Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
The Twelfth Book of the Metamorphoses, wholly translated
Connection to the end of the Eleventh Book
  Æsacus, 1 the Son of Priam, loving a Country-Life, forsakes the Court: Living obscurely, he falls in Love with a Nymph; who, flying from him, was kill’d by a Serpent; for Grief of this, he would have drown’d himself; but, by the pity of the Gods, is turned into a Cormorant. Priam, not hearing of Æsacus, believes him to be dead, and raises a Tomb to preserve his Memory. By this Transition, which is one of the finest in all Ovid, the Poet naturally falls into the Story of the Trojan War, which is summ’d up, in the present Book, but so very briefly, in many Places, that Ovid seems more short than Virgil, contrary to his usual Style. Yet the House of Fame, which is here describ’d, is one of the most beautiful Pieces in the whole Metamorphoses. The Fight of Achilles and Cygnus, and the Fray betwixt the Lapythæ and Centaurs, yield to no other part of this Poet: And particularly the Loves and Death of Cyllarus and Hylonome, the Male and Female Centaur, are wonderfully moving

Priam, to whom the Story was unknown,
As dead, deplor’d his Metamorphos’d Son:
A Cenotaph his Name and Title kept,
And Hector round the Tomb, with all his Brothers wept.
  This pious Office Paris did not share;        5
Absent alone; and Author of the War,
Which, for the Spartan Queen, the Grecians drew
T’ avenge the Rape, and Asia to subdue.
  A thousand Ships were man’d, to sail the Sea:
Nor had their just Resentments found delay,        10
Had not the Winds and Waves oppos’d their way.
At Aulis, with United Pow’rs they meet,
But there, Cross-winds or Calms detain’d the Fleet.
  Now, while they raise an Altar on the Shore,
And Jove with solemn Sacrifice adore;        15
A boding Sign the Priests and People see:
A Snake of size immense, ascends a Tree,
And in the leafy Summet, spy’d a Neast,
Which, o’er her Callow young, a Sparrow press’d.
Eight were the Birds unfledg’d; their Mother flew;        20
And hover’d round her Care; but still in view:
Till the fierce Reptile first devour’d the Brood;
Then siez’d the flutt’ring Dam, and drunk her Blood.
This dire Ostent, the fearful People view;
Calchas alone, by Phœbus taught, foreknew        25
What Heav’n decreed: and with a smiling Glance,
Thus gratulates to Greece her happy Chance.
O Argives, we shall Conquer; Troy is ours,
But long Delays shall first afflict our Pow’rs:
Nine Years of Labour, the nine Birds portend;        30
The Tenth shall in the Town’s Destruction end.
  The Serpent, who his Maw obscene had fill’d,
The Branches in his curl’d Embraces held:
But as in Spires he stood, he turn’d to Stone:
The stony Snake retain’d the Figure still his own.        35
  Yet not for this the Wind-bound Navy weigh’d,
Slack were their Sails; and Neptune disobey’d.
Some thought him loath the Town shou’d be destroy’d,
Whose Building had his Hands divine employ’d:
Not so the Seer; who knew, and known foreshow’d,        40
The Virgin Phœbe with a Virgin’s Blood
Must first be reconcil’d; the common Cause
Prevail’d; and Pity yielding to the Laws,
Fair Iphigenia the devoted Maid
Was, by the weeping Priests, in Linnen-Robes array’d;        45
All mourn her Fate; but no Relief appear’d:
The Royal Victim bound, the Knife already rear’d:
When that offended Pow’r, who caus’d their Woe,
Relenting ceas’d her Wrath; and stop’d the coming Blow.
A Mist before the Ministers she cast;        50
And, in the Virgin’s room, a Hind she plac’d.
Th’ Oblation slain, and Phœbe reconcil’d,
The Storm was hush’d, and dimpled Ocean smil’d:
A favourable Gale arose from Shore,
Which to the Port desir’d the Grecian Gallies bore.        55
  Full in the midst of this Created Space,
Betwixt Heav’n, Earth, and Skies, there stands a Place,
Confining on all three; with triple Bound;
Whence all Things, though remote, are view’d around;
And thither bring their Undulating Sound.        60
The Palace of loud Fame; her Seat of Pow’r;
Plac’d on the Summet of a lofty Tow’r;
A thousand winding Entries long and wide,
Receive of fresh Reports a flowing Tide.
A thousand Crannies in the Walls are made;        65
Nor Gate nor Bars exclude the busy Trade.
’Tis built of Brass the better to diffuse
The spreading Sounds, and multiply the News:
Where Eccho’s in repeated Eccho’s play:
A Mart for ever full; and open Night and Day.        70
Nor Silence is within, nor Voice express,
But a deaf Noise of Sounds that never cease;
Confus’d, and Chiding, like the hollow Roar
Of Tides, receding from th’ insulted Shore:
Or like the broken Thunder, heard from far,        75
When Jove to distance drives the rowling War.
The Courts are fill’d with a tumultuous Din
Of Crowds, or issuing forth, or entring in:
A thorough fare of News: Where some devise
Things never heard; some mingle Truth with Lies:        80
The troubled Air with empty Sounds they beat;
Intent to hear; and eager to repeat.
Error sits brooding there; with added Train
Of vain Credulity; and Joys as vain:
Suspicion, with Sedition join’d, are near;        85
And Rumors rais’d, and Murmurs mix’d, and Panique Fear.
