to be preferred to present death or to be called a bastard. Telling my husband therefore that thou wert straightway dead, I have privily laid thee forth with the greatest riches that I had, as a reward for him who shall find thee and take thee up. And besides those other things I have wrapped thee in this band, wherein is contained the story of both our fortunes, which I have written with tears and blood that I have shed for thee, since I have thee and fell into much sorrow for thee at one and the same time. But oh my sweet child, that wert but for a small while my daughter, if thou live, remember thy noble parentage, and love chastity, which is the sure sign of womanly virtue and queenly mind, and follow thy parents by keeping the same. Above all things remember that thou seek for a certain ring among the jewels that are about thee, which thy father gave me when we were first betrothed, in the hoop whereof is the king’s secret token and the stone is a Pantarbe consecrated with secret virtues. These things I have said to thee, making this writing my messenger, since 120 God has taken from me the power to tell thee them to thy face. It may perchance be useless and void of effect, but also it may be profitable hereafter: for no man knoweth what uncertain fortune will bring. To be short, what I have written, O my daughter, beautiful in vain, who by thy beauty hath brought me blame, if thou live, shall be a token to thee of thy birth. But if thou die — which God Grant I never hear — it shall serve as thy mother’s lamentation at thy grave.”

After I had read this, Cnemon, I knew who she was, and marvelled greatly at the governance of the gods, and was full of pleasure and sorrow, and altogether strangely affected, weeping and laughing at once. My mind was glad for the knowing of that whereof I was ignorant before, and for the discovery of the oracle’s meaning, but it was very much troubled for that which was to come and had great pity and compassion for the life of man, as a thing very unstable and weak and bending every way; which thing I then knew especially by Chariclea’s fortune. I thought of many things, of what parents she was come, whose child she was thought to be, how far she was from her country, and was now called daughter by a false name having lost her natural country soil and royal blood of Ethiopia. To make few words, I was a great while in study, since I had good cause to pity and bewail her past state, and yet durst not commend that which was to come. But at last, bringing back my thoughts to sober facts, I concluded that it was not good now to delay the matter but rather with speed to execute that which I had begun.

I went then to Chariclea and found her alone, altogether wearied with love and still striving to withstand her fancy. Marry, her body was much 121 afflicted, by reason that it yielded to her infirmity and she was not able with any force to withstand the violence thereof. After I had sent them away who were with her and given them charge that they should make no noise, under pretence that I had some prayers and invocations to make about the maid, I said to her: ‘Now is the time come, Chariclea, — for so you promised me yesterday — to tell me your grief, and not to conceal it any longer from a man that loveth you heartily and can know it, even if you hold your tongue.’ She took me by the hand and kissed it, and therewithal she wept, and said: ‘Wise Calasiris, since you seem to know my disease, grant me one favour. Suffer me to hold my peace and be unhappy, gaining this much at least, that I hide my shame and conceal that which to suffer is evil but to utter is worse. Although my increasing disease doth much grieve me, yet this grieveth me more, that at the first I overcame it not but yielded to love, a thing which even to speak of doth defile the honorable name of virginity.’ With that I comforted her and said: ‘My daughter, you do well for two reasons to conceal your state. I have no need to be told that which by skill I knew already. And not without cause do you blush to utter that which it becometh women to keep secret. But because thou hast once tasted of love and Theagenes hath subdued thee — for thus am I by divine inspiration informed — know that neither art thou alone nor yet the first that hath been thus affected. Many other noble women and many maidens in all things very chaste have tasted hereof as well as you. For Love is the greatest of the gods, and is said even sometimes to overcome the gods themselves. Now you must consider how you may best order your business. Not to be in love at all is a kind of happiness; but 122 when you are taken, to use it moderately is a point of excellent wisdom. Which thing you may well do, if you will believe me, by putting away the filthy name of lust, and embracing the lawful bond of wedlock, and turning your disease into matrimony.’

