Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Tartarus and the Styx
By Hesiod (fl. Eighth Century B.C.)
From the ‘Theogony’: Translation of Charles Abraham Elton

Of subterraneous gods there in the front
Ascend, of mighty Pluto and his queen
Awful Persephone. A grisly dog,
Implacable, holds watch before the gates;        5
Of guile malicious. Them who enter there,
With tail and bended ears he fawning soothes;
But suffers not that they with backward step
Repass: whoe’er would issue from the gates
Of Pluto strong, and stern Persephone,        10
For them with marking eye he lurks; on them
Springs from his couch, and pitiless devours.
  There, odious to immortals, dreadful Styx
Inhabits, refluent Ocean’s eldest born:
She from the gods apart for ever dwells        15
In mansions known to fame, with arching roofs
O’erhung, of loftiest rock, and all around
The silver columns lean upon the skies.
  Swift-footed Iris, nymph of Thaumas born,
Takes with no frequent embassy her way        20
O’er the broad main’s expanse, when haply strife
Be risen, and ’midst the gods dissension sown.
And if there be among th’ Olympian race
Who falsehood utters, Jove sends Iris down,
To bear from far in ewer of gold the wave        25
Renowned; that from the summit of a rock
Steep, lofty, cold distills. Beneath wide Earth
Abundant from the sacred parent flood,
Through shades of blackest night, the Stygian branch
Of Ocean flows; a tenth of all the streams        30
To the dread oath allotted. In nine streams,
Round and around earth and the ocean broad
With silver whirlpools mazy-rolled, at length
It falls into the main; one stream alone
Glides from the rock, a mighty bane to gods.        35
Who of immortals that inhabit still
Olympus topt with snow, libation pours
And is forsworn, he one whole year entire
Lies reft of breath, nor yet approaches once
The nectared and ambrosial sweet repast;        40
But still reclines on the spread festive couch,
Mute, breathless; and a mortal lethargy
O’erwhelms him; but, his malady absolved
With the great round of the revolving year,
More ills on ills afflictive seize: nine years        45
From ever-living deities remote
His lot is cast; in council nor in feast
Once joins he, till nine years entire are full;
The tenth again he mingles with the blest
In synod, who th’ Olympian mansions hold.        50
So great an oath the deities of heaven
Decreed the waters incorruptible,
Ancient, of Styx.

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