Fame sits aloft; and sees the subject Ground,
And Seas about, and Skies above; enquiring all around.
  The Goddess gives th’ Alarm; and soon is known
The Grecian Fleet, descending on the Town.        90
Fix’d on Defence the Trojans are not slow
To guard their Shore from an expected Foe.
They meet in Fight: By Hector’s fatal Hand
Protesilaus falls; and bites the Strand:
Which with expence of Blood the Grecians won;        95
And prov’d the Strength unknown of Priam’s Son.
And to their Cost the Trojan Leaders felt
The Grecian Heroes; and what Deaths they dealt.
  From these first Onsets, the Sigæan Shore
Was strew’d with Carcasses; and stain’d with Gore:        100
Neptunian Cygnus Troops of Greeks had slain;
Achilles in his Carr had scow’r’d the Plain:
And clear’d the Trojan Ranks: Where e’er he fought,
Cygnus, or Hector, through the Fields he sought:
Cygnus he found; on him his Force essay’d:        105
For Hector was to the tenth Year delay’d.
His white man’d Steeds, that bow’d beneath the Yoke
He chear’d to Courage, with a gentle Stroke;
Then urg’d his fiery Chariot on the Foe:
And rising, shook his Lance, in act to throw.        110
But first, he cry’d, O Youth, be proud to bear
Thy Death, enobled, by Pelides Spear.
The Lance pursu’d the Voice without delay;
Nor did the whizzing Weapon miss the way:
But pierc’d his Cuirass, with such Fury sent;        115
And sign’d his Bosom with a Purple Dint.
At this the Seed of Neptune; Goddess-born,
For Ornament, not Use, these Arms are worn;
This Helm, and heavy Buckler, I can spare;
As only Decorations of the War:        120
So Mars is arm’d for Glory, not for Need.
’Tis somewhat more from Neptune to proceed,
Than from a Daughter of the Sea to spring:
Thy Sire is Mortal; mine is Ocean’s King.
Secure of Death, I shou’d contemn thy Dart,        125
Tho’ naked, and impassible depart:
He said, and threw: The trembling Weapon pass’d
Through nine Bull-hides, each under other plac’d,
On his broad Shield, and stuck within the last.
Achilles wrench’d it out; and sent again        130
The hostile Gift: The hostile Gift was vain.
He try’d a third, a tough well-chosen Spear;
Th’ inviolable Body stood sincere;
Though Cygnus then did no Defence provide,
But scornful offer’d his unshielded Side.        135
  Not otherwise th’ impatient Hero far’d,
Than as a Bull, incompass’d with a Guard
Amid the Circus roars: Provok’d from far
By sight of Scarlet, and a sanguine War:
They quit their Ground; his bended Horns elude;        140
In vain pursuing, and in vain pursu’d.
  Before to farther Fight he wou’d advance,
He stood considering, and survey’d his Lance.
Doubts if he wielded not a Wooden Spear
Without a Point: He look’d, the Point was there.        145
This is my Hand, and this my Lance, he se’d,
By which so many thousand Foes are dead.
O whether is their usual Virtue fled!
I had it once; and the Lyrnessian Wall,
And Tenedos confess’d it in their Fall.        150
Thy Streams, Caicus, rowl’d a Crimson-Flood;
And Thebes ran Red with her own Natives Blood.
Twice Telephus employ’d this piercing Steel,
To wound him first, and afterward to heal.
The Vigour of this Arm was never vain;        155
And that my wonted Prowess I retain,
Witness these Heaps of Slaughter on the Plain.
He said; and, doubtful of his former Deeds,
To some new trial of his Force proceeds.
He chose Menætes from among the rest;        160
At him he lanch’d his Spear; and pierc’d his Breast:
On the hard Earth, the Lycian knock’d his Head,
And lay supine; and forth the Spirit fled.
  Then thus the Hero: Neither can I blame,
The Hand, or Javelin; both are still the same.        165
The same I will employ against this Foe;
And wish but with the same Success to throw.
So spoke the Chief; and while he spoke he threw;
The Weapon with unerring Fury flew,
At his left Shoulder aim’d: Nor Entrance found;        170
But back, as from a Rock, with swift rebound
Harmless return’d: A bloody Mark appear’d,
Which with false Joy the flatter’d Hero chear’d.
Wound there was none; the Blood that was in view,
The Lance before from slain Menætes drew        175
  Headlong he leaps from off his lofty Car,
And in close Fight on foot renews the War.
Raging with high Disdain, repeats his Blows;
Nor Shield nor Armour can their Force oppose;
Huge Cantlets of his Buckler strew the Ground,        180
And no Defence in his bor’d Arms is found.
But on his Flesh, no Wound or Blood is seen;
The Sword it self is blunted on the Skin.
  This vain Attempt the Chief no longer bears;
But round his hollow Temples and his Ears        185
His Buckler beats: The Son of Neptune, stun’d
With these repeated Buffets, quits his Ground;
A sickly Sweat succeeds; and Shades of Night:
Inverted Nature swims before his Sight:
Th’ insulting Victor presses on the more,        190
And treads the Steps the vanquish’d trod before,
Nor Rest, nor Respite gives: A Stone there lay
Behind his trembling Foe; and stop’d his way.
Achilles took th’ Advantage which he found,
O’er-turn’d, and push’d him backward on the Ground.        195
His Buckler held him under. while he press’d
With both his Knees above, his panting Breast;
Unlac’d his Helm: About his Chin the Twist
He ty’d; and soon the strangled Soul dismiss’d.