When I had said this, Cnemon, she was in a great sweat, and it was plain that she was glad of what she heard, and greatly in fear and much troubled for what she hoped; and moreover she waxed red to think in what manner she was taken. After she had waited a good while: ‘Father,’ said she, ‘you speak of marriage and bid me embrace it, as though it were plain that either my father would be content therewith or mine enemy want it.’ ‘As for the young man,’ said I, ‘there is no doubt. He is more in love than you, being moved by the same reasons, since both your minds, as it seems, at the first sight knew one another’s excellency and fell into a like affection, while I myself have made his love the greater to do you pleasure. But he who is supposed to be your father provides you with another husband, Alcamenes, whom you know well enough.’ ‘Let him,’ quoth she, ‘rather seek to lay him in his grave than marry him to me. Either Theagenes shall have me, or that which is destined for all shall receive me. But I pray you, tell me how you know that Charicles is not my father in truth, but only supposed so to be.’ ‘By this,’ said I; and therewithal I showed her the wrapping. ‘Where had you that, or how came you by it?’ said she. ‘After he had received me in Egypt from him who brought me up, he carried me hither I know not how, and took that from me, and kept it in a chest, that it might not by continuance of time be spoiled.’ ‘How I came by it,’ said I, ‘you shall hear afterward. But tell me now, if you can, what is contained therein.’ 123 When she told me that she could not, ‘It declareth,’ said I, ‘your parents, your country, and all your fortune.’ Then she begged me that I would tell her what I knew, and I told her all, reading it word by word and interpreting it to her.

After she knew her birth and had taken stomach unto her, she drew more near her true pedigree and said: ‘What must we do?’ I told her plainly all my plan and made her privy to every point. ‘I, my daughter,’ said I, ‘went once into Ethiopia to learn of their wisdom, and was well acquainted with your mother Persina; for the king’s court is a place where all wise men resort. Marry, I had a little praise the more, because I joined the wisdom of Egypt and of Ethiopia together, which made me of the more credit. When she understood that I was returning to my country, she told me all your affairs, binding me first by oath to keep it secret, and said moreover that she durst not tell the wise men of that country. She desired me to ask the gods, first, whether after your exposure you lived; then, in what country you were. For she could hear of none such as you in Ethiopia, although she had made diligent inquiry. I learned all of the gods, both that you were alive and where you were living. Then she besought me that I would seek you out and urge you to return to your country. For she said, she lived without issue and children by reason of her great grief for you and she was now ready to confess all to your father, if you at any time came to light, and she knew that he would be persuaded, both because of the long experience he had of her and also of the great desire and joy he would have in one to succeed him contrary to his expectation. This she said and begged me to do, by the oath that I had sworn by the sun, which may not be violated by any of the 124 wise men. To perform that oath I came hither, although I took not this voyage for that cause only, accounting it by the will of the gods an advantage gotten in my long journey. I have been busy about this for long and have left no convenient service to you undone. But I told you not of the matter since I was waiting for a just opportunity, and also by some means to get the wrapping that I might have due proof of my tale. Therefore, if you consent, you may go away now with us, before you suffer anything you would not from the violence of Charicles, who is providing very busily to match you with Alcamenes. Then you will recover your kindred, your country, and your parents, and dwell with Theagenes, who is ready to follow us into whatsoever country we will, and will leave a foreign bastard life for one that is natural and princely, ruling as queen together with your dear lover, if we may believe the gods, and especially the oracle of Apollo.’ With that I brought the oracle into her remembrance and declared to her what it meant, she already knowing thereof before, inasmuch as it was in every man’s mouth and hotly debated. At this she was moved and — ‘Father,’ quoth she, ‘since you say the gods will it so and I believe no less, what must we do?’ ‘You must make,’ said I, ‘as though you were content to marry Alcamenes.’ ‘That is a hard thing,’ she replied, ‘and scarcely seemly, even in word to prefer any man before Theagenes. But inasmuch as I have put myself, father, into the hands of the gods and you, tell me now the purpose of this design, and how it may be undone before it be brought to effect.’ ‘The issue will teach you,’ said I. ‘Many things, told beforehand to women, have greatly hindered the matter in hand: which, being suddenly put into practise, are for the most part by 125 them more boldly achieved. Only follow my counsel both now and at other times, and be content to allow the marriage that Charicles provides for you, remembering that he will do nothing without my counsel and guidance.’ She made promise so to do; and I went my way, and left her weeping.

Scarcely was I gone out of her chamber when I saw Charicles, very sad and full of sorrow. ‘Good sir,’ said I, ‘you should rejoice, and be glad, and do sacrifice of thanksgiving to the gods. You have gotten that which you have long desired. Chariclea by my much skill and manifold wisdom has been made content to take a husband. But you are sad and heavy, and can scarce refrain from tears, I know not why.’ ‘Why should I not be sad?’ said he. ‘My dearest daughter will be carried off into another country before she is wedded, as you said, if we may give credit both to other dreams and especially to that which I had this night. Methought that an eagle, let fly out of Apollo’s hand, came down, took my daughter out of my arms, and carried her into I know not what far country, which was black and full of ugly shadows. What he did with her I could not tell, since his flight and the infinite distance of space between us took away the sight of mine eyes.’

