310/305 BC / Cyrene, Ancient Libya

Hymn to Diana

Tho' great Apollo claim the poet's lyre,
Yet cold neglect may tempt Diana's ire,
Come, virgin-goddess, and inspire my song,
To you the chase, the sylvan dance belong,
And mountain sports; since first with accents mild,
Whilst on his knee the Thund'rer held his child,
O grant me, Father, thus the Goddess said,
To reign a virgin, an unspotted maid.
To me let temples rife, and altars smoke,
And men by many names my aid invoke;
Proud Phoebus else might with thy daughter vie,
And look on Dian with disdainful eye.
To bend the bow and aim the dart be mine,
I ask no thunder nor thy bolts divine;
At your desire the Cyclops will bestow
My pointed shafts and string my little bow.
Let silver light my virgin steps attend,
When to the chase with fleeting feet I bend,
Above the knee be my white garments roll'd
In plaited folds, and fring'd around with gold.
Let Ocean give me fixty little maids
To join the dance amid surrounding shades;
Let twenty more from fair Amnisius come,
All nine years old, and yet in infant-bloom,
To bear my buskins, and my dogs to feed,
When fawns in safety frisk along the mead,
Nor yet the spotted lynx is doom'd to bleed.
Be mine the mountains and each rural bow'r,
And give one city for thy daughter's dow'r;
On mountain-tops shall my bright arrows shine,
And with the mortal race I'll only join,
When matrons torn by agonizing throws
Invoke Lucina to relieve their woes;
For at my birth the attendant Fates assign'd
This talk to me, in mercy to mankind,
Since fair Latona gave me to thy love,
And felt no pangs when blest by fav'ring Jove.

She spoke, and stretch'd her hands with infant-art,
To stroak his beard, and gain her father's heart;
But oft she rais'd her little arms in vain,
At length with smiles he thus reliev'd her pain.

Fair daughter, lov'd beyond th' immortal race,
If such as you spring from a stol'n embrace,
Let furious Juno burn with jealous ire,
Be mine the care to grant your full desire,
And greater gifts beside: from this blest hour
Shall thirty towns invoke Diana's pow'r,
Full thirty towns (for such high Jove's decree)
Ungirt by walls, shall pay their vows to thee:
O'er public ways Diana shall preside
And ev'ry port, where ships in safety ride.
Nor shall these towns alone your pow'r obey,
But you with other Gods divide the sway
Of distant isles amid the wat'ry main,
And cities on the continental plain,
Where mighty nations shall adore your name,
And groves and altars your protection claim.

The Thund'rer spoke, and gave th' almighty nod,
That seals his will, and binds th' immortal God.

Meantime the joyful Goddess wings her flight
To Creta's isle with snowy mountains bright;
Thence from Dictynna's hills, and bending wood,
She seeks the caverns of the rolling flood,
And at her call th' attendant virgins come,
All nine years old, and yet in infant bloom.
With joy Cæratus views the smiling choir,
And hoary Tethys feels reviving fire,
When her bright offspring o'er th' enamel'd green,
Trip with light footsteps and surround their queen.
But thence to Melegunis' isle in haste
(Now Lipara) the sylvan Goddess pass'd,
Her nymphs attending, and with wond'ring eyes
Saw the brown Cyclops of enormous size,
Deep in their darksome dwelling under ground,
On Vulcan's mighty anvil turning round
A mass of metal hissing from the flame:
The Sea-god urges, and for him they frame
A wond'rous vase, the liquor to contain
That fills his coursers on the stormy main.

With horror chill'd, the tim'rous virgins eye
Stupendous giants rear their heads on high,
Like cloud-capt Ossa rising o'er the field;
One eye, that blaz'd like some refulgent shield,
From each stern forehead glar'd pernicious fire.
Aghast they gaze, when now the monsters dire
With stubborn strokes shake the resounding shore,
And the huge bellows thro' the caverns roar.
But when from fiercer flames the metal glows,
And the fix'd anvil rings with heavier blows,
When pond'rous hammers break the tortur'd mass,
Alternate thund'ring on the burning brass,
The nymphs no more endure the dreadful fight,
Their ears grow deaf, their dim eyes lose the light;
A deeper groan through lab'ring Ætna runs,
Appals the hearts of old Sicania's sons,
Redoubles from Hesperia's coast around,
And distant Cyrnus thunders back the sound.
No wonder that Diana's tender maids
Should sink with terror in these gloomy shades;
For when the daughters of th' immortal Gods,
With infant-clamours fill the blest abodes,
Arges or Steropes the mother calls
(Two Cyclops grim) from their infernal halls
To seize the froward child; no Cyclops come,
But, loudly threat'ning, from some inner room
Obsequious Hermes swift before her stands,
With blacken'd face, and with extended hands:
The frighted infant, thus compos'd to rest,
Forgets its cries, and sinks upon her breast.