  With eager haste he went to strip the Dead        200
The vanish’d Body from his Arms was fled.
His Sea-God Sire t’ immortalize his Fame,
Had turn’d it to the Bird that bears his Name.
  A Truce succeeds the Labours of this Day,
And Arms suspended with a long delay.        205
While Trojan Walls are kept with Watch and Ward;
The Greeks before their Trenches mount the Guard;
The Feast approach’d; when to the blue-Ey’d Maid
His Vows for Cygnus slain the Victor paid,
And a white Heyfer, on her Altar laid.        210
The reeking Entrails on the Fire they threw;
And to the Gods the grateful Odour flew:
Heav’n had its part in Sacrifice: The rest
Was broil’d and roasted for the future Feast.
The chief invited Guests were set around;        215
And Hunger first asswag’d, the Bowls were crown’d,
Which in deep Draughts their Cares and Labours drown’d.
The mellow Harp did not their Ears employ:
And mute was all the Warlike Symphony:
Discourse, the Food of Souls, was their Delight,        220
And pleasing Chat prolong’d the Summers-night.
The Subject, Deeds of Arms; and Valour shown
Or on the Trojan side, or on their own.
Of Dangers undertaken, Fame atchiev’d;
They talk’d by turns; the Talk by turns reliev’d.        225
What Things but these, cou’d fierce Achilles tell,
Or what cou’d fierce Achilles hear so well?
The last great Act perform’d, of Cygnus slain,
Did most the Martial Audience entertain:
Wondring to find a Body, free by Fate        230
From Steel; and which could ev’n that Steel rebate:
Amaz’d, their Admiration they renew;
And scarce Pelides cou’d believe it true.
  Then Nestor thus; What once this Age has known,
In fated Cygnus, and in him alone,        235
These Eyes have seen in Cæneus long before,
Whose body not a thousand Swords cou’d bore.
Cæneus, in Courage, and in Strength excell’d;
And still his Othrys 2 with his Fame is fill’d:
But what did most his Martial Deeds adorn,        240
(Though since he chang’d his Sex) a Woman born.
  A Novelty so strange, and full of Fate,
His list’ning Audience ask’d him to relate.
Achilles thus commends their common Sute;
O Father, first for Prudence in repute,        245
Tell, with that Eloquence, so much thy own,
What thou hast heard, or what of Cæneus known:
What was he, whence his change of Sex begun,
What Trophies, join’d in Wars with thee, he won?
Who conquer’d him, and in what fatal Strife        250
The Youth without a Wound, cou’d lose his Life?
  Neleides then; Though tardy Age, and Time
Have shrunk my Sinews, and decay’d my Prime:
Though much I have forgotten of my Store,
Yet not exhausted, I remember more.        255
Of all that Arms atchiev’d, or Peace design’d,
That Action still is fresher in my Mind
Than ought beside. If Reverend Age can give
To Faith a Sanction, in my third I live.
  ’Twas in my second Cent’ry, I survey’d        260
Young Cænis, then a fair Thessalian Maid:
Cænis the bright was born to high Command;
A Princess; and a Native of thy Land,
Divine Achilles: every Tongue proclaim’d
Her Beauty; and her Eyes all Hearts inflam’d.        265
Peleus, thy sire, perhaps had sought her Bed,
Among the rest; but he had either led
Thy Mother then, or was by Promise ty’d;
But she to him, and all alike her Love deny’d.
  It was her Fortune once, to take her way        270
Along the sandy Margin of the Sea:
The Pow’r of Ocean view’d her as she pass’d,
And lov’d as soon as seen, by Force embrac’d.
So Fame reports. Her Virgin-Treasure seiz’d,
And his new Joys, the Ravisher so pleas’d,        275
That thus, transported, to the Nymph he cry’d;
Ask what thou wilt, no Pray’r shall be deny’d.
This also Fame relates: The haughty Fair,
Who not the Rape, ev’n of a God cou’d bear,
This Answer, proud, return’d: To mighty Wrongs        280
A mighty Recompense, of right, belongs.
Give me no more to suffer such a Shame;
But change the Woman, for a better Name;
One Gift for all: She said; and while she spoke,
A stern, majestick, manly Tone she took.        285
A Man she was: And as the Godhead swore,
To Cæneus turn’d, who Cænis was before.
  To this the Lover adds without request:
No force of Steel shou’d violate his Breast.
Glad of the Gift, the new-made Warrior goes;        290
And Arms among the Greeks; and longs for equal Foes.
  Now brave Perithous, bold Ixion’s Son,
The Love of fair Hippodame had won.
The Cloud-begotten Race, half Men, half Beast,
Invited, came to grace the Nuptial Feast:        295
In a cool Cave’s recess the Treat was made,
Whose entrance Trees with spreading Boughs o’ershade.
They sate: And summon’d by the Bridegroom, came,
To mix with those the Lapythæan Name:
Nor wanted I: The Roofs with Joy resound:        300
And Hymen, Io Hymen, rung around,
Rais’d Altars shone with holy Fires; the Bride,
Lovely her self (and lovely by her side
A Bevy of bright Nimphs, with sober Grace,)
Came glitt’ring like a Star, and took her Place.        305
Her heav’nly Form beheld, all wish’d her Joy;
And little wanted, but in vain, their Wishes all employ.
