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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 Psalm of Adonis
By Theocritus (fl. Third Century B.C.)
 
Translation of Andrew Lang

O QUEEN that lovest Golgi, and Idalium, and the steep of Eryx! O Aphrodite that playest with gold! lo, from the stream eternal of Acheron they have brought back to thee Adonis—even in the twelfth month they have brought him, the dainty-footed Hours. Tardiest of the Immortals are the beloved Hours; but dear and desired they come, for always to all mortals they bring some gift with them. O Cypris, daughter of Dione, from mortal to immortal, so men tell, thou hast changed Berenice, dropping softly in the woman’s breast the stuff of immortality.  1
  Therefore, for thy delight, O thou of many names and many temples, doth the daughter of Berenice, even Arsinoë, lovely as Helen, cherish Adonis with all things beautiful.  2
  Before him lie all ripe fruits that the tall trees’ branches bear: and the delicate gardens, arrayed in baskets of silver, and the golden vessels, are full of incense of Syria. And all the dainty cakes that women fashion in the kneading-tray, mingling blossoms manifold with the white wheaten flour, all that is wrought of honey sweet, and in soft olive oil, all cakes fashioned in the semblance of things that fly and of things that creep,—lo, here they are set before him.  3
  Here are built for him shadowy bowers of green, all laden with tender anise; and children flit overhead—the little Loves—as the young nightingales perched upon the trees fly forth and try their wings from bough to bough.  4
  Oh, the ebony; oh, the gold; oh, the twin eagles of white ivory that carry to Zeus the son of Cronos his darling, his cupbearer! Oh, the purple coverlet strown above, more soft than sleep! So Miletus will say, and whoso feeds sheep in Samos.  5
  Another bed is strown for beautiful Adonis, one bed Cypris keeps, and one the rosy-armed Adonis. A bridegroom of eighteen or nineteen years is he; his kisses are not rough, the golden down being yet upon his lips! And now, good-night to Cypris in the arms of her lover! But lo, in the morning we will all of us gather with the dew, and carry him forth among the waves that break upon the beach; and with locks unloosed, and ungirt raiment falling to the ankles, and bosoms bare, we will begin our shrill sweet song.  6
  Thou only, dear Adonis, so men tell,—thou only of the demigods dost visit both this world and the stream of Acheron. For Agamemnon had no such lot; nor Aias, that mighty lord of the terrible anger; nor Hector, the eldest born of the twenty sons of Hecabe; nor Patroclus; nor Pyrrhus, that returned out of Troyland; nor the heroes of yet more ancient days, the Lapithæ and Deucalion’s sons; nor the sons of Pelops, and the chiefs of Pelasgian Argos. Be gracious now, dear Adonis, and propitious even in the coming year. Dear to us has thine advent been, Adonis, and dear shall it be when thou comest again.  7
 
  Gorgo—Praxinoë, the woman is cleverer than we fancied! Happy woman to know so much; thrice happy to have so sweet a voice. Well, all the same, it is time to be making for home. Diocleides has not had his dinner, and the man is all vinegar,—don’t venture near him when he is kept waiting for dinner. Farewell, beloved Adonis: may you find us glad at your next coming!  8
 
 
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