But fair Diana, scarce three summers old,
Could with her mother these dread realms behold,
When Vulcan, won by her enchanting mien,
With welcome gifts receiv'd the sylvan queen:
Stern Bronte's knee the little Goddess prest,
And pluck'd the bristles from his brawny breast,
As if dire Alopecia's pow'r had torn
The hairs that shall no more his chest adorn.
Now undismay'd, as then, the Goddess cry'd,
Ye mighty Cyclops, set your talks aside,
And for Jove's daughter forge immortal arms,
To fright the savage race with wild alarms;
Sharp arrows to pursue the flying foe,
A sounding quiver, and a dreadful bow,
Such as Cydonians use; for know that I
Descend, like Phoebus, from the realms on high,
And, when some tusky boar resigns his life,
Beneath my darts amid the sylvan strife,
Th' unwieldy victim shall reward your toil,
And hungry Cyclops gorge the grateful spoil.

She spoke; the tawny workmen swift obey'd,
And in one instant arm'd th' immortal maid.

But now the Goddess fought, nor fought in vain,
Pan the protector of th' Arcadian plain;
She found the God dividing 'mongst his hounds
The flesh of Lynxes from Mænelea's grounds.
Six beauteous dogs, when first she came in view,
Swift from the pack the bearded shepherd drew.
One silver spangles round his body bears,
Two streak'd with white, and three with spotted ears,
All fierce in blood; the weaker prey they flew,
And living lions to their kennel drew.
Seven more he gave to Sparta's hardy race,
Fleet as the winds, and active in the chase
Of fauns, that climb the mountains lofty steep,
And hares that never shut their eyes in sleep;
Skill'd thro' the porcupine's dark haunts to go,
And trace the footsteps of the bounding roe.

The nymph accepting leads her hounds with speed
To verdant hills above the Arcadian mead,
And on the mountains airy summits finds
(Sight wond'rous to behold) five beauteous hinds,
That on Anaurus' flow'ry margin fed
(Where mossy pebbles fill'd his ample bed)
In size like bulls, and on their heads divine
High horns of beaming gold resplendent shine.
Soon as the vision opened on her eyes,
These, these, she said, shall be Diana's prize,
Then, o'er the rocks, pursu'd the mountain-winds,
Outstripp'd the dogs, and seiz'd the flying hinds;
One unobserv'd escap'd, but four remain
To draw her chariot thro' th' ætherial plain.
The fifth by Juno's wiles, took swift her way
Thro' Celadon's dark flood; the glorious prey
To Cerynæus' distant mountains run;
A future prize for great Alcmena's son.

Hail, fair Parthenia, beauteous queen of night,
Who hurl'd fierce Tityus from the realms of light;
I see the nymph in golden arms appear,
Mount the swift car, and join th' immortal deer:
A golden zone around her waist she binds,
And reins of gold confine the bounding hinds.

But whether first, O sacred virgins, say,
Did your bright chariot whirl its airy way?
To Hæmus' hills, whence Boreas fiercely blows
On wretched mortals frost and winter snows.
But whence the pine, and whence the kindling flame?
The pine from Myfia's lofty mountain came;
Jove's thunder roar'd; red lightning stream'd on high
To light the torch that blazes through the sky.
Say next, how oft the silver bow you drew,
And where, bright queen, your vengeful arrows flew.
An elm receiv'd the first, an oak the next;
The third a mountain savage deep transfix'd;
More swift the fourth, like rattling thunder springs,
And hurls destruction from its dreadful wings
On realms accurst, where justice ne'er was shewn
To sons of foreign states, or of their own,
Deep sunk in crimes!- How miserable they
'Gainst whom thy vengeance wings its distant way!
Disease devours the flocks, dire hail and rain
Destroy the harvest, and lay waste the plain.
The hoary fire, for guilty deeds undone,
Shaves his grey locks, and mourns his dying son.
In agonizing pangs, her babe unborn,
The matron dies, or from her country torn
To some inhospitable clime must fly,
And see th' abortive birth untimely die.

Thrice happy nations, where with look benign
Your aspect bends; beneath your smiles divine
The fields with increasing harvests crown'd,
The flocks grow fast, and plenty reigns around,
Nor fire, nor infant-son black death shall crave,
Till ripe with age they drop into the grave;
Nor fell suspicion, nor relentless care,
Nor peace-destroying discord enter there,
But friends and brothers, wives and sisters join
The feast in concord and in love divine.