As soon as he said this I knew whereto his dream tended. But that I might withdraw him from this despair of mind and bring him far from suspicion of what should come to pass, I said: ‘Sir priest, although you are the servant of the most prophetic of the gods, you seem to me to judge not aright respecting this vision. It foreshoweth to you the marriage of your daughter, and doth secretly signify by the eagle that a husband shall take her, and that Apollo will bring him to her with his own hand. And yet you seem to 126 be angry and construe your dream worse than it is meant. Wherefore, Charicles, let us be content and help the purpose of the gods by labouring in every way to persuade the maid.’ He asked me what was best to be done, that the maid might be more obedient. ‘If,’ quoth I, ‘you have any precious thing in store, or apparel wrought with gold, or jewels of price, bring them to her, as tokens from her spouse, and appease her with gifts; for gold and precious stones are for women like a magic charm. You must provide everything ready for the solemnity and perform the marriage at once, while her desire therefor, which is wrought by art against her will, remains stable and unchanged.’ ‘Think that I will omit nothing that I can do,’ said Charicles; and with that he went home rejoicing and made haste to put words into action. He did indeed, as I perceived afterward, all that I commanded, bringing to her costly garments and also the jewels of Ethiopia which Persina set forth with Chariclea that she might know who she was, pretending forsooth that they were bridal gifts from Alcamenes.

I for my part went to find Theagenes and asked him where his friends were who had made the pomp with him. ‘The maids,’ quoth he, ‘are gone away already that they may take the easier journey: the young men also will tarry no longer, but make much ado and prepare to return to their country.’ When I heard this I told him what he should say to them and do himself, and gave him charge to wait until I showed him the time and the occasion. And so I left him and went to the temple of Apollo, to pray the god that he would instruct me concerning my flight with the young couple. But the god was quicker than any man would think, who helpeth those that act according to his will, even though he be not called upon, and 127 preventeth their prayers with the readiness of his good will: as even then it happened that he prevented my question with the answer and did in deed declare his help and guidance. For as I went to seek the prophetess, anxious for the performance of that which I had determined, a voice stopped me as I went by, which said: ‘Come, good friend, quick and join us: we who are strangers here invite thee.’ And indeed there was a company there making a sacrificial banquet with music in honour of Hercules. I stopped when I heard the words; for I might not go past when God had called me. I took some frankincense therefore and offered it, and made a libation of water, and although they seemed to wonder at the simplicity of my sacrifice, yet they desired me to take part in their banquet. I did so, and after I had sat down on a bench which they strewed with myrtle and laurel for strangers, and had eaten as I am accustomed to do, I said unto them: ‘Good fellows, I thank you for this good cheer. But I am utterly ignorant of your estate: wherefore it is time that ye tell me who you are and whence you come. For it is an unseemly and very rude thing that those who have done sacrifice and banquetted together and made holy meat the beginning of friendship should depart without either knowing the other’s affairs.’ They told me then that they were merchants of Tyre in Phoenicia, and that they were sailing to Carthage in Africa, their ship freighted with merchandise from India, Ethiopia, and Phoenicia. At that moment they were making a feast to the Tyrian Hercules for a victory just gotten, inasmuch as this young man, said they, pointing to one who sat beside me, has gained the prize for wrestling and proved that a Tyrian may win the victory in the midst of Greeks. 128 ‘For he,’ said they, ‘after we had sailed past Malea, and by force of tempest were constrained to land at the island of Cephalenia, swore unto us by our country’s god that in his sleep it was told him that he should obtain the victory in these games of Apollo. And when he had persuaded us to turn from our intended course and land here, he made proof by his deeds that his prophecy was true, so that now he is proclaimed as a famous victor, who was but late a merchant, and is offering this sacrifice to the god who was his conductor, both as a thanksgiving for his victory and as a prayer for a prosperous voyage. And to-morrow, if the wind serve, we shall leave this coast.’ ‘Have you in truth determined this?’ said I. ‘Yea, verily,’ answered they. ‘You shall then, if you please,’ I said, ‘have my company. For I have a voyage to make to Sicily for a certain reason, and you sailing to Africa must pass by it.’ ‘You shall be welcome,’ quoth they, ‘if you will come; for we think we shall want for nothing good if we have with us a wise man, and a Grecian, and one who by experience is proved to be well beloved of the gods.’ ‘I would,’ said I, ‘that you will grant me one day, to make my provision.’ ‘You shall have to-morrow,’ they said, ‘on condition that by evening we be on the sea; for we commonly sail by night, since the winds that blow then from the land do calmly fill our sails.’ I made bargain that I would do so, binding them first by oath that they should not depart before the promised time was expired.

