Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada
The king then quoth "Maybe, O knights,
Ye wonder at these sacred rites,
What they may be, what they are for,
And why we honour Phoebus more.
'Tis not blind faith that moves us so.
Whilom in great distress and woe
The Argive people sought release
And set these rites to pay for peace.
Advert to me your heart and mind
And let my words the tale unwind.
When deus Phoebus' mighty blow
Laid the cerulean monster low,
With all its sinuous volumes round,
Python, the offspring of the ground,
With swarty circles sevenfold
Surrounding Delphos in its hold
That with its squams had overthrust
And gnidden yeary oaks to dust,
With threecleft tongue outstretched ahead,
By the Castalian fountains' stead,
With venom, and with all its shape,
Was seen to long for food and gape.
He felled it thus with arrows shot,
The which he spent on wounds well wrought,
And left it scarce at length, unwound
Over Cirrhaean soil and ground:
Over one hundred acres spread!
Thence, new atonements for the dead
The god then sought, and hither yode
To our Crotopus' poor abode.
Here was a daughter, yearyoung she,
Waxing toward maturity
Wonderly beautiful and sheen,
Keeping the house, a maiden clean.
Fortunate were that virgin fair
Had she ne'er met the Delian there,
Phoebus and all th' intrigues he bore
Nor carried on occult amour.
By Nemea's flowing rivercourse
She felt the god, o'ercome by force.
When twice times five fullfaced in sight,
Cynthia in cycles showed by night,
The maiden kindled life to light
Latona's grandson heavenbright.
But fearing punishment and ire
If such were learned by her own sire,
For he would give no grace thereof,
To forced wedlock and violent love,
She chooses acres free from roads
With fenced enclosures, sheeps' abodes,
And to a mountainwandering one,
A guard of flocks, entrusts her son,
Beseeching wholly in her need
For him to care and keep and feed.
O child, the cradle thou wert in
Befit not thee of so great kin,
With grassen bolsters there bestowed,
Within the oakenthatched abode.
But closed amidst Arbutus' rind
The limbs yet warmth and comfort find.
A hollow fistula is played
By which sweet slumber soon is made,
The ground in common holden there
The weary flocks are glad to share.
The cruel fates forbid howe'er
E'en that as home, that humble lair,
For while one day, on grass he lies,
Mouthopened, breathing in the skies,
A rage of hounds upon him draws
And tears and feeds with bloody jaws.
When news thereof the mother hears
It shocks like thunder in her ears.
Father and shame fall out of mind
And former fear is left behind.
At once she wanes in all her wits
And fills the house with hideous fits.
And bearing forth a naked breast
Runs to her sire to be confessed.
Nor is he moved, nor is he mild
But horror! bids that his own child,
Yearning herself her final breath,
Be made to suffer dusky death.
Late mindful of thy love affair,
O Phoebus, thou wilt now prepare
A solace for her death and woe,
A monster birthed from hell below,
E'en from the Furies' filthy room,
'Neath lowest Acheron in gloom.
This has a maiden's face and breasts.
Atop her head, a snake ne'er rests,
Twixt iron brows, arising there,
Whose strident hisses fill the air.
Then, this dire plague, by night befalls,
And slides in chambers, slinks in halls,
Foully from bosoms' depths to rip
The recent offspring nurses grip,
And thus with bite and bloody flow
Much fattens on our country's woe.
Coroebus excellent of arms
And great of mind, bore not such harms.
With alderstrongest youths he came
Ready to hazard life for fame.
Having destroyed a new abode
By a gates' byway, now she yode
And at her side were corpses twain
Of little ones but newly slain,
Hooked hands yet tearing vital parts
And nails warmed in their tender hearts.
Against her Coroebus came strong
Surrounded by his manly throng,
And dalve his iron deeply prest,
His broadsword in her rigid breast.
With gleaming edge that inmost felt
The depths wherein her spirit dwelt,
At length he sent her overthrown
Returned to nether Jove to own.
'Twas joy to go and see right nigh
Livid in death the monster's eye,
And from her womb the pus outpour
And squalid breasts all crass with gore,
By which so many victims died.
Th' Inachian youths are stupified.
Now after tears great joys prevail
And now remembering, all grow pale.
And with hard sticks dead limbs totear
A vain relief for grief they bear,
On her sharp molars further wreak
And kick them out of either cheek:
Their might may not explete their anger.
Flying around with nocturn clangor
Ye birds, unfed, eschewed her sight,
E'en rabid hounds were filled with fright,
And trepid there, the wolves, they say,
Gaped with dry mouths and turned away.
Now with his slain aveng'ress' fate
The Delian's ire is doubled great,
Embittered at the youthful men,
And on twopeak Parnassus, then,
Sitting atop its shady height,
With curvy bow, with bitter spite,
He lets pestiferous arrows fly.
Feilds and Cyclopean houses high
Beneath the weather of the god
Are cast in stormclouds far and broad.
Sweet life to bitter ends is led
Death's sword cuts through the sisters' thread,
And bears the city, caught in woe,
Swift to the manes' depths below.
Whenas our leader asks the cause
What evil fire from ether draws,
And why alone is seen t' appear
Sirius reigning all the year,
Paean, the selfsame god decrees
As sacrafices to appease,
To the gored monster they should go,
Those that with slaughter laid her low.
O blest of mind about to earn
A lasting day as ages turn!
Not wretched thou, not wont to hide
Thy weapons or thy pious pride,
Nor run away, fear on thy breath,
Eschewing what seems certain death.