O! grant your bard, and the distinguish'd few,
His chosen friends, these happy climes to view,
So shall Apollo's love, Diana's praise,
And fair Latona's nuptial's grace my lays;
And when my soul inspiring transport feels,
Your arms, your labours, and the fervid wheels
Of your swift car, that flames along the sky
To yonder courts of thund'ring Jove on high.
Your coming acacesian Hermes waits,
And great Apollo stands before the gates,
To lift from off the car the sylvan prey,
While Hermes joyful bears your arms away.
Nor Phoebus e'er his helping hand denies;
But when Alcides scal'd the lofty skies,
This task to him was by the Gods decreed,
So from his ancient labours scarcely freed,
Before th' eternal doors the hero stands,
Expects the prey, and waits your dread commands.
In laughing crowds the joyous Gods appear,
But chief th' imperious step-dame's voice you hear
Loud o'er the rest, to see Tirynthius pull
Th' unwieldy weight of some enormous bull.
That with his hinder foot impatient spurns
The lab'ring God, as from the car he turns.
The brawny hero, tho' with toil opprest,
Approach'd the nymph, and quaintly thus addrest.

Strike sure the savage beast, and man to thee
Will give the name before bestow'd on me,
The great Deliv'rer; let the timid hare,
And bearded goat to native hills repair,
And there securely range. What ills proceed
From hares or goats that on the mountains feed?
Wild boars, and trampling bulls oft render vain
The peasant's toil, and waste the rip'ning grain;
Aim there your darts, and let the monsters feel
The mortal wound, and the sharp-pointed steel.

He spoke, renew'd his toil, and heav'd away
With secret gladness the reluctant prey.
Beneath the Phrygian oak his bones were burn'd,
And his immortal part to heav'n return'd,
Yet still tormented with fierce hunger's rage,
As when Theiodamas he durst engage.
Amnisian virgins from the car unbind
The sacred deer, and dress each panting hind;
Ambrosial herbage by their hands is giv'n
From meadows sacred to the queen of heav'n,
Where Jove's immortal courser's feed. They bring
Refreshing water from a heav'nly spring
In golden cisterns of ætherial mold,
The draught more grateful from a vase of gold.
But you, fair nymphs, call'd by the pow'rs above,
Ascend the mansions of imperial Jove;
The Gods rose graceful, when the virgin queen,
With beauteous aspect, and with look serene
By Phoebus' side assum'd her silver throne,
Next him in power, and next in glory shone.

But when, with sportive limbs, the nymphs are seen
To dance in mazy circles round their queen,
Near the cool fountains whence Inopus rose,
Broad as the Nile, and like the Nile o'erflows;
Or when to Pitane or Limnæ's meads,
Or Alæ's flow'ry field, the Goddess leads
The choir, from Taurus black with human blood,
And turns disgustful from the Scythian brood.
That day my heifers to the stall retire,
Nor turn the green sward for another's hire;
Tho' nine years old, and in Tymphæa born,
Their limbs tho' sturdy, and tho' strong of horn
To drag the plough, and cleave the mellow foil;
Yet would their necks, o'erlabour'd bend with toil,
When Sol himself leans downward from the sky,
Beholds the virgins with enraptur'd eye,
Detains his chariot, whence new glories pour,
Prolongs the day, and stops the flying hour.

What city, mountain, or what sacred isle,
What harbour boasts your most auspicious smile?
And of th' attendant nymphs, that sportful rove
Along the hills, who most enjoys your love,
O Goddess tell: If you inspire their praise,
Admiring nations will attend my lays.

Your favour Perga, green Doliche boasts,
Taygettus' mountains, and Euripus' coasts;
And Britomartis, from Gertynas' grove,
Of all the nymphs enjoys distinguished love:
Fair Britomartis (skill'd to wing the dart,
And pierce with certain wound the distant hart)
Imperial Minos chas'd with wild desire,
O'er Cretan hills, and made the nymph retire
To some far distant oak's extended shade,
Or sheltring grove, or marsh's wat'ry bed.
Nine months the king pursued, with furious haste,
O'er rocks abrupt, and precipices vast,
Nor once gave back, but when the blooming maid
Was just within his pow'r, and none gave aid,
His grasp eluding, from the impending steep
Headlong she plung'd amid the swelling deep.
But friendly fishers on the main display'd
Their nets wide-stretching to receive the maid,
And thus preserv'd her from a wat'ry death,
Worn out with toil, and panting still for breath.
And in succeeding times Cydonians hence
Dictynna call'd the nymph; the mountain, whence
She leapt into the sea, bear Dictè's name,
Where annual rites record the virgin's fame.
On that blest day, fair nymph, is wove for thee
A Garland from the pine or mastich tree;
The myrtle-branch untouch'd, that durst assail
The flying maid and rent her snowy veil,
And hence the man must bear the virgins frown,
Who shall her altars with fresh myrtles crown.

