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All Lydia did repine hereat, and of this deede the fame
Through Phrygie ran, and through the world was talking of the same.
Before hir mariage Niobe had knowen hir verie well,
When yet a Maide in Meonie and Sipyle she did dwell.
And yet Arachnes punishment at home before hir eyes,
To use discreter kinde of talke it could hir not advise,
Nor (as behoveth) to the Gods to yeelde in humble wise.
For many things did make hir proud. But neyther did the towne
The which hir husband builded had, nor houses of renowne
Of which they both descended were, nor yet the puissance
Of that great Realme wherein they reignde so much hir minde enhaunce
(Although the liking of them all did greatly hir delight)
As did the offspring of hir selfe. And certenly she might
Have bene of mothers counted well most happie, had she not
So thought hir selfe. For she whome sage Tyresias had begot,
The Prophet Manto, through instinct of heavenly powre, did say
These kinde of wordes in open strete: Ye Thebanes go your way
Apace, and unto Laton and to Latons children pray,
And offer godly Frankinsence, and wreath your haire with Bay.
Latona by the mouth of me commaundes you so to do.
The Thebane women by and by obeying thereunto,
Deckt all their heades with Laurell leaves as Manto did require,
And praying with devout intent threw incense in the fire.
Beholde out commeth Niobe environde with a garde
Of servaunts and a solemne traine that followed afterward.
She was hirselfe in raiment made of costly cloth of golde
Of Phrygia facion verie brave and gorgeous to beholde.
And of hir selfe she was right faire and beautifull of face,
But that hir wrathfull stomake then did somewhat staine hir grace.
She moving with hir portly heade hir haire the which as then
Did hang on both hir shoulders loose, did pawse a while, and when
Wyth loftie looke hir stately eyes she rolled had about:
What madnesse is it (quoth she) to prefer the heavenly rout
Of whome ye doe but heare, to such as daily are in sight?
Or why should Laton honored be with Altars? Never wight
To my most sacred Majestie did offer incense. Yit
My Father was that Tantalus whome only as most fit
The Gods among them at their boordes admitted for to sit.
A sister of the Pleyades is my mother. Finally
My Graundsire on the mothers side is that same Atlas hie
That on his shoulders beareth up the heavenly Axeltree.
Againe my other Graundfather is Jove, and (as you see)
He also is my Fathrinlawe, wherein I glorie may.
The Realme of Phrygia here at hand doth unto me obay.
In Cadmus pallace I thereof the Ladie doe remaine
And joyntly with my husbande I as peerlesse Princesse reigne
Both over this same towne whose walles my husbands harpe did frame,
And also over all the folke and people in the same.
In what soever corner of my house I cast mine eye,
A worlde of riches and of goods I everywhere espie.
Moreover for the beautie, shape, and favor growen in me,
Right well I know I doe deserve a Goddesse for to be.
Besides all this, seven sonnes I have and daughters seven likewise,
By whome shall shortly sonneinlawes and daughtrinlawes arise.
Judge you now if that I have cause of statelynesse or no.
How dare ye then prefer to me Latona that same fro
The Titan Ceus ympe, to whome then readie downe to lie
The hugy Earth a little plot to childe on did denie?
From Heaven, from Earth, and from the Sea your Goddesse banisht was,
And as an outcast through the world from place to place did passe,
Untill that Delos pitying hir, sayde Thou doste fleete on land
And I on Sea, and thereupon did lende hir out of hand
A place unstable. Of two twinnes there brought abed was she:
And this is but the seventh part of the issue borne by me.
Right happie am I. Who can this denie? and shall so still I
Continue. Who doth doubt of that? Abundance hath and will
Preserve me. I am greater than that frowarde fortune may
Empeache me. For although she should pull many things away,
Yet should she leave me many more. My state is out of feare.
Of thys my huge and populous race surmise you that it were
Possible some of them should misse: yet can I never be
So spoyled that no mo than two shall tarie styll with me.
Leave quickly thys lewde sacrifice, and put me off this Bay
That on your heads is wreathed thus. They laide it streight away
And left their holie rites undone, and closely as they may
With secret whispring to themselves to Laton they dyd pray.
How much from utter barrennesse the Goddesse was: so much
Disdeind she more: and in the top of Cynthus framed such
Complaint as this to both hir twinnes. Lo I your mother deare,
Who in my bodie once you twaine with painefull travail beare,
Loe I whose courage is so stout as for to yeelde to none
Of all the other Goddesses except Joves wife alone,
Am lately doubted whether I a Goddesse be or no.
And if you helpe not, children mine, the case now standeth so
That I the honor must from hence of Altars quight forgo.
But this is not mine only griefe. Besides hir wicked fact
Most railing words hath Niobe to my defacing rackt.
She durst prefer hir Barnes to you. And as for me, she naamde
Me barren in respect of hir, and was no whit ashaamde
To shewe hir fathers wicked tongue which she by birth doth take.
This said: Latona was about entreatance for to make.
Cease off (quoth Phebus) long complaint is nothing but delay
Of punishment, and the selfesame wordes did Phebe also say.
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