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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Idyl XV.
The Festival of Adonis
By Theocritus (fl. Third Century B.C.)
 
        
Translation of Andrew Lang
  
  [This famous idyl should rather, perhaps, be called a mimus. It describes the visit paid by two Syracusan women residing in Alexandria, to the festival of the resurrection of Adonis. The festival is given by Arsinoë, wife and sister of Ptolemy Philadelphus; and the poem cannot have been written earlier than his marriage, in 266? B.C. Nothing can be more gay and natural than the chatter of the women, which has changed no more in two thousand years than the song of birds.]

GORGO—Is Praxinoë at home?  1
  Praxinoë—Dear Gorgo, how long is it since you have been here? She is at home. The wonder is that you have got here at last. Eunoë, see that she has a chair. Throw a cushion on it too.  2
  Gorgo—It does most charmingly as it is.  3
  Praxinoë—Do sit down.  4
  Gorgo—Oh, what a thing spirit is! I have scarcely got to you alive, Praxinoë! What a huge crowd, what hosts of four-in-hands! Everywhere cavalry boots, everywhere men in uniform! And the road is endless: yes, you really live too far away!  5
  Praxinoë—It is all the fault of that madman of mine. Here he came to the ends of the earth and took—a hole, not a house, and all that we might not be neighbors. The jealous wretch! always the same, ever for spite!  6
  Gorgo—Don’t talk of your husband Dinon like that, my dear girl, before the little boy: look how he is staring at you! Never mind, Zopyrion, sweet child,—she is not speaking about papa.  7
  Praxinoë—Our Lady! the child takes notice.  8
  Gorgo—Nice papa!  9
  Praxinoë—That papa of his the other day—we call every day “the other day”—went to get soap and rouge at the shop, and back he came to me with salt—the great big endless fellow!  10
  Gorgo—Mine has the same trick too: a perfect spendthrift, Diocleides! Yesterday he got what he meant for five fleeces, and paid seven shillings apiece for—what do you suppose? dogskins, shreds of old leather wallets, mere trash—trouble on trouble. But come, take your cloak and shawl. Let us be off to the palace of rich Ptolemy the King, to see the Adonis: I hear the Queen has provided something splendid!  11
  Praxinoë—Fine folks do everything finely.  12
  Gorgo—What a tale you will have to tell about the things you have seen, to any one who has not seen them! It seems nearly time to go.  13
  Praxinoë—Idlers have always holiday. Eunoë, bring the water and put it down in the middle of the room, lazy creature that you are. Cats like always to sleep soft! Come, bustle, bring the water; quicker. I want water first; give it me all the same; don’t pour out so much, you extravagant thing. Stupid girl! why are you wetting my dress? There, stop, I have washed my hands, as heaven would have it. Where is the key of the big chest? Bring it here.  14
  Gorgo—Praxinoë, that full body becomes you wonderfully. Tell me, how much did the stuff cost you just off the loom?  15
  Praxinoë—Don’t speak of it, Gorgo! More than eight pounds in good silver money,—and the work on it! I nearly slaved my soul out over it!  16
  Gorgo—Well, it is most successful; all you could wish.  17
  Praxinoë—Thanks for the pretty speech! Bring my shawl, and set my hat on my head the fashionable way. No, child, I don’t mean to take you. Boo! Bogies! There’s a horse that bites! Cry as much as you please, but I cannot have you lamed. Let us be moving. Phrygia, take the child, and keep him amused; call in the dog, and shut the street door.
[They go into the street.]
  18
  Ye gods, what a crowd! How on earth are we ever to get through this coil? They are like ants that no one can measure or number. Many a good deed have you done, Ptolemy; since your father joined the immortals, there’s never a malefactor to spoil the passer-by, creeping on him in Egyptian fashion— Oh! the tricks those perfect rascals used to play. Birds of a feather, ill jesters, scoundrels all! Dear Gorgo, what will become of us? Here come the King’s war-horses! My dear man, don’t trample on me. Look, the bay’s rearing; see, what temper! Eunoë, you foolhardy girl, will you never keep out of the way? The beast will kill the man that’s leading him. What a good thing it is for me that my brat stays safe at home!  19
  Gorgo—Courage, Praxinoë. We are safe behind them now, and they have gone to their station.  20
  Praxinoë—There! I begin to be myself again. Ever since I was a child I have feared nothing so much as horses and the chilly snake. Come along: the huge mob is overflowing us.  21
  Gorgo  [to an old woman]—Are you from the court, mother?  22
  Old Woman—I am, my child.  23
  Praxinoë—Is it easy to get there?  24
  Old Woman—The Achæans got into Troy by trying, my prettiest of ladies. Trying will do everything in the long run.  25
  Gorgo—The old wife has spoken her oracles, and off she goes.  26
  Praxinoë—Women know everything, yes; and how Zeus married Hera!  27
  Gorgo—See, Praxinoë, what a crowd there is about the doors.  28
  Praxinoë—Monstrous, Gorgo! Give me your hand: and you, Eunoë, catch hold of Eutychis; never lose hold of her, for fear lest you get lost. Let us all go in together; Eunoë, clutch tight to me. Oh, how tiresome, Gorgo: my muslin veil is torn in two already! For heaven’s sake, sir, if you ever wish to be fortunate, take care of my shawl!  29
  Stranger—I can hardly help myself, but for all that I will be as careful as I can.  30
  Praxinoë—How close-packed the mob is! they hustle like a herd of swine.  31
  Stranger—Courage, lady: all is well with us now.  32
  Praxinoë—Both this year and for ever may all be well with you, my dear sir, for your care of us. A good kind man! We’re letting Eunoë get squeezed: come, wretched girl, push your way through. That is the way. We are all on the right side of the door, quoth the bridegroom, when he had shut himself in with his bride.  33
  Gorgo—Do come here, Praxinoë. Look first at these embroideries. How light and how lovely! You will call them the garments of the gods.  34
  Praxinoë—Lady Athene! what spinningwomen wrought them, what painters designed these drawings, so true they are? How naturally they stand and move, like living creatures, not patterns woven. What a clever thing is man! Ah, and himself—Adonis—how beautiful to behold he lies on his silver couch, with the first down on his cheeks, the thrice-beloved Adonis,—Adonis beloved even among the dead.  35
  A Stranger—You weariful women, do cease your endless cooing talk!—They bore one to death with their eternal broad vowels!  36
  Gorgo—Indeed! And where may this person come from? What is it to you if we are chatterboxes? Give orders to your own servants, sir. Do you pretend to command ladies of Syracuse? If you must know, we are Corinthians by descent, like Bellerophon himself, and we speak Peloponnesian. Dorian women may lawfully speak Doric, I presume?  37
  Praxinoë—Lady Persephone! never may we have more than one master. I am not afraid of your putting me on short commons.  38
  Gorgo—Hush, hush, Praxinoë: the Argive woman’s daughter, the great singer, is beginning the ‘Adonis’; she that won the prize last year for dirge-singing. I am sure she will give us something lovely; see, she is preluding with her airs and graces.  39
 
 
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