So I left them there piping and dancing after the manner of the Assyrians, sometimes leaping aloft, sometimes bending their body downward, and writhing themselves as if they were inspired by some god. Next I went to Chariclea, and found her holding in 129 her lap the jewels that Charicles gave her and gazing upon them. And then I went to Theagenes; and when I had told them both what they should do I returned to my lodging and waited for what should be next. On the morrow this was what happened. About midnight, when all the city was fast asleep, a crew of armed young men came to the house of Chariclea. The captain of this amorous war was Theagenes, who after their brave pomp had thus taught his youth to play the soldiers. Those who heard them were frightened by the great clamour they made, and by the clashing of their shields, as with blazing torches they burst into the house. They lifted the door away easily — for it had been provided before that it should not be very hard barred — and carried Chariclea out, finding her already well prepared, since she knew hereof before, and ready with good will to suffer this assault; taking away also a great deal of stuff, such as the maid commanded. After they had left her lodging, they sounded a war-like cry and made a terrible noise with their harness, and so passed through the city, casting the inhabitants thereof into a wonderful panic: and indeed they had chosen the dead of night for this very reason, that they might be the more afraid. Parnassus re-echoed the din of their clashing bronze; and so they passed through Delphi, shouting loudly one to another the name of Chariclea.

When they had got out of the city, they hied them on horseback, as fast as they could, into the mountains of Oeta in Locris. But Theagenes and Chariclea, as had been arranged before, left their company, and came back to me privily, and fell trembling at my feet, and clasped my knees, and still cried: ‘Save us, father.’ Chariclea said no more, 130 but held down her head, as though she were ashamed of what she had done. But Theagenes said: ‘Save us, Calasiris; for we are strangers and homeless supplicants, who have lost everything that we might win ourselves save our bodies, committed now to fortune and bond servants to chaste love. Save us who by our own glad consent are banished and set our one hope of safety in you.’ I was moved hereat, and after I had wept over the young couple — rather with my heart than with mine eyes, so that they perceived it not and yet it eased my grief — I comforted and emboldened them, bidding them hope for a happy end, since the matter was begun by the will and counsel of the gods. ‘As for me,’ quoth I, ‘I will go and dispatch the rest of our business. Tarry you for me in this place, and take diligent heed that no man espy you.’ When I had said this I was going away, but Chariclea caught me by the coat, and held me fast, and said: ‘Nay, father, this is an unfair, or rather a traitorous beginning, if you go away and leave me alone with Theagenes, not considering how unmeet a lover is to lay the guardian, if it be in his power to enjoy that which he loveth, and there be no man there to make him ashamed thereof. He burns the more fiercely, methinks, when he sees what he desires without any defence before him. Wherefore I will not let you depart before I am assured, both for the present and the future, by an oath of Theagenes that he will not fleshly have to do with me until I have recovered my country and parents; or if the gods grant me not that, at least until by mine own free will I consent that he shall marry me. Otherwise never.’ I admired her words, and determined it should be so, and lit a fire upon the altar, and burned frankincense. Theagenes said that he was being 131 wrongly used, since the faith which he had determined in his mind to keep was taken away by reason of his oath, and that he could not now show that he was acting willingly inasmuch as he would seem to be compelled by a stronger power. Still he took an oath by Apollo of Delphi, and Diana, and Venus herself, and all the gods of love that he would in all things do as Chariclea wished and enjoined.