The name Dictynna too the Cretans gave
(From her who fearless plung'd beneath the wave)
To you fair Upis, from whose sacred brows
Resplendent glory with mild lustre flows;
But in your breast the nymph Cyrene shares
An equal place, and equal favour bears,
To whom in days of old your hands convey'd
Two beauteous hounds, with which the warlike maid
Acquired renown before th' Jolcian tomb.
All-bright with locks of gold see Procris come,
Majestic matron, Cephalus's spouse,
Whom, tho' no virgin, you great Goddess choose
Companion of the chase, but o'er the rest
Mild Anticlea your regard possest:
Fair as the light, and dearer than your eyes,
She claims protection by superior ties.
These first bore quivers, these you taught to wing
The founding arrow from the trembling string,
With their right shoulders, and white bosoms bare,
They lead the chase, and join the sylvan war.
Your praises too swift Atalanta charm,
Jafius' daughter, whose resistless arm
O'erthrew the boar; you shew'd the nymph with art
T' incite the hounds, and aim the unerring dart.
But Calydonian hunters now no more
Dispute the prize, since the fair virgin bore
The glorious trophy to th' Arcadian plain,
Where his white teeth record the monster slain.
Nor now shall Rhoecus, nor Hylæus young,
With lust inflam'd, or with fell envy stung,
Lay hands unhallow'd on the beauteous maid,
Or once approach her in th' Elysian shade;
Since their torn entrails on Mænalia tell
How by her arm th' incestuous monsters fell.

Hail! Bright Chitone, hail! Auspicious queen,
With robes of gold, and with Majestic mien!
In many temples, many climes adore
Your name, fair guardian of Miletus' shore.
The name Imbrasia, Chesias too is giv'n
To you high thron'd among the pow'rs of hea'vn,
Since happy Nelus and th' Athenian host
By your protection reach'd the fertile coast.
Great Agamemnon's hand a rudder bore,
To grace your temple on Boetia's shore,
And gain your love, while adverse winds detain
The impatient Grecians from the roaring main;
Wild with delay, on rugged rocks they mourn
Rhamnusian Helen from her country torn.

When sudden frenzy siez'd the madd'ning brains
Of Prætus' daughters on th' Achaian plains;
While o'er th' inhospitable hills they roam,
You fought with maids, and safe conducted home:
Of this two sacred fanes preserve the fame,
One to Coresia from the virgin's name;
To Hemeresia one in Loussa's shades,
Mild Hemeresia cur'd the furious maids.
Fierce Amazonian dames to battle bred,
Along th' Ephefian plains by Hippo led,
With pious hands a golden statue bore
Of you, bright Upis, to the sacred shore
Plac'd where a beech-tree's ample shade invites
The warlike band to join the holy rites.
Around the tree they clash their maiden shields,
With sounding strokes that echo thro' the fields;
Swift, o'er the shores, in wider circles spring,
Join hand in hand to form a mazy ring,
And beat, with measur'd steps, the trembling ground
Responsive to the shrill pipe's piercing found;
The bones of deer yet uninspir'd and mute,
From which Minerva form'd a softer flute.
Discordant notes to lofty Sardis fly,
And Berecynthus' distant hills reply;
Hoarse-rattling quivers o'er their shoulders rung
While from the ground, with bounding feet they sprung.
And after ages saw, with glad surprize,
A wondrous, fabric round the statue rise,
More rich, more beautiful, than Phoebus boasts,
With all his glory on the Delphic coasts:
Nor yet Aurora's morning beams have shone
On such a temple, or to fair a throne.
But soon fierce Lygdamis descending down,
With impious threats to burn th' Ephesian town,
In numbers like the sand an host prepares
Of strong Cimmerians, fed with milk of mares:
The bands unblest their sudden march began
From frozen plains, where lowing Io ran.
Ah! wretched Monarch, fated now no more
To lead your legions to the northern shore;
Who drove their chariots o'er Cayëster's mead
Shall ne'er in Scythian climes their coursers feed:
For bright Diana guards the sacred towers,
And on th' approaching foe destruction pours.
Hail! great Munychia, for th' Athenian bay
And Pheræ's fertile shores confess your sway;
Hail! bright Pheræa; and let none presume
T' offend Diana, lest th' avenging doom
Fall heavy on their heads, which Oeneus mourn'd,
When unsuccessful, from the field he turn'd
For vows unpaid. Like her let none pretend
To dart the javelin or the bow to bend;
For when Atrides durst her grove profane,
No vulgar death remov'd the fatal stain.
Let none, with eyes of love, the nymph behold;
Left, like fond Otus and Orion bold,
They sink beneath her darts; let none decline
The solemn dance, or flight the pow'r divine:
Ev'n favour'd Hippo feels her vengeful ire,
If, from th' unfinish'd rites, she dares retire.

Hail! Virgin queen, accept my humble praise,
And smile propitious on your poet's lays.
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