previous next

This labour, this encounter brought the rest of many dayes,
And eyther partye in theyr strength a whyle from battell stayes.
Now whyle the Phrygians watch and ward uppon the walles of Troy,
And Greekes likewyse within theyr trench, there came a day of joy,
In which Achilles for his luck in Cygnets overthrow,
A Cow in way of sacrifyse on Pallas did bestowe,
Whose inwards when he had uppon the burning altar cast
And that the acceptable fume had through the ayer past
To Godward, and the holy rytes had had theyr dewes, the rest
Was set on boords for men to eate in disshes fynely drest.
The princes sitting downe, did feede uppon the rosted flesh,
And both theyr thirst and present cares with wyne they did refresh.
Not Harpes, nor songs, nor hollowe flutes to heere did them delyght.
They talked till they nye had spent the greatest part of nyght.
And all theyr communication was of feates of armes in fyght
That had beene doone by them or by theyr foes. And every wyght
Delyghts to uppen oftentymes by turne as came about
The perills and the narrow brunts himself had shifted out.
For what thing should bee talkt beefore Achilles rather? Or
What kynd of things than such as theis could seeme more meeter for
Achilles to bee talking of? But in theyr talk most breeme
Was then Achilles victory of Cygnet. It did seeme
A woonder that the flesh of him should bee so hard and tough
As that no weapon myght have powre to raze or perce it through,
But that it did abate the edge of steele: it was a thing
That both Achilles and the Greekes in woondrous maze did bring.
Then Nestor sayd: This Cygnet is the person now alone
Of your tyme that defyed steele, and could bee perst of none.
But I have seene now long ago one Cene of Perrhebye,
I sawe one Cene of Perrhebye a thousand woundes defye
With unatteynted bodye. In mount Othris he did dwell:
And was renowmed for his deedes: (and which in him ryght well
A greater woonder did appeere) he was a woman borne.
This uncouth made them all much more amazed than beforne,
And every man desyred him to tell it. And among
The rest, Achilles sayd: Declare, I pray thee (for wee long
To heare it every one of us), O eloquent old man,
The wisedome of our age: what was that Cene and how he wan
Another than his native shape, and in what rode, or in
What fyght or skirmish, tweene you first acquaintance did beegin,
And who in fyne did vanquish him if any vanquisht him.
Then Nestor: Though the length of tyme have made my senses dim,
And dyvers things erst seene in youth now out of mynd be gone:
Yit beare I still mo things in mynd: and df them all is none
Among so many both of peace and warre, that yit dooth take
More stedfast roote in memorye. And if that tyme may make
A man great store of things through long continuance for to see,
Two hundred yeeres already of my lyfe full passed bee,
And now I go uppon the third. This foresayd Ceny was
The daughter of one Elatey. In beawty shee did passe
The maydens all of Thessaly. From all the Cities bye
And from thy Cities also, O Achilles, came (for why
Shee was thy countrywoman) store of wooers who in vayne
In hope to win her love did take great travail, suit and payne.
Thy father also had perchaunce attempted heere to matcht
But that thy moothers maryage was alreadye then dispatcht,
Or shee at least affyanced. But Ceny matcht with none,
Howbeeit as shee on the shore was walking all alone,
The God of sea did ravish her. (So fame dooth make report.)
And Neptune for the great delight he had in Venus sport,
Sayd: Ceny, aske mee what thou wilt, and I will give it thee.
(This also bruited is by fame.) The wrong heere doone to mee
(Quoth Ceny) makes mee wish great things. And therfore to th'entent
I may no more constreyned bee to such a thing, consent
I may no more a woman bee. And if thou graunt thereto,
It is even all that I desyre, or wish thee for to doo.
In bacer tune theis latter woordes were uttred, and her voyce
Did seeme a mannes voyce as it was in deede. For to her choyce
The God of sea had given consent. He graunted him besyde
That free from wounding and from hurt he should from thence abyde,
And that he should not dye of steele. Right glad of this same graunt
Away went Ceny, and the feeldes of Thessaly did haunt,
And in the feates of Chevalrye from that tyme spent his lyfe.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Cene (Italy) (3)
Thessaly (Greece) (2)
Troy (Massachusetts, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: