E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Niobe (3 syl.).
The personification of female sorrow. According to Grecian fable, Niobe was the mother of twelve children, and taunted Latona because she had only twonamely, Apollo and Diana. Latona commanded her children to avenge the insult, and they caused all the sons and daughters of Niobe to die. Niobe was inconsolable, wept herself to death, and was changed into a stone, from which ran water. Like Niobe, all tears (Hamlet.)
The group of Niobe and her children, in Florence, was discovered at Rome in 1583, and was the work either of Scopas or Praxiteles.
The Niobe of nations. So Lord Byron styles Rome, the lone mother of dead empires, with broken thrones and temples; a chaos of ruins; a desert where we steer stumbling oer recollections. (Childe Harold, canto iv. stanza 79.)