This, and many other things, they concluded between themselves, calling the gods as witnesses thereto. I went as fast as I could to Charicles and found all his house in a hurly-burly and turmoil. His servants had come and told him of the taking away of the maid, and the citizens stood round about him in heaps, while he himself lamented sore. In a word, for ignorance of what had been done and want of counsel as to what they should do now, they were at their wits’ end. Then began I with my big voice to thunder and say: ‘Ye unhappy people, how long will you sit still, dumb like stocks, as though your wits also were taken away by your ill fortune? Why do you not in armour pursue your enemies? Will you not take and punish those who have done you this wrong?’ ‘It is in vain perchance,’ said Charicles, ‘to strive against this present fortune. I understand well that I am thus punished because of the anger of the gods, which was foreshowed me, since I went in an unlucky time into the privy chapel and saw there that which was not lawful to be seen. As a punishment therefor I was told that I should lose that which I set most store by. But there is no impediment, as the proverb has it, even against a god to fight, if only we knew whom to pursue or who hath done us this mischief.’ ‘That is Theagenes the Thessalian,’ said I, ‘whom you praised so much and made my friend, 132 and the young men who were with him. You may perhaps find some one of them still in the city, who hath waited here till this evening. Wherefore arise and call the people to council.’ So was it done: the captains appointed a meeting, proclaiming the same by trumpet in the city; the people straightway came together; the theatre was made a court by night. Charicles came forward and by his very aspect roused the multitude at once to lamentation; for he was clad in black raiment, and had poured dust and ashes over his head and face. ‘Men of Delphi,’ said he, ‘perhaps you suppose, considering the greatness of my miseries, that I have come hither and gathered this multitude of people to utter mine own mishaps unto you. But it is not so. I suffer indeed such things as may be compared with death itself, and at this present time my house is desolate and destroyed by the gods, solitary and robbed of what I held most dear. Yet the common frustration and vain hope of all doth comfort me a little and giveth me some courage suggesting that I may yet recover my daughter again. And our city moveth me even more, which I desire and look shall be victorious first and take revenge on those that have wronged her. Unless indeed these Thessalian youths have robbed us also of our lofty courage and the just indignation we should fell for our country and our country’s gods. For it is altogether intolerable that a few dancing boys, sent on a sacred message, should go away after they have wasted the most noble city of Greece and taken out of Apollo’s temple the most precious jewel thereof, Chariclea, which also was my life. O implacable and too obstinate anger of God against us! First, as you know, it killed my natural daughter on the day of her marriage, and then her mother also from sorrow at 133 her death, and banished me from my native country. But all that was tolerable after I had found Chariclea. Chariclea was my life, my hope, and the stay of my stock. Chariclea was my only comfort, and, so to say, my anchor. And now this tempest and evil fortune — whatever it be that hath now come upon me — hath taken her from me. Neither hath it done this simply or by chance, but as it is wont to triumph over me with the utmost cruelty, it hath taken her almost from her marriage bed, inasmuch as the day of her wedding was already spread abroad among you all.’

As he thus spake and so lamented, quite carried away by grief, the captain Hegesias bade him be content and get him away, saying: ‘You men that be here, Charicles will have time enough to lament hereafter. But let us not be drowned by his sorrow, nor carried away, as with a great stream of water, by his tears, letting pass the due occasion, which, as in all things, so in war is of the greatest force. For if we leave this assembly now and pursue at once, there is some hope that we shall overtake our enemies, who now travel without care, knowing us to be unprovided. But if lamenting, or rather like women bewailing, by our tarrying we give them time to escape, we shall deserve nothing but to be scorned, and that even by these striplings themselves: who I say ought to be impaled as soon as they be taken and some of them ignominiously dealt with, so that their punishment redound also on their families. This may easily be done if we move the Thessalians to displeasure against these that have fled, and their posterity, by forbidding them to take any part hereafter in their holy embassy and in the hero’s funeral sacrifice, and by decreeing that it shall be done at the cost of our common treasury.’ When this had been approved of the people and by 134 their decree established: ‘Let this also,’ said the captain, ‘if it please you, be ratified by your voices, that the temple priestess no longer give the torch to those that run in armour. For as I think, therefrom grew the beginning of this impiety in Theagenes, who thought of this rape, it may be deemed, ever since he first saw her. It is well therefore to take away the occasion of such like attempts hereafter.’ After this was ratified by the votes and hands of all that were present, Hegesias gave the signal to go forth and proclaimed war by sound of trumpet, so that all the theatre was dissolved into battle, and every man ran from the council to arms, not only the strong men and such as were able to wear armour, but boys even and some that were scarce striplings, making good by readiness their lack of years and boldly venturing to take their share in the expedition. Many women also behaved themselves more stoutly than their nature allows, and snatching up any weapon that came next to hand, followed vainly with the rest, only recognising the weakness of their sex when they found themselves in action left behind. You might have seen old men too striving with their age, the mind drawing the body and in ardent desire for battle reproaching it for its weakness as a disgrace. So great grief took the city for the rape of Chariclea, and all the people, as if moved by one sorrow, without waiting for the dawn hastened forth together in pursuit.

Further corrections in the online edition by S. Rhoads © 2006


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