  For One, most Brutal of the Brutal Brood,
Or whether Wine or Beauty fir’d his Blood
Or both at once; beheld with lustful Eyes        310
The Bride; at once resolv’d to make his Prize.
Down went the Board; and fastening on her Hair,
He seiz’d with sudden Force the frighted Fair.
’Twas Eurytus began: His bestial Kind
His Crime pursu’d; and each as pleas’d his Mind,        315
Or her, whom Chance presented, took: The Feast
An Image of a taken Town express’d.
  The Cave resounds with Female Shrieks; we rise,
Mad with Revenge, to make a swift Reprise
And Theseus first; What Frenzy has possess’d        320
O Eurytus, he cry’d, thy brutal Breast,
To wrong Perithous, and not him alone,
But, while I live, two Friends conjoyn’d in one?
  To justify his Threat, he thrusts aside
The Crowd of Centaurs; and redeems the Bride:        325
The Monster nought replied: For Words were vain;
And Deeds cou’d only Deeds unjust maintain:
But answers with his Hand; and forward press’d,
With Blows redoubled, on his Face and Breast.
An ample Goblet stood, of antick Mold,        330
And rough with Figures of the rising Gold;
The Hero snatch’d it up, and toss’d in Air,
Full at the Front of the foul Ravisher:
He falls; and falling vomits forth a Flood
Of Wine, and Foam and Brains, and mingled Blood.        335
Half roaring, and half neighing through the Hall,
Arms, Arms, the double-form’d with Fury call;
To wreak their Brother’s Death: A Medley-Flight
Of Bowls and Jars, at first supply the Fight,
Once Instruments of Feasts, but now of Fate;        340
Wine animates their Rage, and arms their Hate.
  Bold Amycus, from the robb’d Vestry brings
The Chalices of Heav’n; and holy Things
Of precious Weight: A Sconce, that hung on high,
With Tapers fill’d, to light the Sacristy,        345
Torn from the Cord, with his unhallow’d Hand
He threw amid the Lapythæan Band.
On Celadon the Ruin fell, and left
His Face of Feature and of Form bereft:
So, when some brawny Sacrificer knocks,        350
Before an altar led, an offer’d Oxe,
His Eye-balls rooted out are thrown to ground:
His Nose dismantled in his Mouth is found,
His Jaws, Cheeks, Front, one undistinguish’d Wound.
  This, Belates, th’ Avenger, cou’d not brook;        355
But, by the Foot a Maple-board he took;
And hurl’d at Amycus; his Chin it bent
Against his Chest, and down the Centaur sent;
Whom sputtring bloody Teeth, the second Blow
Of his drawn Sword dispatch’d to Shades below.        360
  Grineus was near; and cast a furious Look
On the side Altar, cens’d with sacred Smoke,
And bright with flaming Fires: The Gods, he cry’d,
Have with their holy Trade, our Hands supply’d:
Why use we not their Gifts? Then from the Floor        365
An Altar-Stone he heav’d, with all the Load it bore:
Altar and Altars freight together flew,
Where thickest throng’d the Lapythæan Crew;
And Broteas, and at once, 3 Oryus slew:
Oryus mother, Mycale, was known        370
Down from her Sphere to draw the lab’ring Moon.
  Exadius cry’d, Unpunish’d shall not go
This Fact, if Arms are found against the Foe.
He look’d about, where on a Pine were spred
The votive Horns of a Stags branching Head:        375
At Grineus these he throws; so just they fly,
That the sharp Antlers stuck in either Eye:
Breathless and Blind he fell; with Blood besmear’d;
His Eye-balls beaten out hung dangling on his Beard.
Fierce Rhætus, from the Hearth a burning Brand        380
Selects, and whirling waves; till, from his Hand
The Fire took Flame; then dash’d it from the right,
On fair Charaxus Temples near the Sight:
The whistling Pest came on; and pierc’d the Bone,
And caught the yellow Hair, that shrievel’d while it shone:        385
Caught, like dry Stubble fir’d; or like Seer-wood;
Yet from the Wound ensu’d no Purple Flood;
But look’d a bubbling Mass of frying Blood.
His blazing Locks sent forth a crackling Sound;
And hiss’d, like red hot Iron within the Smithy drown’d.        390
The wounded Warrior shook his flaming Hair,
Then (what a Team of Horse cou’d hardly rear)
He heaves the Threshold-Stone; but cou’d not throw;
The Weight it self forbad the threaten’d Blow;
Which dropping from his lifted Arms, came down,        395
Full on Cometes Head; and crush’d his Crown.
Nor Rhætus then retain’d his Joy; but se’d;
So by their Fellows may our Foes be sped,
Then, with redoubled Strokes he plies his Head:
The burning Lever not deludes his Pains,        400
But drives the batter’d Skull within the Brains.
  Thus flush’d, the Conqueror, with force renew’d,
Evagrus, Dryas, Corythus, pursu’d:
First Corythus, with downy Cheeks, he slew;
Whose Fall when fierce Evagrus had in view,        405
He cry’d, What Palm is from a beardless Prey?
Rhætus prevents what more he had to say;
And drove within his Mouth the fiery Death,
Which enter’d hissing in, and choak’d his Breath.
At Dryas next he flew; But weary Chance        410
No longer wou’d the same Success advance.
But while he whirl’d in fiery Circles round
The Brand, a sharpen’d Stake strong Dryas found;
And in the Shoulder’s Joint inflicts the Wound.
The Weapon struck; which roaring out with Pain        415
He drew; nor longer durst the Fight maintain,
But turn’d his Back, for fear; and fled amain.
