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oil on canvas (50 x 100 cm)

Ovid, Metamorphoses book VI.
[190] The Cytherean Venus brooded on the Sun's betrayal of her stolen joys, and thought to torture him in passion's pains, and wreak requital for the pain he caused. Son of Hyperion! what avails thy light? What is the profit of thy glowing heat? Lo, thou whose flames have parched innumerous lands, thyself art burning with another flame! And thou whose orb should joy the universe art gazing only on Leucothea's charms. Thy glorious eye on one fair maid is fixed, forgetting all besides. Too early thou art rising from thy bed of orient skies, too late thy setting in the western waves; so taking time to gaze upon thy love, thy frenzy lengthens out the wintry hour! And often thou art darkened in eclipse, dark shadows of this trouble in thy mind, unwonted aspect, casting man perplexed in abject terror. Pale thou art, though not betwixt thee and the earth the shadowous moon bedims thy devious way. Thy passion gives to grief thy countenance—for her thy heart alone is grieving—Clymene and Rhodos, and Persa, mother of deluding Circe, are all forgotten for thy doting hope; even Clytie, who is yearning for thy love, no more can charm thee; thou art so foredone. Leucothea is the cause of many tears, Leucothea, daughter of Eurynome, most beauteous matron of Arabia's strand, where spicey odours blow. Eurynome in youthful prime excelled her mother's grace, and, save her daughter, all excelled besides. Leucothea's father, Orchamas was king where Achaemenes whilom held the sway; and Orchamas from ancient Belus' death might count his reign the seventh in descent.

[214] The dark-night pastures of Apollo's (Sol's) steeds are hid below the western skies; when there, and spent with toil, in lieu of nibbling herbs they take ambrosial food: it gives their limbs restoring strength and nourishes anew. Now while these coursers eat celestial food and Night resumes his reign, the god appears disguised, unguessed, as old Eurynome to fair Leucothea as she draws the threads, all smoothly twisted from her spindle. There she sits with twice six hand-maids ranged around and as the god beholds her at the door he kisses her, as if a child beloved and he her mother. And he spoke to her: “Let thy twelve hand-maids leave us undisturbed, for I have things of close import to tell, and seemly, from a mother to her child.”, so when they all withdrew the god began, “Lo, I am he who measures the long year; I see all things, and through me the wide world may see all things; I am the glowing eye of the broad universe! Thou art to me the glory of the earth!” Filled with alarm, from her relaxed fingers she let fall the distaff and the spindle, but, her fear so lovely in her beauty seemed, the God no longer brooked delay: he changed his form back to his wonted beauty and resumed his bright celestial. Startled at the sight the maid recoiled a space; but presently the glory of the god inspired her love; and all her timid doubts dissolved away; without complaint she melted in his arms.

[234] So ardently the bright Apollo (Sol) loved, that Clytie, envious of Leucothea's joy, where evil none was known, a scandal made; and having published wide their secret love, leucothea's father also heard the tale. Relentlessly and fierce, his cruel hand buried his living daughter in the ground, who, while her arms implored the glowing Sun, complained. “For love of thee my life is lost.” And as she wailed her father sowed her there. Hyperion's Son began with piercing heat to scatter the loose sand, a way to open, that she might look with beauteous features forth too late! for smothered by the compact earth, thou canst not lift thy drooping head; alas! A lifeless corse remains. No sadder sight since Phaethon was blasted by the bolt, down-hurled by Jove, had ever grieved the God who daily drives his winged steeds. In vain he strives with all the magic of his rays to warm her limbs anew.—The deed is done—what vantage gives his might if fate deny? He sprinkles fragrant nectar on her grave, and lifeless corse, and as he wails exclaims, “But naught shall hinder you to reach the skies.” At once the maiden's body, steeped in dews of nectar, sweet and odourate, dissolves and adds its fragrant juices to the earth: slowly from this a sprout of Frankincense takes root in riched soil, and bursting through the sandy hillock shows its top.

[256] No more to Clytie comes the author of sweet light, for though her love might make excuse of grief, and grief may plead to pardon jealous words, his heart disdains the schemist of his woe; and she who turned to sour the sweet of love, from that unhallowed moment pined away. Envious and hating all her sister Nymphs, day after day,—and through the lonely nights, all unprotected from the chilly breeze, her hair dishevelled, tangled, unadorned, she sat unmoved upon the bare hard ground. Nine days the Nymph was nourished by the dews, or haply by her own tears' bitter brine;—all other nourishment was naught to her.—She never raised herself from the bare ground though on the god her gaze was ever fixed;—she turned her features towards him as he moved: they say that afterwhile her limbs took root and fastened to the around. A pearly white overspread her countenance, that turned as pale and bloodless as the dead; but here and there a blushing tinge resolved in violet tint; and something like the blossom of that name a flower concealed her face. Although a root now holds her fast to earth, the Heliotrope turns ever to the Sun, as if to prove that all may change and love through all remain.

[271] Thus was the story ended. All were charmed to hear recounted such mysterious deeds. While some were doubting whether such were true others affirmed that to the living Gods is nothing to restrain their wondrous works, though surely of the Gods, immortal, none accorded Bacchus even thought or place. When all had made an end of argument, they bade Alcithoe take up the word: she, busily working on the pendent web, still shot the shuttle through the warp and said; “The amours of the shepherd Daphnis, known to many of you, I shall not relate; the shepherd Daphnis of Mount Ida, who was turned to stone obdurate, for the Nymph whose love he slighted—so the rivalry of love neglected rouses to revenge: neither shall I relate the story told of Scython, double-sexed, who first was man, then altered to a woman: so I pass the tale of Celmus turned to adamant, who reared almighty Jove from tender youth: so, likewise the Curetes whom the rain brought forth to life: Smilax and Crocus, too, transpeciated into little flowers: all these I pass to tell a novel tale, which haply may resolve in pleasant thoughts.

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