|from METAMORPHOSES||BOOK 10, LINES 708-739|
|Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)||prose trans. Mary M. Innes|
'Illa quidem monuit iunctisque per aera cycnis
carpit iter, sed stat monitis contraria virtus.
forte suem latebris vestigia certa secuti
excivere canes, silvisque exire parantem
fixerat obliquo iuvenis Cinyreius ictu:
protinus excussit pando venabula rostro
sanguine tincta suo trepidumque et tuta petentem
trux aper insequitur totosque sub inguine dentes
abdidit et fulva moribundum stravit harena.
vecta levi curru medias Cytherea per auras
Cypron olorinis nondum pervenerat alis:
agnovit longe gemitum morientis et albas
flexit aves illuc, utque aethere vidit ab alto
exanimem inque suo iactantem sanguine corpus,
desiluit pariterque sinum pariterque capillos
rupit et indignis percussit pectora palmis
questaque cum fatis "at non tamen omnia vestri
iuris erunt" dixit. "luctus monimenta manebunt
semper, Adoni, mei, repetitaque mortis imago
annua plangoris peraget simulamina nostri;
at cruor in florem mutabitur. an tibi quondam
femineos artus in olentes vertere mentas,
Persephone, licuit: nobis Cinyreius heros
invidiae mutatus erit?" sic fata cruorem
nectare odorato sparsit, qui tinctus ab illo
intumuit sic, ut fulvo perlucida caeno
surgere bulla solet, nec plena longior hora
facta mora est, cum flos de sanguine concolor ortus,
qualem, quae lento celant sub cortice granum,
punica ferre solent; brevis est tamen usus in illo;
namque male haerentem et nimia levitate caducum
excutiunt idem, qui praestant nomina, venti.'
Venus, as she drove through the air in her light chariot drawn by winged swans, had not yet reached Cyprus. She recognized the groans of the dying Adonis from afar, and turned her white birds in his direction. As she looked down from on high she saw him, lying lifeless, his limbs still writhing in his own blood. Leaping down from her car, she tore at her bosom and at her hair, beat her breast with hands never meant for such a use, and reproached the fates. "But still," she cried, " you will not have everything under your absolute sway! There will he an everlasting token of my grief, Adonis. Every year, the scene of your death will be staged anew, and lamented with wailing cries, in imitation of those cries of mine. But your blood will be changed into a flower. Persephone was once allowed to change a woman's body into fragrant mint, and shall I be grudged the right to transform Cinyras' brave grandson?"
With these words, she sprinkled Adonis' blood with sweet-smelling nectar and, at the touch of the liquid, the blood swelled up, just as clear bubbles rise in yellow mud. Within an hour, a flower sprang up, the colour of blood, and in appearance like that of the pomegranate. the fruit which conceals its seeds under a leathery skin. But the enjoyment of this flower is of brief duration: for it is so fragile, its petals so lightly attached, that it quickly falls, shaken from its stem by those same winds that give it its name, anemone.
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