known. The Naiads nursed
an infant son of Hermes, surely his
of Aphrodite gotten in the caves
of Ida, for the child resembled both
the god and goddess, and his name was theirs.
The years passed by, and when the boy had reached
the limit of three lustrums, he forsook
his native mountains; for he loved to roam
through unimagined places, by the banks
of undiscovered rivers; and the joy
of finding wonders made his labour light.
Leaving Mount Ida, where his youth was spent,
he reached the land of Lycia, and from thence
the verge of Caria, where a pretty pool
of soft translucent water may be seen,
so clear the glistening bottom glads the eye:
no barren sedge, no fenny reeds annoy,
no rushes with their sharpened arrow-points,
but all around the edges of that pool
the softest grass engirdles with its green.
A Nymph dwells there, unsuited to the chase,
unskilled to bend the bow, slothful of foot,
the only Naiad in the world unknown
to rapid-running Dian. Whensoever
her Naiad sisters pled in wi
s the way
of men to talk of many other things
after a strong occurrence, they recalled
what other deeds the goddess had performed;—
and one of them recited this event:
'Twas in the ancient days of long-ago,—
some rustics, in the fertile fields of Lycia,
heedless, insulted the goddess to their harm:—
perhaps you've never heard of this event,
because those country clowns were little known.
The event was wonderful, but I can vouch
the truth of it. I visited the place
and I have seen the pool of wano, strove
to interfere.—And from the island forced
to fly by jealous Juno, on her breast
she bore her children, twin Divinities.
At last, outwearied with the toil, and parched
with thirst—long-wandering in those heated days
over the arid land of Lycia, where
was bred the dire Chimaera— at the time
her parching breasts were drained, she saw this pool
of crystal water, shimmering in the vale.
Some countrymen were there to gather reeds,
and useful osiers, and the bulrush, found
with sedge in
of reason. She wrenched from her breast
her garments, and quite frantic, beat her arms,
and publicly proclaims unhallowed love.
Grown desperate, she left her hated home,
her native land, and followed the loved steps
of her departed brother. Just as those
crazed by your thyrsus, son of Semele!
The Bacchanals of Ismarus, aroused,
howl at your orgies, so her shrieks were heard
by the shocked women of Bubassus, where
the frenzied Byblis howled across the fields,
and so through Caria and through Lycia,
over the mountain Cragus and beyond
the town, Lymira, and the flowing stream
called Xanthus, and the ridge where dwelt
Chimaera, serpent-tailed and monstrous beast,
fire breathing from its lion head and neck.
She hurried through the forest of that ridge—
and there at last worn out with your pursuit,
O Byblis, you fell prostrate, with your hair
spread over the hard ground, and your wan face
buried in fallen leaves. Although the young,
still tender-hearted nymphs of Leleges,
advised her fondl