Coroebus stood and faced him plain
On the threshold of Cyrrah's fane,
And thus he sounds his heart entire
And asperates his sacred ire:
"Thymbraean, to thy temple here,
I come not sent nor bent in fear,
But piety has guided me
And concious virtue unto thee.
For I am he, O Phoebus, know
That laid thy mortal monster low,
That with dark cloud, with hindered day,
With pitchy filth, cast every way
Throughout the heaven's evil height
Thou seekest out with cruel might.
If monsters feirce and causing fear
To gods supernal be so dear,
And less a loss, below the sky,
To all the world, if humans die,
If heav'n has such inclemency,
Why should all Argives pay the fee?
'Tis I alone, O god most great,
I, that belong to such a fate.
Or are these more thine heart's delight,
Desolate houses in thy sight,
And hopeless cultors thy desire
And every acre lit on fire?
But why with words should I delay
Thy weapon and thine hand this way?
Mothers await and through the airs
Sound out for me the final prayers.
This is enough: I earned it so
That naught of mercy thou shouldst show.
Come then, bring forth thy quiver now
And stretch thy great resounding bow
And finally smite down this mark,
A noble soul, to death most dark.
But as I die, yet lingering here,
Dispel the cloud and make things clear.
Remove that pallid mass that stands
Thick o'er Inachian Argos' lands."
So equal fortune as it runs
E'en yet respects deserving ones.
Then ardent Letoides awed
For reverence overcame the god.
He grants the honour of his life,
However trist, and ends the strife.
The evil cloud flees from the height,
As thou heard out, wouldst leave, O knight,
Phoebus in great amazement there,
And o'er the temple's threshold fare.
Thence be these solemn feasts unrolled
That sacred rituals e'er uphold,
And honour new with gifts divine
Thus placates Phoebus holy shrine.
What progenies are ye by chance
That o'er these holy altars glance?
Though, if the clamour earlier made
Was rightly to mine ear conveyed
Soothly, they heard e'en that this one
Is Calydonian Oeneus' son,
O'er Parthaonian's house to reign.
But thou, the other of you twain,
That comest unto Argos' land
Reveal, that we may understand,
Thine own origin, stirp and stock,
While time allows for varied talk."
Th' Ismenian hero, with unmirth,
Turning his face toward the earth,
Then tacitely and cornerwise
To injured Tydeus took his eyes.
Thus for a while was nothing heard,
But finally his words upstirred:
"Not o'er these rites of gods divine
Should I be asked about my line,
Whence be my kin, what native stow
Or how mine ancient bloodties flow.
Uneath is that to be confest
Among these rituals clean and blest.
But if thy cares so urgent be
To learn of all my misery,
Cadmus is th'origin, indeed,
Of all my fathers and their seed,
Mavortian Thebes our native earth,
And from Jocasta's womb, my birth."
Adrastus stirred with friendlihood.
Indeed, he knew and understood:
"Wherefore conceal the known and couth?
We know" the monarch said "the truth,
Not from Mycenae turned away,
Does fame upon her journey stray.
About the kingdom and the madness,
About the shameful eyes and sadness,
E'en he that shakes neath Arctic suns,
Or drinks from Ganges, knows at once,
Or he that sails into the west
While darkness deepens on each crest,
Or whom with its uncertain shores
Syrtes confuses from their course.
No more lament, nor numerate
Thy fathers' woes with grief so great.
Piety in my blood as well,
Has erred in much, as I may tell.
Nor fathers' faults that be to blame
Fasten the sons to do the same.
Thou now look well and favour win
And earn restorance for thy kin.
But now the frosty guide in care,
That leads the hyperborean bear,
With pole and heaven backward bent,
Is seen to wane and grow forspent.
Pour over hearths the sparkling wine
And chant thine orisons divine
And Letoides, o'er and o'er
The savior of thy sires implore.
O father Phoebus, though it be,
Patara's bushes busy thee
And Lycia's ridges rich with snow,
Or amour urges thee to go
And in Castalia's pudic dew
Thy golden locks immerse anew,
Or Thymbraean, thou keepest Troy,
E'en where thou whilom wouldst employ,
As fame reports, thy thankless shoulders
And willing bear the Phrygian boulders.
Or casting shadows far and wide
Over the Aegean waters' tide
Latonian Cynthus pleases thee
Away from Delos midst the sea.
Thine are the darts and bending bow
Afar against the savage foe.
Thine heav'nly parents blest thy cheer
And made thy cheeks eternally sheer.
Learned thou foreknowst in thy skill
The Parcae's cruel hands and will.
The fate in store o'er and above,
And what is pleasing to high Jove,
Which year brings death, and in which folk
War shall break out with many stroke.
What change the flight of comets brings
For sceptres and the pow'r of kings.
Thou tamest well the Phrygian's heart
To learn the cithern's strings and art.
Thou honouring well thy mother's worth
Tityos, the offspring of the earth,
Extendest with thy mighty hand
Straight out upon the Stygian sand.
Thee, the green Python, full of awe,
And thee, the Theban mother saw,
With quiver conquor gloriously.
For an avenger unto thee
Severe Megaera, endlessly
Opresses Phlegyas, kept unfree,
Starving amidst the hollow rocks,
That lying there, the while he mocks,
And edges him with feasts profane,
Mixed sickness makes his hunger wane.
Be present and have memory
Of all our hospitality,
Lend the Junonian fields thy love
Favourable from the heights above.
Whether it be most meet and due
As th' Achaemenian kindred's thew
To call thee Titan roseus,
Osirus the frugiferous,
Or Mithras, in the Persean hollow
Twisting the horns that loathe to follow."
[This message has been edited by Essorant (11-27-2008 07:54 PM).]