With him fled Orneus, with like Dread possess’d;
Thaumas, and Medon, wounded in the Breast;
And Mermeros in the late Race renown’d,        420
Now limping ran, and tardy with his Wound.
Pholus and Melaneus from Fight withdrew,
And Abas maim’d, who Boars encountring slew:
And Augur Astylos, whose Art in vain
From Fight dissuaded the four-footed Train,        425
Now beat the Hoof with Nessus on the Plain;
But to his Fellow cry’d, Be safely slow,
Thy Death deferr’d is due to great Alcides Bow.
  Mean time strong Dryas urg’d his Chance so well,
That Lycidas, Areos, Imbreus fell;        430
All, one by one, and fighting Face to Face:
Crenæus fled, to fall with more Disgrace:
For, fearful, while he look’d behind, he bore
Betwixt his Nose and Front, the Blow before.
Amid the Noise and Tumult of the Fray,        435
Snoring, and drunk with Wine, Aphidas lay.
Ev’n then the Bowl within his Hand he kept:
And on a Bear’s rough Hide securely slept.
Him Phorbas with his flying Dart, transfix’d;
Take thy next Draught with Stygian Waters mix’d,        440
And sleep thy fill, th’ insulting Victor cry’d;
Surpris’d with Death unfelt, the Centaur dy’d:
The ruddy Vomit, as he breath’d his Soul,
Repass’d his Throat; and fill’d his empty Bowl.
  I saw Petræus Arms employ’d around        445
A well-grown Oak, to root it from the Ground.
This way, and that, he wrench’d the fibrous Bands,
The Trunk was like a Sappling in his Hands,
And still obey’d the Bent: While thus he stood,
Perithous Dart drove on; and nail’d him to the Wood.        450
Lycus, and Chromis fell by him oppress’d:
Helops and Dictys added to the rest
A nobler Palm: Helops through either Ear
Transfix’d, receiv’d the penetrating Spear.
This Dictys saw; and seiz’d with suddain Fright        455
Leapt headlong from the Hill of steepy height;
And crush’d an Ash beneath, that cou’d not bear his weight.
The shatter’d Tree receives his Fall; and strikes
Within his full-blown Paunch, the sharpen’d Spikes.
Strong Aphareus had heav’d a mighty Stone,        460
The Fragment of a Rock; and wou’d have thrown;
But Theseus with a Club of harden’d Oak,
The Cubit-bone of the bold Centaur broke;
And left him maim’d; nor seconded the Stroke.
Then leapt on tall Bianor’s Back: (Who bore        465
No mortal Burden but his own, before)
Press’d with his Knees his Sides; the double Man,
His Speed with Spurs increas’d, unwilling ran.
One Hand the Hero fasten’d on his Locks;
His other ply’d him with repeated Strokes.        470
The Club rung round his Ears, and batter’d Brows;
He falls; and lashing up his Heels, his Rider throws.
  The same Herculean Arms Nedymnus wound;
And lay by him Lycotas on the Ground;
And Hippasus, whose Beard his Breast invades;        475
And Ripheus, haunter of the Woodland Shades:
And Tereus, us’d with Mountain Bears to strive;
And from their Dens to draw th’ indignant Beasts alive.
  Demoleon cou’d not bear this hateful Sight,
Or the long Fortune of th’ Athenian Knight:        480
But pull’d with all his Force, to disengage
From Earth a Pine, the Product of an Age:
The Root stuck fast: The broken Trunk he sent
At Theseus: Theseus frustrates his Intent,
And leaps aside, by Pallas warn’d, the Blow        485
To shun: (for so he said; and we believ’d it so.)
Yet not in vain th’ enormous Weight was cast;
Which Crantor’s Body sunder’d at the Waist,
Thy Father’s Squire, Achilles, and his Care;
Whom conquer’d in the Dolopeian War,        490
Their King, his present Ruin to prevent,
A Pledge of Peace implor’d, to Peleus sent.
Thy Sire, with grieving Eyes, beheld his Fate;
And cry’d, Not long, lov’d Crantor, shalt thou wait
Thy vow’d Revenge. At once he said, and threw        495
His Ashen-Spear; which quiver’d as it flew;
With all his Force and all his Soul apply’d;
The sharp Point enter’d in the Centaur’s Side:
Both Hands, to wrench it out, the Monster join’d;
And wrench’d it out; but left the Steel behind.        500
Stuck in his Lungs it stood: Inrag’d he rears
His Hoofs, and down to Ground thy Father bears.
Thus trampled under foot, his Shield defends
His Head; his other Hand the Lance protends. 4
Ev’n while he lay extended on the Dust,        505
He sped the Centaur, with one single Thrust.
Two more his Lance before transfix’d from far;
And two his Sword had slain in closer War.
To these was added Dorylas: Who spread
A Bull’s two goring Horns around his Head.        510
With these he push’d; in Blood already dy’d:
Him, fearless, I approach’d; and thus defy’d:
Now, Monster, now, by Proof it shall appear,
Whether thy Horns are sharper or my Spear.
At this, I threw: For want of other Ward,        515
He lifted up his Hand, his Front to guard.
His Hand it pass’d: And fix’d it to his Brow:
Loud Shouts of ours attend the lucky Blow.
