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Ovid XIV Chapter 1: 1-74 The transformation of Scylla
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Glaucus, the fisher of the swollen Euboean waters, soon left Aetna behind, that mountain piled on Typhoeus's giant head, and the Cyclops's fields, that know nothing of the plough's use or the harrow, and owe nothing to the yoked oxen. Zancle was left behind as well, and the walls of Rhegium opposite, and the dangerous strait, hemmed in between twin coast-lines, that marks the boundary between Sicily and Italian Ausonia. From there, swimming with mighty strokes, across the Tyrrhenian Sea, he came to the grassy hills and the halls of Circe, daughter of the Sun, filled with transformed beasts. As soon as he saw her, and words of welcome had been exchanged, he said: Goddess, I beg you, take pity on a god! You alone can help this love of mine, if I seem worthy of help. No one knows better than I, Titaness, what power herbs have, since I was transmuted by them. So that the cause of my passion is not unknown to you, I saw Scylla, on the Italian coast, opposite Messene's walls. I am ashamed to tell of the prayers and promises, the blandishments I used, words that were scorned. If there is any power in charms, utter a charm from your sacred clips: or, if herbs are more potent, use the proven strength of active herbs. I trust you not to cure me, or heal me, of these wounds: my love cannot end: only let her feel this heat. No one has a nature more susceptible to such fires than Circe, whether the root of it is in herself, or whether Venus, offended by Sol her father's tale-bearing, made her that way, so she replied: 'You would do better to chase after someone whose wishes and purposes were yours, and who was captured by equal desire. Besides, you were worth courting (and certainly could be courted), and if you offer any hope, believe me you will be too. If you doubt it, and have no faith in your attractions, well, I, though I am a goddess, daughter of shining Sol, though I possess such powers of herbs and charms, I promise to be yours. Spurn the spurner, repay the admirer, and, in one act, be twice revenged.' To such temptations as these Glaucus replied: 'Sooner than my love will change, Scylla unchanged, leaves will grow on the waters, and seaweed will grow on the hills.' The goddess was angered, and since she could not harm him (nor, loving him, wished to do so) she was furious with the girl, who was preferred to her. Offended at his rejection of her passion, she at once ground noxious herbs with foul juices, and joined the spells of Hecate to their grinding. Wrapping herself in a dusky cloak, she made her way from the palace, through the crowd of fawning beasts, and sought out Rhegium opposite Zancle's cliffs, travelling over the seething tidal waters, as if she trod on solid ground, crossing dry-footed over the surface of the sea. There was a little pool, curved in a smooth arc, dear to Scylla for its peacefulness. When the sun was strongest, at the zenith, and from its heights made shortest shadows, she retreated there from the heat of sky and sea. This, the goddess tainted in advance and contaminated with her monstrous poison. She sprinkled the liquid squeezed from harmful roots, and muttered a mysterious incantation, dark with strange words, thrice nine times, in magical utterance. Scylla comes, wading waist deep into the pool, only to find the water around her groin erupt with yelping monsters. At first, not thinking them part of her own body, she retreats from their cruel muzzles, fears them, and pushes them away: but, what she flees from, she pulls along with her, and, seeking her thighs, her legs, her feet, in place of them finds jaws like Cerberus's. She stands among raging dogs, and is encircled by beasts, below the surface, from which her truncated thighs and belly emerge. Her lover Glaucus wept, and fled Circe's embrace, she, who had made too hostile a use of her herbs' powers. Scylla remained where she was, and, at the first opportunity, in her hatred of Circe, robbed Ulysses of his companions. Later she would have overwhelmed the Trojan ships, if she had not previously been transformed into a rock, whose stone is visible even now: a rock that sailors still avoid. |
Event: Glaucus, Scylla and Circe
Iamque Giganteis iniectam faucibus Aetnen |
arvaque Cyclopum, quid rastra, quid usus aratri,
nescia nec quicquam iunctis debentia bubus
liquerat Euboicus tumidarum cultor aquarum,
liquerat et Zanclen adversaque moenia Regi
navifragumque fretum, gemino quod litore pressum
Ausoniae Siculaeque tenet confinia terrae.
inde manu magna Tyrrhena per aequora vectus
herbiferos adiit colles atque atria Glaucus
Sole satae Circes, variarum plena ferarum.
quam simul adspexit, dicta acceptaque salute,
'diva, dei miserere, precor! nam sola levare
tu potes hunc,' dixit 'videar modo dignus, amorem.
quanta sit herbarum, Titani, potentia, nulli
quam mihi cognitius, qui sum mutatus ab illis.
neve mei non nota tibi sit causa furoris:
litore in Italico, Messenia moenia contra,
Scylla mihi visa est. pudor est promissa precesque
blanditiasque meas contemptaque verba referre;
at tu, sive aliquid regni est in carmine, carmen
ore move sacro, sive expugnacior herba est,
utere temptatis operosae viribus herbae
nec medeare mihi sanesque haec vulnera mando,
fine nihil opus est: partem ferat illa caloris.'
at Circe (neque enim flammis habet aptius ulla
talibus ingenium, seu causa est huius in ipsa,
seu Venus indicio facit hoc offensa paterno,)
talia verba refert: 'melius sequerere volentem
optantemque eadem parilique cupidine captam.
dignus eras ultro (poteras certeque) rogari,
et, si spem dederis, mihi crede, rogaberis ultro.
neu dubites absitque tuae fiducia formae,
en ego, cum dea sim, nitidi cum filia Solis,
carmine cum tantum, tantum quoque gramine possim,
ut tua sim, voveo. spernentem sperne, sequenti
redde vices, unoque duas ulciscere facto.'
talia temptanti 'prius' inquit 'in aequore frondes'
Glaucus 'et in summis nascentur montibus algae,
Sospite quam Scylla nostri mutentur amores.'
indignata dea est et laedere quatenus ipsum
non poterat (nec vellet amans), irascitur illi,
quae sibi praelata est; venerisque offensa repulsa,
protinus horrendis infamia pabula sucis
conterit et tritis Hecateia carmina miscet
caerulaque induitur velamina perque ferarum
agmen adulantum media procedit ab aula
oppositumque petens contra Zancleia saxa
Region ingreditur ferventes aestibus undas,
in quibus ut solida ponit vestigia terra
summaque decurrit pedibus super aequora siccis.
parvus erat gurges, curvos sinuatus in arcus,
grata quies Scyllae: quo se referebat ab aestu
et maris et caeli, medio cum plurimus orbe
sol erat et minimas a vertice fecerat umbras.
hunc dea praevitiat portentificisque venenis
inquinat; hic pressos latices radice nocenti
spargit et obscurum verborum ambage novorum
ter noviens carmen magico demurmurat ore.
Scylla venit mediaque tenus descenderat alvo,
cum sua foedari latrantibus inguina monstris
adspicit ac primo credens non corporis illas
esse sui partes, refugitque abigitque timetque
ora proterva canum, sed quos fugit, attrahit una
et corpus quaerens femorum crurumque pedumque
Cerbereos rictus pro partibus invenit illis:
statque canum rabie subiectaque terga ferarum
inguinibus truncis uteroque exstante coercet.
Flevit amans Glaucus nimiumque hostiliter usae
viribus herbarum fugit conubia Circes;
Scylla loco mansit cumque est data copia, primum
in Circes odium sociis spoliavit Ulixem;
mox eadem Teucras fuerat mersura carinas,
ni prius in scopulum, qui nunc quoque saxeus exstat,
transformata foret: scopulum quoque navita vitat.