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Ovid XIV Chapter 17: 698-771 Anaxarete and Iphis
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|'Once, Iphis, a youth, born of humble stock, saw noble Anaxarete, of the blood of Teucer, saw her, and felt the fire of passion in every bone. He fought it for a long time, but when he could not conquer his madness by reason, he came begging at her threshold. Now he would confess his sorry love to her nurse, asking her not to be hard on him, by the hopes she had for her darling. At other times he flattered each of her many attendants, with enticing words, seeking their favourable disposition. Often he gave them messages to carry to her, in the form of fawning letters. Sometimes he hung garlands on her doorpost wet with his tears, and lay with his soft flank on the hard threshold, complaining at the pitiless bolts barring the way. But she spurned, and mocked, him, crueler than the surging sea, when the Kids set; harder than steel tempered in the fires of Noricum; or natural rock still rooted to its bed. And she added proud, insolent words to harsh actions, robbing her lover of hope, as well. Unable to endure the pain of his long torment, Iphis spoke these last words before her door. "You have conquered, Anaxarete, and you will not have to suffer any tedium on my account. Devise glad triumphs, and sing the Paean of victory, and wreathe your brow with shining laurel! You have conquered, and I die gladly: now, heart of steel, rejoice! Now you will have something to praise about my love, something that pleases you. Remember that my love for you did not end before life itself, and that I lose twin lights in one. No mere rumour will come to you to announce my death: have no doubt, I myself will be there, visibly present, so you can feast your savage eyes on my lifeless corpse. Yet, if you, O gods, see what mortals do, let me be remembered (my tongue can bear to ask for nothing more), and suffer my tale to be told, in future ages, and grant, to my fame, the years, you have taken from my life." He spoke, and lifted his tear-filled eyes to the doorposts he had often crowned with flowery garlands, and, raising his pale arms to them, tied a rope to the cross-beam, saying: "This wreath will please you, cruel and wicked, as you are!" Then he thrust his head in the noose, though, as he hung there, a pitiful burden, his windpipe crushed, even then he turned towards her. The drumming of his feet seemed to sound a request to enter, and when the door was opened it revealed what he had done. The servants shrieked, and lifted him down, but in vain. Then they carried his body to his mother's house (since his father was dead). She took him to her breast, and embraced her son's cold limbs, and when she had said all the words a distraught father could say, and done the things distraught mothers do, weeping, she led his funeral procession through the heart of the city, carrying the pallid corpse, on a bier, to the pyre. The sound of mourning rose to the ears of stony-hearted Anaxarete, her house chancing to be near the street, where the sad procession passed. Now a vengeful god roused her. Still, she was roused, and said: "Let us see this miserable funeral" and went to a rooftop room with open windows. She had barely looked at Iphis, lying on the bier, when her eyes grew fixed, and the warm blood left her pallid body. Trying to step backwards she was rooted: trying to turn her face away, also, she could not. Gradually the stone that had long existed in her heart possessed her body. If you think this is only a tale, Salamis still preserves the image of the lady as a statue, and also possesses a temple of Gazing Venus. Remember all this, O nymph of mine: put aside, I beg you, reluctant pride, and yield to your lover. Then the frost will not sear your apples in the bud, nor the storm winds scatter them in flower.' When Vertumnus, the god, disguised in the shape of the old woman, had spoken, but to no effect, he went back to being a youth, and threw off the dress of an old woman, and appeared to Pomona, in the glowing likeness of the sun, when it overcomes contending clouds, and shines out, unopposed. He was ready to force her: but no force was needed, and the nymph captivated by the form of the god, felt a mutual passion.||
'Viderat a veteris generosam sanguine Teucri |
Iphis Anaxareten, humili de stirpe creatus,
viderat et totis perceperat ossibus aestum
luctatusque diu, postquam ratione furorem
vincere non potuit, supplex ad limina venit
et modo nutrici miserum confessus amorem,
ne sibi dura foret, per spes oravit alumnae,
et modo de multis blanditus cuique ministris
sollicita petiit propensum voce favorem;
saepe ferenda dedit blandis sua verba tabellis,
interdum madidas lacrimarum rore coronas
postibus intendit posuitque in limine duro
molle latus tristisque serae convicia fecit.
saevior illa freto surgente cadentibus Haedis,
durior et ferro, quod Noricus excoquit ignis,
et saxo, quod adhuc vivum radice tenetur,
spernit et inridet, factisque inmitibus addit
verba superba ferox et spe quoque fraudat amantem.
non tulit impatiens longi tormenta doloris
Iphis et ante fores haec verba novissima dixit:
"vincis, Anaxarete, neque erunt tibi taedia tandem
ulla ferenda mei: laetos molire triumphos
et Paeana voca nitidaque incingere lauru!
vincis enim, moriorque libens: age, ferrea, gaude!
certe aliquid laudare mei cogeris amoris,
quo tibi sim gratus, meritumque fatebere nostrum.
non tamen ante tui curam excessisse memento
quam vitam geminaque simul mihi luce carendum.
nec tibi fama mei ventura est nuntia leti:
ipse ego, ne dubites, adero praesensque videbor,
corpore ut exanimi crudelia lumina pascas.
si tamen, o superi, mortalia facta videtis,
este mei memores (nihil ultra lingua precari
sustinet) et longo facite ut narremur in aevo,
et, quae dempsistis vitae, date tempora famae!"
dixit, et ad postes ornatos saepe coronis
umentes oculos et pallida bracchia tollens,
cum foribus laquei religaret vincula summis,
"haec tibi serta placent, crudelis et inpia!" dixit
inseruitque caput, sed tum quoque versus ad illam,
atque onus infelix elisa fauce pependit.
icta pedum motu trepidantum aperire iubentem
visa dedisse sonum est adapertaque ianua factum
prodidit, exclamant famuli frustraque levatum
(nam pater occiderat) referunt ad limina matris;
accipit illa sinu conplexaque frigida nati
membra sui postquam miserorum verba parentum
edidit et matrum miserarum facta peregit,
funera ducebat mediam lacrimosa per urbem
luridaque arsuro portabat membra feretro.
forte viae vicina domus, qua flebilis ibat
pompa, fuit, duraeque sonus plangoris ad aures
venit Anaxaretes, quam iam deus ultor agebat.
mota tamen "videamus" ait "miserabile funus"
et patulis iniit tectum sublime fenestris
vixque bene inpositum lecto prospexerat Iphin:
deriguere oculi, calidusque e corpore sanguis
inducto pallore fugit, conataque retro
ferre pedes haesit, conata avertere vultus
hoc quoque non potuit, paulatimque occupat artus,
quod fuit in duro iam pridem pectore, saxum.
neve ea ficta putes, dominae sub imagine signum
servat adhuc Salamis, Veneris quoque nomine templum
Prospicientis habet.—quorum memor, o mea, lentos
pone, precor, fastus et amanti iungere, nymphe:
sic tibi nec vernum nascentia frigus adurat
poma, nec excutiant rapidi florentia venti!'
Haec ubi nequiquam formae deus aptus anili
edidit, in iuvenem rediit et anilia demit
instrumenta sibi talisque apparuit illi,
qualis ubi oppositas nitidissima solis imago
evicit nubes nullaque obstante reluxit,
vimque parat: sed vi non est opus, inque figura
capta dei nympha est et mutua vulnera sensit.