Him Peleus finish’d, with a second Wound,
Which through the Navel pierc’d: He reel’d around;        520
And drag’d his dangling Bowels on the Ground;
Trod what he drag’d; and what he trod he crush’d:
And to his Mother-Earth, with empty Belly rush’d.
  Nor cou’d thy Form, O Cyllarus, foreslow 5
Thy Fate; (if Form to Monsters Men allow:)        525
Just bloom’d thy Beard, thy 6 Beard of golden Hew:
Thy Locks in golden Waves, about thy Shoulders flew.
Sprightly thy Look: Thy Shapes in ev’ry part
So clean; as might instruct the Sculptor’s Art:
As far as Man extended: Where began        530
The Beast, the Beast was equal to the Man.
Add but a Horses Head and Neck; and he,
O Castor, was a Courser worthy thee.
So was his Back proportion’d for the Seat;
So rose his brawny Chest; so swiftly mov’d his Feet.        535
Coal-black his Colour; but like Jet it shone;
His Legs and flowing Tail were White alone.
Belov’d by many Maidens of his Kind,
But fair Hylonome possess’d his Mind;
Hylonome, for Features, and for Face        540
Excelling all the Nymphs of double Race:
Nor less her Blandishments, than Beauty move;
At once both loving, and confessing Love.
For him she dress’d: For him with female care
She comb’d, and set in Curls, her auborn Hair.        545
Of Roses, Violets, and Lillies mix’d
And Sprigs of flowing Rosemary betwixt
She form’d the Chaplet, that adorn’d her Front:
In Waters of the Pagasæan Fount,
And in the Streams that from the Fountain play,        550
She wash’d her Face; and bath’d her twice a Day.
The Scarf of Furs, that hung below her Side,
Was Ermin, or the Panther’s spotted Pride;
Spoils of no common Beast: With equal Flame
They lov’d: Their Sylvan 7 Pleasures were the same:        555
All Day they hunted; And when Day expir’d,
Together to some shady Cave retir’d:
Invited to the nuptials, both repair:
And Side by Side, they both ingage in War.
  Uncertain from what Hand, a flying Dart        560
At Cyllarus was sent; which pierc’d his Heart.
The Javelin drawn from out the mortal Wound,
He faints with staggring Steps; and seeks the Ground:
The Fair within her Arms receiv’d his Fall,
And strove his wandring Spirits to recal:        565
And while her Hand the streaming Blood oppos’d,
Join’d Face to Face, his Lips with hers she clos’d.
Stiffled with Kisses, a sweet Death he dies;
She fills the Fields with undistinguish’d Cries:
At least her Words were in her Clamour drown’d;        570
For my stun’d Ears receiv’d no vocal Sound.
In madness of her Grief, she seiz’d the Dart
New-drawn, and reeking from her Lover’s Heart;
To her bare Bosom the sharp Point apply’d;
And wounded fell; and falling by his Side,        575
Embrac’d him in her Arms; and thus embracing, dy’d.
  Ev’n still, methinks, I see Phæocomes;
Strange was his Habit; and as odd his Dress.
Six Lion’s Hides, with Thongs together fast,
His upper part defended to his Waist;        580
And where Man ended, the continued Vest,
Spread on his Back, the Houss and Trappings of a Beast
A Stump too heavy for a Team to draw,
(It seems a Fable, tho’ the Fact I saw;)
He threw at Pholon; the descending Blow        585
Divides the Skull, and cleaves his Head in two.
The Brains, from Nose and Mouth, and either Ear
Came issuing out, as through a Colendar
The curdled Milk; or from the Press the Whey
Driv’n down by Weights above, is drain’d away.        590
  But him, while stooping down to spoil the Slain,
Pierc’d through the Paunch, I tumbled on the Plain.
Then Chthonyus and Teleboas I slew:
A Fork the former arm’d; a Dart his Fellow threw.
The Javelin wounded me; (behold the Skar,)        595
Then was my time to seek the Trojan War;
Then I was Hector’s Match in open Field;
But he was then unborn; at least a Child;
Now, I am nothing. I forbear to tell
By Periphantas how Pyretus fell;        600
The Centaur by the Knight: Now will I stay
On Amphyx, or what Deaths he dealt that Day:
What Honour with a pointless Lance he won,
Stuck in the front of a four-footed Man;
What fame young Macareus obtain’d in Fight:        605
Or dwell on Nessus, now return’d from Flight;
How Prophet Mopsus not alone devin’d,
Whose Valour equall’d his foreseeing Mind.
  Already Cæneus, with his conquering Hand,
Had slaughter’d five the boldest of their Band;        610
Pyrachmus, Helymus, Antimachus,
Bromus the Brave, and stronger Stiphelus;
Their Names I number’d, and remember well,
No Trace remaining, by what Wounds they fell.
  Latreus, the bulkiest of the double Race,        615
Whom the spoil’d Arms of slain Halesus grace,
In Years retaining still his Youthful Might,
Though his black Hairs were interspers’d with White,
Betwixt th’ imbattled Ranks began to prance,
Proud of his Helm, and Macedonian Lance;        620
And rode the Ring around; that either Hoast
Might hear him, while he made this empty Boast.
And from a Strumpet shall we suffer Shame,
For Cænis still, not Cæneus is thy Name:
And still the Native Softness of thy Kind        625
Prevails; and leaves the Woman in thy Mind?
