oil on canvas (50 x 100 cm)
Ovid, Metamorphoses, book II
 And far fell Phaethon with flaming hair; as haply from the summer sky appears a falling star, although it never drops to startled earth.—Far distant from his home the deep Eridanus received the lad and bathed his foaming face. His body charred by triple flames Hesperian Naiads bore, still smoking, to a tomb, and this engraved upon the stone; “Here Phaethon's remains lie buried. He who drove his father's car and fell, although he made a great attempt.”
 Filled with consuming woe, his father hid his countenance which grief had overcast. And now, surpassing our belief, they say a day passed over with no glowing sun;—but light-affording flames appeared to change disaster to the cause of good. Amazed, the woeful Clymene, when she had moaned in grief, amid her lamentations tore her bosom, as across the world she roamed, at first to seek his lifeless corpse, and then his bones. She wandered to that distant land and found at last his bones ensepulchred. There, clinging to the grave she fell and bathed with many tears his name on marble carved, and with her bosom warmed the freezing stone.
 And all the daughters of the Sun went there giving their tears, alas a useless gift;—they wept and beat their breasts, and day and night called, “Phaethon,” who heard not any sound of their complaint:—and there they lay foredone, all scattered round the tomb. The silent moon had four times joined her horns and filled her disk, while they, according to an ancient rite, made lamentation. Prone upon the ground, the eldest, Phaethusa, would arise from there, but found her feet were growing stiff; and uttered moan. Lampetia wished to aid her sister but was hindered by new roots; a third when she would tear her hair, plucked forth but leaves: another wailed to find her legs were fastened in a tree; another moaned to find her arms to branches had been changed. And while they wondered, bark enclosed their thighs, and covered their smooth bellies, and their breasts, and shoulders and their hands, but left untouched their lips that called upon their mother's name. What can she do for them? Hither she runs and thither runs, wherever frenzy leads. She kisses them, alas, while yet she may! But not content with this, she tried to hale their bodies from the trees; and she would tear the tender branches with her hands, but lo! The blood oozed out as from a bleeding wound; and as she wounded them they shrieked aloud, “Spare me! O mother spare me; in the tree my flesh is torn! farewell! farewell! farewell!” And as they spoke the bark enclosed their lips. Their tears flow forth, and from the new-formed boughs amber distils and slowly hardens in the sun; and far from there upon the waves is borne to deck the Latin women.
 Cycnus, son of Sthenelus, by his maternal house akin to Phaethon, and thrice by love allied, beheld this wonderful event.—he left his kingdom of Liguria, and all its peopled cities, to lament where the sad sisters had increased the woods, beside the green banks of Eridanus. There, as he made complaint, his manly voice began to pipe a treble, shrill; and long gray plumes concealed his hair. A slender neck extended from his breast, and reddening toes were joined together by a membrane. Wings grew from his sides, and from his mouth was made a blunted beak. Now Cycnus is a swan, and yet he fears to trust the skies and Jove, for he remembers fires, unjustly sent, and therefore shuns the heat that he abhors, and haunts the spacious lakes and pools and streams that quench the fires.