Remember what thou wert; what price was paid
To change thy Sex: to make thee not a Maid;
And but a Man in shew: go, Card and Spin;
And leave the Business of the War to Men.        630
  While thus the Boaster exercis’d his Pride,
The fatal Spear of Cæneus reach’d his Side:
Just in the mixture of the Kinds it ran;
Betwixt the neather Beast, 8 and upper Man:
The Monster mad with Rage, and stung with Smart,        635
His Lance directed at the Hero’s Heart:
It strook: But bounded from his harden’d Breast,
Like Hail from Tiles, which the safe House invest.
Nor seem’d the Stroke with more effect to come,
Than a small Pebble falling on a Drum.        640
He next his Fauchion try’d, in closer Fight;
But the keen Fauchion had no Pow’r to bite.
He thrust; the blunted Point return’d again:
Since downright Blows, he cry’d, and Thrusts are vain,
I’ll prove his Side: In strong Embraces held        645
He prov’d his Side; his Side the Sword repell’d:
His hollow Belly eccho’d to the Stroke;
Untouch’d his Body, as a solid Rock;
Aim’d at his Neck at last, the Blade in Shivers broke.
  Th’ Impassive Knight stood Idle, to deride        650
His Rage, and offer’d oft his naked Side:
At length, Now Monster, in thy turn, he cry’d,
Try thou the Strength of Cæneus: At the Word
He thrust; and in his Shoulder plung’d the Sword.
Then writh’d his Hand; and as he drove it down,        655
Deep in his Breast, made many Wounds in one.
  The Centaurs saw inrag’d, th’ unhop’d Success;
And rushing on, in Crowds, together press;
At him, and him alone, their Darts they threw:
Repuls’d they from his fated Body flew.        660
Amaz’d they stood; till Monychus began,
O Shame, a Nation conquer’d by a Man!
A Woman-Man; yet more a Man is He,
Than all our Race; and what He was, are We.
Now, what avail our Nerves? The united Force,        665
Of two the strongest Creatures, Man and Horse,
Nor Goddess-born, nor of Ixion’s Seed
We seem; (a Lover built for Juno’s Bed;)
Master’d by this half Man. Whole Mountains throw
With Woods at once, and bury him below.        670
This only way remains. Nor need we doubt
To choak the Soul within; though not to force it out.
Heap Weights, instead of Wounds: He chanc’d to see
Where Southern Storms had rooted up a Tree;
This, raised from Earth, against the Foe he threw;        675
Th’ Example shewn, his Fellow-Brutes pursue.
With Forest-loads the Warrior they invade;
Othrys and Pelion soon were void of Shade;
And spreading Groves were naked Mountains made.
Press’d with the Burden, Cæneus pants for Breath;        680
And on his Shoulders bears the Wooden Death.
To heave th’ intolerable Weight he tries;
At length it rose above his Mouth and Eyes:
Yet still he heaves: And strugling with Despair,
Shakes all aside; and gains a gulp of Air:        685
A short Relief, which but prolongs his Pain;
He faints by Fits; and then respires again:
At last, the Burden only nods above,
As when an Earthquake stirs th’ Idæan Grove.
Doubtful his Death: He suffocated seem’d        690
To most; but otherwise our Mopsus deem’d
Who said he saw a yellow Bird arise
From out the Pile, and cleave the liquid Skies:
I saw it too, with golden feathers bright,
Nor e’re before beheld so strange a Sight.        695
Whom Mopsus viewing, as it soar’d around
Our Troop, and heard the Pinions rattling Sound,
All hail, he cry’d, thy Countries Grace and Love;
Once first of Men below; now first of Birds above.
Its Author to the Story gave Belief:        700
For us, our Courage was increas’d by Grief:
Asham’d to see a single Man, pursu’d
With Odds, to sink beneath a Multitude:
We push’d the Foe; and forc’d to shameful Flight, 9
Part fell; and part escap’d by favour of the Night.        705
  This Tale, by Nestor told, did much displease
Tlepolemus, the Seed of Hercules:
For, often he had heard his Father say,
That he himself was present at the Fray;
And more than shar’d the Glories of the Day.        710
  Old Chronicle, he said, among the rest,
You might have nam’d Alcides at the least:
Is he not worth your Praise? The Pylian Prince
Sigh’d ere he spoke; then made this proud Defence.
My former Woes, in long Oblivion drown’d        715
I would have lost; but you renew the Wound:
Better to pass him o’er, than to relate
The Cause I have your mighty Sire to hate.
His Fame has fill’d the World, and reach’d the Sky;
(Which, Oh, I wish, with Truth, I cou’d deny!)        720
We praise not Hector; though his name, we know,
Is great in Arms; ’tis hard to praise a Foe.
  He, your Great Father, levell’d to the Ground
Messenia’s Towers: Nor better Fortune found
Elis, and Pylus; that a neighb’ring State        725
And this my own: Both guiltless of their Fate.
  To pass the rest, twelve wanting one, he slew,
My Brethren, who their Birth from Neleus drew.
All Youths of early Promise, had they liv’d;
By him they perish’d: I alone surviv’d.        730
The rest were easy Conquest: But the Fate
Of Periclymenos is wondrous to relate.
To him our common Grandsire of the Main
Had giv’n to change his Form, and chang’d, resume again.
Vary’d at Pleasure, every Shape he try’d;        735
And in all Beasts Alcides still defy’d:
Vanquish’d on Earth, at length he soar’d above;
Chang’d to the Bird, that bears the Bolt of Jove.
The new-dissembled Eagle, now endu’d
With Beak and Pounces, Hercules pursu’d,        740
And cuff’d his manly Cheeks, and tore his Face;
Then, safe retir’d, and tour’d 10 in empty space.
Alcides bore not long his flying Foe:
But bending his inevitable Bow,
Reach’d him in Air, suspended as he stood;        745
And in his Pinion fix’d the feather’d Wood.
Light was the Wound; but in the Sinew hung
The Point: and his disabled Wing unstrung.
He wheel’d in Air, and stretch’d his Vans in vain;
His Vans no longer cou’d his Flight sustain:        750
For while one gather’d Wind, one unsupply’d
Hung drooping down; nor pois’d his other Side.
He fell: The Shaft that slightly was impress’d,
Now from his heavy Fall with weight increas’d,
Drove through his Neck, aslant; he spurns the Ground,        755
And the Soul issues through the Weazon’s Wound.
  Now, brave Commander of the Rhodian Seas,
What Praise is due from me to Hercules?
Silence is all the Vengeance I decree
For my slain Brothers; but ’tis Peace with thee.        760
  Thus with a flowing Tongue old Nestor spoke:
Then, to full Bowls each other they provoke:
At length, with Weariness, and Wine oppress’d
They rise from Table; and withdraw to rest.
  The Sire of Cygnus, Monarch of the Main,        765
Mean time, laments his Son, in Battle slain:
And vows the Victor’s Death; nor vows in vain.
For nine long Years the smoother’d Pain he bore;
(Achilles was not ripe for Fate, before:)
Then when he saw the promis’d Hour was near,        770
He thus bespoke the God, that guides the Year.
Immortal Offspring of my Brother Jove;
My brightest Nephew, and whom best I love,
Whose Hands were join’d with mine, to raise the Wall
Of tottring Troy, now nodding to her fall;        775
Dost thou not mourn our Pow’r employ’d in vain;
And the Defenders of our City slain?
To pass the rest, cou’d noble Hector lie
Unpity’d, drag’d around his Native Troy?
And yet the Murd’rer lives: Himself by far        780
A greater Plague, than all the wastful War:
He lives; the proud Pelides lives to boast
Out Town destroy’d, our common Labour lost!
O, cou’d I meet him! But I wish too late
To prove my Trident is not in his Fate!        785
But let him try (for that’s allow’d) thy Dart,
And pierce his only penetrable Part.
  Apollo bows to the superiour Throne
And to his Uncle’s Anger, adds his own.
Then in a Cloud involv’d, he takes his Flight,        790
Where Greeks and Trojans mix’d in mortal Fight;
And found out Paris, lurking where he stood,
And stain’d his Arrows with Plebeyan Blood:
Phœbus to him alone the God confess’d,
Then to the recreant Knight he thus address’d.        795
Dost thou not blush, to spend thy Shafts in vain
On a degenerate, and ignoble Train?
If Fame, or better Vengeance be thy Care,
There aim: And with one Arrow, end the war.
  He said; and shew’d from far the blazing Shield        800
And Sword, which but Achilles none cou’d weild;
And how he mov’d a God, and mow’d the standing Field.
The Deity himself directs aright
Th’ invenom’d Shaft; and wings the fatal Flight.
  Thus fell the foremost of the Grecian Name;        805
And He, the base Adult’rer, boasts the Fame.
A Spectacle to glad the Trojan Train;
And please old Priam, after Hector slain.
If by a Female Hand he had foreseen
He was to die, his Wish had rather been        810
The Lance and double Axe of the fair Warriour Queen.
And now, the Terror of the Trojan Field,
The Grecian Honour, Ornament, and Shield,
High on a Pile th’ Unconquer’d Chief is plac’d:
The God that arm’d him first, consum’d at last.        815
Of all the Mighty Man, the small Remains
A little Urn, and scarcely fill’d, contains.
Yet great in Homer, still Achilles lives;
And equal to himself, himself survives.
  His Buckler owns its former Lord; and brings        820
New cause of Strife betwixt contending Kings;
Who Worthiest after him, his Sword to wield,
Or wear his Armour, or sustain his Shield.
Ev’n Diomede sat mute, with down-cast Eyes;
Conscious of wanted Worth to win the Prize:        825
Nor Menelas 11 presum’d these Arms to claim,
Nor He the King of Men, a greater Name.
Two Rivals only rose: Laertes Son,
And the vast Bulk of Ajax Telamon:
The King, who cherish’d each, with equal Love,        830
And from himself all Envy wou’d remove,
Left both to be determin’d by the Laws;
And to the Grecian Chiefs transferr’d the Cause.
Note 1. The text is from the original of 1700, except as noted. The original was carelessly printed. The current texts have some ugly errors, as in 524 where Ovid’s words are Nec te pugnantem tua, Cyllare, forma redemit, and in 826. The original has many false stops. [back]
Note 2. Othrys] Othry’s 1700. [back]
Note 3. Broteas, and at once,] Some editors wrongly give at once Broteas and [back]
Note 4. protends] Some editors wrongly give portends. [back]
Note 5. foreslow] The English editors absurdly give foreshow. [back]
Note 6. Beard, thy] Beard: Thy 1700. [back]
Note 7. Sylvan] Sylvan 1700. [back]
Note 8. Beast] Breast 1700. [back]
Note 9. Flight] Some editors absurdly give Fight [back]
Note 10. tour’d] The spelling is probably Dryden’s. [back]
Note 11. Menelas] The editors, regardless of scansion, wrongly give Menelaus. [back]

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